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Rather Outspoken: My Life in the News Hardcover – May 1, 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 122 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


A renowned journalist settles scores in this investigation of how the news media has become dangerously intertwined with politics and corporate interests.

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.
--Publisher's Weekly

About the Author

Dan Rather is an award winning journalist who anchored CBS Evening News for decades. He is one of America's most decorated news journalists of all time.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; First Edition edition (May 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1455502413
  • ISBN-13: 978-1455502417
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (122 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,068,789 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I have worked for network television news for over 30 years, only Mr. Rather has the courage to tell the absolute truth :

On the Standards of American Journalism Today

"American journalism is in crisis, in my opinion, there are a lot of reasons for that, but not the least is what's happened to the business of journalism as well of the practice (of journalism). There has been the corporatization, the politicization and the trivialization of the news...and in many ways, we in journalism have lost our spine, we've lost our grit, our gut...I see some signs of it getting somewhat better...but we now have a situation where no more than 6, possibly as few as 4, major global corporations, control about 80% or more of our true national circulation (news media)...Very big business... is `in bed' with big government in Washington whether it be Republican or Democratic. That affects what you see, hear and read in the news, and that is not a very good situation for us. Because you and I know that a free press, an independent, fiercely independent press is necessarily the red beating heart of democracy. When you diminish the standards, when you have this political and business influence, it's not healthy. Whether you consider yourself a conservative, or progressive or liberal it's not good for the country".
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Format: Hardcover
I just finished reading this book. I recommend it to anyone who wonders how corporations influence the media. What I took away from the book is the following:

The fourth part of checks and balances in this country is a free press. It is enshrined in our Constitution and Bill of Rights, and is an integral part of informed voting and participation in our democracy. The public is entitled to receive information, despite making angry those who don't wish certain information to be known. Oftentimes, it is precisely that hidden information that MUST be known. The corporatization, trivialization, politicization of the press is a serious national problem that continues to grow worse. The problem is that the public is becoming more and more desensitized to the sensationalistic corporate "news" being aired today.

A most excellent book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Rather Outspoken" is a remarkable book. While the book resembles an autobiography, it becomes clear early on that Rather's real purpose is to set the record straight--as he sees it--on the September, 2004 CBS 60 Minutes Wednesday program that purported to detail President George W. Bush's record in the Texas Air National Guard. Rather's view is that the story that was told, i.e., that Bush used his father's influence to get into the Guard (to avoid Vietnam) and that he didn't complete his required amount of military service was accurately reported. He claims that the CBS duet of Viacom chief Sumner Redstone and CBS honcho Les Moonves had too many corporate interests at stake in Washington and had to find a way to walk back the Guard story. According to Rather, they hired former Attorney General (under President George H.W. Bush) Richard Thornburgh to investigate where the 60 Minutes Wednesday story went wrong. Rather's view is that Thornburgh had figured out his main conclusions before he started his work and that there really wasn't an investigation--it was just a ruse to let CBS walk away from the broadcast and to ease Rather out of the Company.

What makes this book remarkable is that first-class investigative reporter Dan Rather (in part through facts he secured by spending hundreds of thousands of his own dollars on unsuccessful litigation against CBS) makes an extremely strong case for his point of view. According to Rather, Redstone and Moonves used (now deposed) CBS News President Andrew Heyward to do most of their bidding. Clearly, if there is a goat in this book, it is clearly Heyward who was eventually "bought off" in Rather's view with a $2,000,000 severance package.
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Format: Hardcover
This is Dan Rather through and through. You can hear his voice through his writing.

I've long been a fan of his journalism and was quite sad about how things were handled regarding the Bush situation. When you see someone you admire taken down so swiftly, you wonder about the details. Dan does not leave you hanging here. It's all here in black and white!

I just have to say...
This is one of the best autobiographies that I have ever read. You feel the truth and the emotion behind every word. I will recommend this book to everyone I know.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dan Rather is a courageous man and a true American Legend. This book is nothing short of honesty and integrity. Highly recommend for anyone wanting to study the greats and to learn about true journalism and the business that surrounds it.
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Format: Hardcover
If you don't read any other part of the book, I heartily recommend the section on Rather's experiences in the South covering the desegregation story. I found the details to be disturbing even after all these years. I was unaware of the extent to which children were the focus of police actions. Rather's account of the difficulties in covering that story--both physically and politically--makes for riveting reading.

As for the rest of it, I won't say I found every chapter equally riveting, but I have followed Dan Rather for decades and was not the least bit surprised at anything I read. This book rings through and through with Rather's authentic voice at his Boy Scout best. For that is what he is, a man who believes in things and people and who is constantly pained when they don't live up to his high standards. Lucky for him he has a wife with sense enough to know that when you take on a sitting president, you can expect to get knocked down.

Like him or not--and I love his heart-on-the-sleeve style--you can't deny he has his own code that he has lived by, no matter what the cost. We hear a lot about anchors with gravitas--Walter Cronkite no doubt had it in spades--but the other qualities admired by the ancient Romans--duty, honor, tenacity, hard work, and courage--that's Dan Rather to the core.
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