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 Dan Rather: 'Quote approval' a media sellout 
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Post Dan Rather: 'Quote approval' a media sellout
An example of how far the media has fallen:
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Dan Rather: 'Quote approval' a media sellout
By Dan Rather, Special to CNN
updated 7:34 AM EDT, Thu July 19, 2012

Editor's note: Dan Rather is anchor and managing editor of AXS TV's "Dan Rather Reports," which runs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET. For more, visit Dan Rather's official website, Dan Rather Reports on Facebook and Dan Rather Reports on Twitter.

(CNN) -- A New York Times front-page article Monday detailed a new phenomenon in news coverage of the presidential campaign: candidates insisting on "quote approval," telling reporters what they can and cannot use in some stories. And, stunningly, reporters agreeing to it.

This, folks, is news. Any way you look at it, this is a jaw-dropping turn in journalism, and it raises a lot of questions. Among them: Can you trust the reporters and news organizations who do this? Is it ever justified on the candidate's side or on the reporter's side? Where is this leading us?

As someone who's been covering presidential campaigns since the 1950s, I have no delusions about political reporting. Candidates bargaining access to get the kind of news coverage they want is nothing new. The thicket of attribution and disclosure deals is a deep maze reporters have been picking their way through even before my time. But this latest tactic by candidates revealed by the Times gives me, to say the least, great pause. It should give every citizen pause.

Essentially, what the Times described was the rapid rise of "quote approval" -- a strategy deployed by campaigns requiring reporters to send quotations they intend to use to candidates' press officers, to be sliced, diced, edited and drained of color or unwanted consequences, and reporters going along, fearing that if they don't, they won't get access.

Here's how it works: Let's say a reporter is granted an interview with a senior strategist of the Obama or Romney campaign. A condition for the interview would be that before the reporter could send the story to the editor, he or she would have to agree to submit for approval every quote intended to be used to the campaign press staff.

Let us mark well this Faustian bargain. It is for the benefit of the politicians, at the expense of readers, listeners and viewers. It is not in the public interest; it is designed to further the candidates' interests.

Political operatives cannot be blamed for wanting this. We, the press, should be held accountable for letting them have it.

Thomas Jefferson said: "The only security of all is in a free press." A free and truly independent press -- fiercely independent when necessary -- is the red beating heart of freedom and democracy. One of the most important roles of our journalists is to be watchdogs. Submitting to these new tactics puts us more in the category of lapdogs.

For many years, it has been typical journalistic practice for high-ranking officials on the campaign or in the White House to demand that interviews be conducted "on background" -- meaning reporters agree to not use direct quotes or identify the person by name. Hence, conventions such as "As one campaign official said ..." This, in many cases, is defensible. But the practice described in the Times is something new and different. This is the officials or candidates regularly insisting that reporters essentially become an operative arm of the administration or campaign they are covering.

"Quote approval" nullifies, or at least seriously dilutes, reporters' ability and duty to be honest brokers of information. When the quotes are sanitized, then delivered intact with full attribution, the public has no way of knowing what the concealed deal was.

Please know that there is no joy in calling attention to these things. I respect and empathize with reporters and editors who must compete in today's environment. And I know full well that when I've been covering campaigns, which I still do, I've made my mistakes and have been far from perfect.

About all of us doing this line of work, I'm often reminded of a sign in an old Wild West cow town saloon that said, "Please don't shoot the piano player, he's doing the best he can."

But we journalists can do better. We must.

Dean Baquet, the excellent managing editor for news at the Times, said in Monday's story, referring to quote approval: "We don't like the practice. We encourage our reporters to push back. Unfortunately, this practice is becoming increasingly common, and maybe we have to push back harder."

Yes. The Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and a few other newspapers, along with the major networks, are among the few news outlets that have the leverage to push back -- soon and hard. It's action worthy of us. And it's important. It matters.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion

http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/19/opinion/r ... Stories%29

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July 19th, 2012, 12:24 pm
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Post Re: Dan Rather: 'Quote approval' a media sellout
And Dan Rather continues to impress and show how Reporting is SUPPOSED to be.

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July 19th, 2012, 1:20 pm
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Post Re: Dan Rather: 'Quote approval' a media sellout
regularjoe12 wrote:
And Dan Rather continues to impress and show how Reporting is SUPPOSED to be.


You're joking right? The reason Dan Rather isn't on network news anymore is because of the forged document he pushed so hard on about Bush. It was easily proved false, but he never took the time to investigate it either. He let his own personal politics sway his judgement and it came back to bite him hard. I agree with his point here, but Dan Rather fell off the respectable wagon along time ago.


July 19th, 2012, 1:28 pm
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Post Re: Dan Rather: 'Quote approval' a media sellout
njroar wrote:
regularjoe12 wrote:
And Dan Rather continues to impress and show how Reporting is SUPPOSED to be.


You're joking right? The reason Dan Rather isn't on network news anymore is because of the forged document he pushed so hard on about Bush. It was easily proved false, but he never took the time to investigate it either. He let his own personal politics sway his judgement and it came back to bite him hard. I agree with his point here, but Dan Rather fell off the respectable wagon along time ago.


Thats the first I have ever heard about himdoing anything like that. I've always heard of him being a pillar of integrity...

