60 Minutes Wednesday (1999) - News Poster

(1999–2005)

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Rather suing for the 'truth'

Rather suing for the 'truth'
NEW YORK -- Former CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather said Thursday night that he wouldn't take a purely financial settlement with the megabucks lawsuit against his former employer.

In an interview Thursday night on CNN's Larry King Live, Rather said that he was interested in finding out the truth about what he called the corporate and government pressures on investigative journalism in what became known as "Memogate". He said he would "absolutely not" take a purely financial package that doesn't cut to what he called the truth about what happened following the Sept. 8, 2004, report on 60 Minutes II on President Bush's military career that was later retracted.

Rather also said it wasn't about the $70 million in damages the lawsuit seeks, that most of any money received would go to organizations that promote investigative journalism.

"I'd like the legacy of this lawsuit not that I made tons of money out of it but that we kept the little flame, the flickering flame of hard-nosed investigative reporting alive," Rather said.

'Scapegoat' Rather sues CBS for $70 million

NEW YORK -- As if CBS hadn't been rattled enough by legal flaps from shock jocks Howard Stern and Don Imus, a languishing newscast with Katie Couric as well as the controversial just-launched reality show Kid Nation, the network has been slapped with a $70 million lawsuit from former anchor Dan Rather.

Rather, whose decades-long career at CBS came to an inglorious halt over his role in a report criticizing President Bush's Vietnam-era National Guard service, on Wednesday sued CBS, Viacom, its chairman Sumner Redstone, CBS CEO Leslie Moonves and former CBS News president Andrew Heyward.

The suit, filed in New York State Supreme Court, argues that CBS violated Rather's contract by giving him insufficient airtime on 60 Minutes after summarily dismissing him as anchor of CBS Evening News in March 2005.

The suit claims that Rather was made a scapegoat by CBS and Viacom for business interests after the September 2004 airing of the controversial 60 Minutes II report on President Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard. The 32-page writ said the anchor was shunned and continually kept from defending himself from attacks inside and outside CBS. Rather claims that the independent panel investigating Memogate had close ties to President Bush's father and that he was compelled to apologize for the report, even though he wasn't directly involved in putting it together.

In the filing, Rather also describes how systematically, and painfully, he was sidelined by the CBS hierarchy while at 60 Minutes. He said he was "provided with very little staff support, very few of his suggested stories were approved, editing services were denied to him and the broadcasts of the few stories he was permitted to do was delayed and then played on carefully selected evenings when low viewership was anticipated."

Rather is seeking upward of $20 million in compensatory damages and $50 million in punitive damages. He said in a statement that he would donate most of whatever he might be awarded "to causes that will further journalistic independence."

CBS responded quickly to the lawsuit with a terse statement: "These complaints are old news, and this lawsuit is without merit."

Word of the lawsuit had spread like wildfire over the Internet and the wires by midday Wednesday; entertainment lawyers spent their afternoon readying their instant analysis for the newsies and print reporters. Comments ranged across the board, with some arguing that Rather had gotten a raw deal and others that it was nothing more than sour grapes.

For CBS, however, no one thought Rather's move would bode well.

Rather exit 'sad,' Wallace says

Rather exit 'sad,' Wallace says
NEW YORK -- Calling it a "sad, bloody story," veteran 60 Minutes correspondent Mike Wallace expressed regret about Dan Rather's departure from CBS but said Rather wasn't finished yet. "You wait and see, he's going to find his place," Wallace told a packed house Wednesday at the annual conference of PromaxBDA in New York. "We're going to be hearing from Dan. He's a superb reporter." Wallace and CNN host Larry King received the organizations' TV Century Awards. Wallace has in the past suggested that Rather should have resigned for his role in the discredited 60 Minutes Wednesday report on President Bush's military career that led to the firing of one producer and the forced resignations of four executives. But Wallace was much more conciliatory Wednesday, a day after Rather and CBS News parted ways.

Cooper working part-time at '60 Minutes'

Cooper working part-time at '60 Minutes'
NEW YORK -- CNN's Anderson Cooper will become a 60 Minutes contributor in the fall, reporting four or five stories to the landmark CBS show. Cooper will remain the headliner of Anderson Cooper 360, the two-hour late-night news show on CNN. He will contribute the 60 Minutes stories using a rotating group of producers while on his days off from CNN, with his first airing on CBS sometime after the new season begins in September. It's not the first time Cooper has worked with CBS. The former ABC News correspondent contributed stories to 60 Minutes II while it was on, and 60 Minutes had always wanted to retain him somehow.

