September 22 , 2004
CBS News fails its responsibility and
the 'real news' test
CBS has finally admitted to being duped and says it
was wrong to air the "60 Minutes" episode accusing
President George W. Bush of receiving special treatment
in the Texas Air National Guard. I am disappointed and
disgusted with CBS and with Dan Rather for what appears
to be a lack of moral and ethical standards.
Are there no consequences for this reprehensible behavior?
News is to inform and educate us. Without trust in the
integrity of the news, how can our society survive?
Do not lose heart. The jury is still out on this recent
chaos created by Dan Rather, CBS and "60 Minutes." Our
system will know what is right and apply sound principles
to abuses of power by any segment of the media, including
We expect and deserve proper news coverage, and we want
it available, all the time. Journalist-historian Richard
Reeves was asked by a college student to define "real
news," and he answered that real news is "the
news you and I need to keep our freedoms." As readers,
hearers and viewers of the current reporting of the news,
what portion of what is presented to the public is essential
for the retention of our freedoms? What percentage is
entertainment, posing as news? What amount is editorial
and biased opinion, masquerading under the banner of "news" that
is "fair and balanced" information?
In the book Dan Halloran and I published this year, "Integrity
Matters," we quote CBS broadcast veteran Walter
Cronkite: "We can all take the hero's journey. It
begins with a single step, the moment we stand up for
something we believe in." Earlier in the book, we
write: "In the early days of television journalism,
news professionals such as David Brinkley, Edward R.
Murrow and Walter Cronkite recognized the importance
of honesty, courage and forthrightness.
Real news reporting is always about integrity, intelligence
and courage. Integrity provides the platform for truth
seeking. Intelligence builds the road to insightful,
accurate and thorough research. And courage is a timeless
quality and becomes all the more important when the government
or any other institution of power and control is tempted
to suggest the legitimacy of censorship. Dan Rather,
CBS and "60 Minutes," instead of reporting
the news that we need in order to keep our freedoms have
themselves become the news. How sad for them.
Demand the "real news" -- the news you and
I need to keep our freedoms. Demand that our televised
news media make clear their choice of responsible journalism
in preference to salacious entertainment. "Real
news" is important, always has been, and it always
will be. Integrity matters.