David Blum's Tick ... Tick ... Tick ..., the gossipy tell-all about television's 60 Minutes, came out in hardcover last year and has been a conversation-starter ever since. Due out this week is the paperback edition which contains some fresh goodies.
Among Blum's new revelations: The night before last fall's controversial National Guard piece aired, Rather called 60 Minutes Wednesday executive producer Josh Howard from the anchor desk to find out why he wasn't running promos for the story. When Howard told him he couldn't promote it -- CBS News president Andrew Heyward hadn't seen it yet, nor had the lawyers, and they hadn't even contacted the White House for comment -- Rather threatened to take the story to the Times that night. (Rather later backed down.) The anchor was feeling a good deal less of a cowboy after the story blew up in his face. According to the book, on the night before his on-air apology, Rather confessed to Howard that he'd had doubts about the veracity of the memos all along. "I knew when I did the [document consultant Marcel] Matley interview that something wasn't right with all this," Rather confessed to Howard, belying his stalwart public position.
Of course, Blum is relaying at least second-hand information that only indicates Rather had doubts. Last I checked
, Rather continues to maintain that the ANG story is true despite the lack of verifiable supporting evidence.
Nevertheless, if Blum's assertions are true, they indicate that Rather was forcefully shepherding the story and was fully prepared to bypass all normal editorial controls. The story unfolded more like the mission of a reckless cavalry lieutenant than the measured product of a prudent professional journalist.
Companion post at Interested-Participant.