Not Schieffer's favorite year; CBS loved it

Not Schieffer's favorite year; CBS loved it
NEW YORK -- When Bob Schieffer took over at the CBS Evening News a year ago tonight, it was supposed to be only a temporary assignment. The CBS News veteran had long ago thought the route to the anchor chair was closed to him. He had been passed over in 1980 when CBS looked to replace Walter Cronkite, and Dan Rather spent 24 years in the job. Schieffer worked in Washington, anchored the weekend evening news and, beginning in 1993, moderated Face the Nation. So he was as surprised as anyone when CBS chief Leslie Moonves asked him to come to New York to right the ship after the 60 Minutes Wednesday scandal and Rather's departure. But he did it, knowing his network needed him.

CNBC names Howard head of docu unit

CNBC names Howard head of docu unit
NEW YORK -- CNBC has hired former 60 Minutes Wednesday executive producer Josh Howard to lead its documentary unit in an expansion of the Peabody Award-winning programs on the business channel. After the discredited report on President Bush's military career that aired in early September 2004, Howard was one of four CBS News employees asked to resign following an independent panel's report; producer Mary Mapes was fired, and Dan Rather was forced to leave the anchor chair. CNBC president Mark Hoffman said he had met Howard eight years ago and had kept in intermittent contact with him since then. Sometime during the summer, months after Howard had left CBS News, the two reconnected and started talking about the job.

Mapes tell-all slams CBS News

Mapes tell-all slams CBS News
NEW YORK -- Fired CBS News producer Mary Mapes claims she was a scapegoat at the network in the wake of what has come to be known as "Memogate", according to an excerpt of her new book to be published in the November issue of Vanity Fair. Mapes, an award-winning producer who uncovered the Abu Ghraib prison scandal earlier in 2004, described how her initial elation over a successful 60 Minutes Wednesday piece on President Bush's military career quickly turned sour as right-wing bloggers mounted an attack on the memos that she said had been cleared by two analysts. She said a "strong and reasoned defense" had been made on the next night's CBS Evening News but that one key source called the next day to say that he believed the documents were not real.

'Wednesday' staffers begin hearing news

NEW YORK -- Staff members at the canceled 60 Minutes Wednesday have begun learning their fates. It wasn't clear Thursday how many of the roughly 75 CBS News staff members assigned to 60 Minutes Wednesday would remain with the network. Ever since the show's cancellation was announced last week along with next year's CBS schedule, the network has said it would try to make room at other shows for the staffers affected. But it wasn't clear how many openings there were for talent or behind-the-scenes employees on the Sunday edition of 60 Minutes or elsewhere in the news division. CBS News president Andrew Heyward was unavailable for comment Thursday night. A CBS News spokesman declined to discuss how many cuts would be made or any details.

CBS finalizes fall sked with 4 dramas, 2 comedies

CBS has integrated four new dramas and two comedies to its fall while dropping newsmagazine 60 Minutes Wednesday and dramas Judging Amy and Joan of Arcadia. The eye network will retain its powerhouse Monday comedy block, moving Two and a Half Men to the 9 p.m. slot vacated by Everybody Loves Raymond, and strengthening the 8 p.m. hour by bringing The King of Queens back from its Wednesday home of the past two seasons. Monday 8:30 p.m. will see the launch of a new comedy How I Met Your Mother, while the 9:30 p.m. post-"Men" slot goes to Out of Practice, a new sitcom from Frasier veterans Christopher Lloyd and Joe Keenan. CSI: Miami stays put at 10 p.m. Tuesday remains status quo from 8-10 p.m. with drama NCIS and The Amazing Race leading into new 10 p.m. Jerry Bruckheimer drama Close to Home, starring Jennifer Finnigan as a prosecutor juggling work and family issues.

CBS cancels '60 Minutes Wednesday'

CBS cancels '60 Minutes Wednesday'
NEW YORK -- After months of speculation and one of the hardest years of any show in TV journalism, 60 Minutes Wednesday has been canceled by CBS. The 6 1/2-year-old show had come under an unprecedented assault for its flawed report on President Bush's National Guard service in the early 1970s, which led to an independent investigation, the forced departure of five longtime employees and Dan Rather stepping down from his CBS Evening News anchor chair. But from the network's perspective, 60 Minutes Wednesday had an even bigger problem: ratings. "This was a ratings call, not a content call," CBS chief Leslie Moonves said. "I know that was a question." He added that the report scandal had nothing to do with the cancellation, saying, "If '60 Minutes Wednesday' had a 10 rating, it would be on the air." Ratings had fallen 14% across the board, dropping from 9.9 million viewers last season to 8.5 million this year. It also was the oldest-skewing show on the network. It and three other shows have been swept aside in a youth movement, leaving 60 Minutes as the oldest program on CBS' schedule next year.

