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Neil Cavuto's Exclusive Interview With Dan Rather

Reported by Ellen - October 2, 2009 -

Guest blogged by Brian

Yesterday (10/01/09), Neil Cavuto conducted a two-part interview with Dan Rather on his $70 million lawsuit against CBS. In the first part of the interview, Rather discussed his reasons for the lawsuit, what he hoped to get out of it and some of his thoughts on the corporatization of television news (though not surprisingly, Cavuto never probed that topic). Still, Rather showed why he's one of TV's best reporters ever. Cavuto conducted the interview fairly and asked some good questions. But one has to wonder why, given his concern about news organizations working with powerful political interests, Rather gave Fox News an exclusive interview without questioning their blatant shilling for the GOP. With video.

"What are your lawyers saying?" Cavuto asked, about the recent appellate decision throwing out Rather’s case.

Rather said he plans to appeal again, to the highest court in New York. "Hopefully, they'll take the case, and I think they will."

"If they don’t, game over, right?" Cavuto said.

Yes, it would be game over, Rather acknowledged. But if the appeal is accepted, Rather said, “It opens up the possibility of continuing what we started… The basic reason I'm in it is, what kind of news are we going to have? We have very large corporate interests working with powerful political interests to manipulate the news, and the people who report the news. Whatever their political persuasion, I don't think the American people want that… We have strong documented evidence that what you've had here is, you’ve had a large corporation, Viacom/CBS, that basically buried an important news story in order to curry favor with and protect political interests who regulate them in Washington."

Cavuto asked, "Wasn't the issue with the quality of the documents that would support your story?"

Rather agreed that was “an issue.” But, he added, "The basic issue is whether we reported the truth."

"And you stand by the story,” Cavuto said. “…That it was accurate, that former President Bush tried to skirt around Vietnam military service?"

"I stand by the story as we reported it as accurate," Rather said.

Cavuto pressed, "The documents that seemed to, by some experts’ reckoning, to have been forged or fake, you say no?"

Rather replied, "I do… Nobody has proven that."

"How much have you spent of your own money on this? I've heard reports at a minimum two million, maybe more?" Cavuto asked.

"I'm not in it for the money,” Rather said, though he acknowledged it has been expensive. “Increasing corporate ownership, ever larger, happened over the years beginning, really, in the 1980's at CBS, and went through 3 or 4 different ownerships… All I'm asking is… let’s get in open court and let's have Mr. Moonves (CBS head), Mr. Redstone (Viacom)…"

Cavuto interrupted, "Now they have been kind of dismissive of this whole legal action of yours, and some, even in the broadcast community, Dan, have almost looked at you with pity."

"That's basically the CBS corporate position," Rather said.

"No. A lot of it is your colleagues and friends, too," Cavuto said. But he never said who.

Cavuto continued, "You had the charge then as now... that you entered with an agenda, and that you were rushing, in this case, an agenda in the middle of a 2004 heated campaign with John Kerry and President Bush, and that this was your effort to stick it to President Bush."

"I'm not perfect,” Rather said. “I didn’t have an agenda. I don't have an agenda."

"Did you rush it?" Cavuto asked.

"No,” Rather replied. “If it was rushed, it was rushed by those who had the responsibility of putting the broadcast on the air."