Oct. 5, 2004
Lehrer Critical of Rather, Networks on The Kalb
As Jim Lehrer sees it, CBS News Anchor Dan Rather demonstrated poor judgment
and sloppy journalism when he used what turned out to be unverified documents
as the support for a story criticizing President George W. Bushs
National Guard service. The executive editor and anchor of The NewsHour
with Jim Lehrer offered that candid opinion as the featured guest
for the 40th production of The Kalb Report on Sept. 20. Lehrer
went on to sharply rebuke all three broadcast networks for limiting their
coverage of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions to three
hours each over four nights.
At The News Hour this would not have been a routine story
[of the CBS news scandal], Lehrer said, arguing that a story of
this magnitude should have received greater scrutiny before airing. I
find it difficult to replicate this situation in any news organization
Ive worked with. Youve got to handle a story like this like
Lehrer also pulled no punches when he criticized decision makers at ABC,
CBS and NBC who defended their lack of convention coverage on the basis
of ratings and the changing role of the convention.
They essentially said, Dont watch us, commented
Lehrer. Next year they can say, Look how low our ratings were,
we can do even less.
The award-winning Kalb Report public affairs series received a
grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation to produce
four forums during the 200405 academic year, two programs this fall
and two more in the spring. The foundation was established in 1982 by
Edith Kinney Gaylord for charitable, scientific and educational purposes,
including the improvement of journalism.
The Kalb Report series is produced by GW Vice President for Communications
Michael Freedman, and is a public affairs partnership between GW, The
National Press Club, The Joan Shorenstein Center on The Press, Politics
and Public Policy at Harvard University, and News Talk 630 WMAL Radio.
The forum aired live on WMAL and for the first time on XM Satellite Radio,
which will bring the entire series to a national radio audience this academic
year. The program also was taped for public television.
The topic for next edition of The Kalb Report will be Talk
Show Democracy, and is scheduled for Oct. 18 at 8 pm in the National
Press Club. Tickets are free and available at the Marvin Center TicketMaster
or by calling 994-6460.
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