'Dominant' CBS has its eye on younger crowd

'Dominant' CBS has its eye on younger crowd
NEW YORK -- Bolstered by the depth of its 2005 primetime series bench, CBS is stepping up its pursuit of younger viewers, replacing its oldest-skewing shows with six new series unveiled at its upfront presentation Wednesday at Carnegie Hall in Manhattan. "CBS will remain the most dominant network for many, many years to come," CBS chairman Leslie Moonves assured the upfront crowd. "The playing field is not level, not by a long shot." Looking to build on its momentum from this season, the eye network canceled three of the programs attracting its most aged audiences: news magazine 60 Minutes Wednesday, veteran drama Judging Amy and Joan of Arcadia, which initially drew buzz with its divinely inspired teen protagonist but struggled in its second season. Some of the series taking their places are aimed at lowering CBS' median age in primetime, which has hovered around 51 this season compared with around 52 last season. Friday in particular is part of the youth movement, pairing a new drama featuring 25-year-old actress Jennifer Love Hewitt as a medium who communicates with the dead, titled Ghost Whisperer, followed at 9 p.m. by Threshold, a sci-fi thriller about extra-terrestrials.

CBS finalizes fall sked with 4 dramas, 2 comedies

CBS finalizes fall sked with 4 dramas, 2 comedies
CBS is integrated four new dramas and two comedies to its fall 2005 primetime lineup while dropping newsmagazine 60 Minutes Wednesday and dramas Judging Amy and Joan of Arcadia. The eye network will retain its powerhouse Monday comedy block, moving Two and a Half Men to the 9 p.m. slot vacated by Everybody Loves Raymond, and strengthening the 8 p.m. hour by bringing The King of Queens back from its Wednesday home of the past two seasons. Monday 8:30 p.m. will see the launch of a new comedy How I Met Your Mother, while the 9:30 p.m. post-"Men" slot goes to Out of Practice, a new sitcom from Frasier veterans Christopher Lloyd and Joe Keenan. CSI: Miami stays put at 10 p.m. Tuesday remains status quo from 8-10 p.m. with drama NCIS and The Amazing Race leading into new 10 p.m. Jerry Bruckheimer drama Close to Home, starring Jennifer Finnigan as a prosecutor juggling work and family issues.

Rather accepts Peabody with nod to allies

Rather accepts Peabody with nod to allies
NEW YORK -- With thanks to two former colleagues who left CBS in the wake of a scandal, CBS News' Dan Rather accepted the Peabody Award on Monday for the 60 Minutes Wednesday story that exposed the shocking conditions inside Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison. In one of his first public appearances since leaving the network's anchor chair in March, Rather and Mary Mapes accepted broadcast journalism's most prestigious honor at a luncheon at the Waldorf Astoria in Midtown Manhattan. Rather took pains to acknowledge Mapes and former CBS News senior vp Betsy West (who also attended the ceremony), among others. Mapes was fired by CBS News and West was forced to resign in the wake of another 60 Minutes Wednesday report, which aired in September and used questionable documents as part of the sourcing for a highly critical report on President Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard.

'60 Minutes' pair honored with Peabody

'60 Minutes' pair honored with Peabody
WASHINGTON -- Dan Rather and Mary Mapes, the CBS News producer who was fired this year in connection with the 60 Minutes Wednesday segment about President Bush's National Guard service, have earned a Peabody Award for their earlier story for the newsmagazine that exposed the abuses committed by U.S. military personnel at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The 32 winners of the 64th annual George Foster Peabody Awards, administered by the University of Georgia and announced Thursday in New York, include former NBC chief Grant Tinker, HBO's drama series Deadwood and Emmy-winning telefilm Something the Lord Made, CNBC for a documentary on Wal-Mart and Comedy Central's The Daily Show With Jon Stewart for its presidential campaign coverage called Indecision 2004.

'60 Minutes' producer resigns

NEW YORK -- Josh Howard, the 60 Minutes Wednesday exec producer whose first show included the fateful Memogate story, resigned from CBS News on Tuesday. Howard was one of three CBS News executives asked to resign in January after an independent panel's report found that CBS used questionable documents in its story that alleged President Bush received favored treatment when he was a Texas Air National Guard pilot in the early 1970s. The other two executives, CBS News senior vp Betsy West and senior broadcast producer Mary Murphy, resigned several weeks ago. But Howard had refused until Tuesday. In recent weeks, the two sides had been negotiating his exit, according to a source. No details were released. In a statement Tuesday, CBS News confirmed his resignation.

