With the assistance of Diehl, Rather (The American Dream: Stories from the Heart of Our Nation, 2002 etc.) comes out swinging as he delves into the circumstances behind his firing from CBS News, where he had worked as a reporter since 1962, covering everything from Vietnam to Watergate to the conditions at Abu Ghraib. Unfortunately for Rather, his determination to air a potentially damning story about then-president George W. Bush's spotty military record irked the higher-ups at CBS's parent company, Viacom, leaving the feisty anchor unemployed at 75. Never one to shirk controversy, he sued CBS for breach of contract; although the suit was dismissed before it could come to trial, he has no regrets and no qualms about naming names. Indeed, this memoir reads as a muckraker's delight, with Rather lambasting CBS management as "spineless" and "risk-averse." He painstakingly details the cloak-and-dagger operations that Bush proponents resorted to in an attempt to hide the truth and discredit Rather's source materials. Invoking Edward R. Murrow, Rather rails against those who would distort the news for their own gain and intentionally mislead the public. In between, he provides fair-minded portraits of the presidents he has interviewed, traces his passion for the news to his upbringing in a news-savvy family and expresses concern for the future of independent media in an industry that is increasingly kowtowing to the almighty bottom line. While Rather occasionally lapses into platitudes-a chapter on 9/11 offers little beyond well-worn observations about courage and patriotism-he always gives credit where credit is due, and his sincerity is never in doubt.
An engaging grab-bag: part folksy homage to roots, part exposé of institutional wrongdoing and part manifesto for a truly free press.
-- Kirkus Reviews
Anchor of the CBS Evening News for 24 years, much-honored newsman Rather has been working as a reporter for 64 years. He began his series of memoirs with The Camera Never Blinks (1977), a bestseller spanning his life from journalism study at Sam Houston State Teachers College to Watergate. He followed with I Remember (1991), recalling his Texas childhood, and The Camera Never Blinks Twice (1994) about TV journalism on location from Afghanistan to Vietnam. In this latest update to the series, his straight arrow honesty is punctuated with occasional humor: "It was long said of me that I had the CBS Eye tattooed somewhere on my ass." For a blistering opening chapter, he details the "absence of executive backbone" during CBS News' investigation of Abu Gharib: "The possibility that the financial and political interests of CBS corporate almost buried a story as compelling as Abu Gharib is most unsettling." He's equally outspoken on the "journalistic meltdown" when CBS News was ordered to drop its investigation into Bush's experience with the Texas Air National Guard. Throughout the book he delivers strong punches at those who stood in his way, but he also has much praise for the co-workers who joined him in his quest for the truth. With his usual conversational writing style, he maintains a personal connection with his readers in this riveting and revelatory autobiography that can also serve as a valuable textbook for anyone studying journalism.