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Book Review: Rather Outspoken: My Life in the News by Dan Rather and Digby Diehl

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Rather Outspoken invites the reader to a candid and honest conversation with Dan Rather about his amazing career iin the news business.

Rather has spent over 60 years in television news, 44 of them at CBS. He specializes in investigative journalism, and in his career, he has covered presidents from Eisenhower to Obama. He was hated and threatened while covering the Civil Rights movement, was in danger while hitching rides on helicopters and tanks in Vietnam, helped break the Watergate story, and covered 9/11.

But, with the 2000s and George W. Bush’s administration, two stories brought the most controversy within CBS and with the White House and led to Rather’s dismissal from the news division at the network: the revelation of the horrors being inflicted on prisoners of war at Abu Ghraib and the televised investigation of Bush’s alleged dereliction of duty as part of the Texas National Guard during the Vietnam Era. According to Rather, the failure of the network to stand behind him and the other reporters on the Bush story signaled the beginning of the “corporization, politicization, and trivialization” of the news.

Anyone who doubts that the free press in America has lost a tremendous amount of that freedom in many instances will be enlightened by this book, especially by the contrast between Rather’s experiences in Vietnam, where he could go anywhere and talk to anyone if he was willing to risk hitching a ride on a helicopter or tank into combat zones, and his later experiences in Afghanistan, where everything was controlled and orchestrated.

Or contrast the way the network stood firmly behind its people even when Southern affiliates were threatening to pull their coverage during the Civil Rights movement and the reaction of CBS corporate to the criticism of the Bush National Guard story.

Rather, now in his 80s, still continues to report the news at HDNet with an award-winning series, Dan Rather Reports. He remains one of the legendary newsmen of our time and he continues to be dedicated to telling the truth, no matter what the cost. Rather Outspoken is a riveting memoir and a concise and thoughtful commentary on the state of American network news then and now.

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About Rhetta Akamatsu

I am an author of non-fiction books and an online journalist. My books include Haunted Marietta, The Irish Slaves, T'ain't Nobody's Business If I Do: Blues Women Past and Present, and Sex Sells: Women in Photography and Film.