CBS News in age-bias suit

NEW YORK -- A CBS News staffer has filed an age-bias lawsuit against CBS in the latest fallout from September's "Memogate" controversy. Esther Kartiganer, 67, claimed in the lawsuit filed Wednesday that she also had been defamed in a statement made by CBS chairman Leslie Moonves. That statement accompanied the Jan. 10 independent panel report on a flawed story aired in September on 60 Minutes Wednesday about President Bush's military service in the early 1970s. Kartiganer had been senior producer of 60 Minutes Wednesday, part of a staff change that took place before the season premiere of the show. She said in her lawsuit that she was demoted from the position of senior producer of 60 Minutes when she was transferred to the Wednesday edition. Kartiganer said she was replaced by a woman 20 years younger.

Rather weighs anchor: Recent furor taints long career

NEW YORK -- When Dan Rather steps down as anchor of the CBS Evening News tonight, immediately at least he'll be remembered as much for the events of the past six months as the five decades of distinguished reporting that led up to what's known today as Memogate. But that doesn't take into account the 50-plus-year career as a broadcast journalist that has seen much triumph, associates and observers say. True, Rather's reputation has been badly strained by the 60 Minutes Wednesday report about President Bush's National Guard service in the 1970s that caused so much controversy in September and, after an independent panel's report, led to the ouster of four staffers at CBS News. In November, before the report was released, Rather decided to step down from the anchor desk, though he will remain at CBS News as a reporter for both editions of 60 Minutes. "It's a shame because, clearly, he'll be remembered for this," said Sam Roberts, a former CBS News executive who worked with Rather and is now a professor of broadcast journalism at the University of Miami. "But he should also be remembered for all the great work he did."

Rather retro won't shy from Memogate

Rather retro won't shy from Memogate
NEW YORK -- The executive producer of "Dan Rather: A Reporter Remembers" said Wednesday's retrospective of Rather's career doesn't flinch from what has become known as Memogate. Susan Zirinsky, the executive producer of 48 Hours who has known Rather for more than 30 years, said part of the hourlong broadcast will be devoted to the controversy following a flawed 60 Minutes Wednesday report on President Bush's military service. "We deal with it. Dan talks about it; we put it in the right perspective," Zirinsky said. She acknowledges, however, there won't be any new revelations. "There's nothing in this program ... that's going to shock any of you out there," she said. "Dan Rather was a journalist for some 50 years in broadcasting, and we had 43 years to put into 43 minutes. It's dealt with."

'Idol' gives Fox Wed.; 'Model' hot for UPN

UPN perked up considerably Wednesday, the final night of the February sweep, with the return of its reality franchise America's Next Top Model, but Fox nonetheless won the night by a comfortable margin with the Nielsen steroid injection of American Idol at 9 p.m. Law & Order also looked lively, topping CBS' CSI: NY in the 10 p.m. hour. ABC's Lost was a little off its recent game in the adults 18-49 demo but still easily took the opening hour of primetime with an average of 18.9 million viewers and a 7.0 rating/19 share in the demo, according to Nielsen Media Research. UPN's Top Model (5.1 million, 2.2/6) got off to a good start by UPN standards and actually beat its much older sibling broadcaster, CBS, in adults 18-49 with 60 Minutes Wednesday (7.4 million, 1.6/4).

Viewers bow before Wednesday 'Idol'

Lost was lofty for ABC on Wednesday, but Fox lapped the primetime playing field again with another powerful performance from American Idol. Meanwhile, the seesaw competition between CBS' CSI: NY and NBC's Law & Order continued in the 10 p.m. hour, with the eye network's drama tops in the adults 18-49 demographic, while the peacock's stalwart had the advantage in total viewers. ABC got off to a strong start at 8 p.m., with Lost drawing 19.5 million viewers and a 7.5 rating/20 share in the adults 18-49 demo, according to Nielsen Media Research. CBS was a distant No. 2 in the hour in viewers with 60 Minutes Wednesday (9.4 million, 2.3/6). Fox continued to struggle with 8:30 p.m.'s The Simple Life: Interns (8.2 million, 3.6/9), which has not demonstrated the drawing power of the two previous incarnations of the Paris Hilton-Nicole Richie reality-comedy vehicle, and it lost ground from its 8 p.m. lead-in, That '70s Show (8.3 million, 3.8/10).
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