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July 19th, 2012, 1:32 pm
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Post Re: Dan Rather: 'Quote approval' a media sellout
regularjoe12 wrote:
njroar wrote:
regularjoe12 wrote:
And Dan Rather continues to impress and show how Reporting is SUPPOSED to be.


You're joking right? The reason Dan Rather isn't on network news anymore is because of the forged document he pushed so hard on about Bush. It was easily proved false, but he never took the time to investigate it either. He let his own personal politics sway his judgement and it came back to bite him hard. I agree with his point here, but Dan Rather fell off the respectable wagon along time ago.


Thats the first I have ever heard about himdoing anything like that. I've always heard of him being a pillar of integrity...

Wow really? You never heard about this? Did you ever wonder why he lost his anchor job? Not trying to be condescending, I'm just curious if you've ever heard anything or thought about that.

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July 19th, 2012, 1:53 pm
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Post Re: Dan Rather: 'Quote approval' a media sellout
regularjoe12 wrote:
njroar wrote:
regularjoe12 wrote:
And Dan Rather continues to impress and show how Reporting is SUPPOSED to be.


You're joking right? The reason Dan Rather isn't on network news anymore is because of the forged document he pushed so hard on about Bush. It was easily proved false, but he never took the time to investigate it either. He let his own personal politics sway his judgement and it came back to bite him hard. I agree with his point here, but Dan Rather fell off the respectable wagon along time ago.


Thats the first I have ever heard about himdoing anything like that. I've always heard of him being a pillar of integrity...


Just look up Killian documents or Rathergate. This is just one incident, but he's had his issues with his political stance in the past as well, even though that never really tarnished his integrity. He walked away from his desk when he got upset that the US Open was running long and cut into the news. The entire network broadcast 6 minutes of dead air because he refused to return to the desk. Bush 1 embarrassed him when he asked about Iran-Contra and Bush asked if his entire career should be judged by the 6 minutes he walked away from his desk.

The real issue is even after he was forced to resign from CBS, he kept defending the documents, even calling them "fake but accurate." Even to this day, he blames it all on political activists spreading lies, instead of him and his producers failing to vet the sources. The source came out immediately and said he forged them, but that never mattered to Rather. He believed it to be true and he wanted to force the issue.

Rather believes HE is the news and when you're ego becomes more important than the news itself, you become the very thing you're complaining about with the media.


Last edited by njroar on July 19th, 2012, 2:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.



July 19th, 2012, 2:01 pm
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Post Re: Dan Rather: 'Quote approval' a media sellout
Touchdown Jesus wrote:
regularjoe12 wrote:
njroar wrote:
regularjoe12 wrote:
And Dan Rather continues to impress and show how Reporting is SUPPOSED to be.


You're joking right? The reason Dan Rather isn't on network news anymore is because of the forged document he pushed so hard on about Bush. It was easily proved false, but he never took the time to investigate it either. He let his own personal politics sway his judgement and it came back to bite him hard. I agree with his point here, but Dan Rather fell off the respectable wagon along time ago.


Thats the first I have ever heard about himdoing anything like that. I've always heard of him being a pillar of integrity...

Wow really? You never heard about this? Did you ever wonder why he lost his anchor job? Not trying to be condescending, I'm just curious if you've ever heard anything or thought about that.


Wow I guess Im seriously out of the loop...i thought he retired. Disreguard my previous post i guess. I apearantly need to go do my homework. I was completely clueless about that.

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July 19th, 2012, 2:04 pm
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Post Re: Dan Rather: 'Quote approval' a media sellout
njroar wrote:
regularjoe12 wrote:
And Dan Rather continues to impress and show how Reporting is SUPPOSED to be.


You're joking right? The reason Dan Rather isn't on network news anymore is because of the forged document he pushed so hard on about Bush. It was easily proved false, but he never took the time to investigate it either. He let his own personal politics sway his judgement and it came back to bite him hard. I agree with his point here, but Dan Rather fell off the respectable wagon along time ago.
Curious if you and others disregard anything 'Dan Rather' because of this incident. IMO, regardless of previous incidents, he speaks the truth in this article. Being as your a journalist, what are your thoughts?

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July 19th, 2012, 2:07 pm
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Post Re: Dan Rather: 'Quote approval' a media sellout
I even said in my initial post that he was right about this. A quote is what is said, not what is approved. And it's up to the journalist to stand up and write the story as it happens, not as the interviewee wants the story to be portrayed. That's what press releases are for. If they cut out out, that's another story to be written.

And I don't disregard Rather, but I don't take his word as Gospel either, as he used to be. His mistake wasn't reporting on the documents. It was even after the inaccuracies came out, he didn't apologize, but rather just wrote it off as a smear campaign. Journalists make mistakes. We trust the wrong sources, we're given information meant to intentionally mislead us, but we have a duty to report the truth. Even though this was just one incident, he's never owned up to his own lies about it and the fact that he has never owned up to it, means that he can't be trusted to be looked up to for journalistic integrity.

The media is about trust. We're supposed to trust them to give us accurate information. Some of it might be slanted a particular way and that's not ideal, but expected in this day and age. But that trust can't be there if even when proven to have given false information, a journalist stands by that false information. Journalists are protected from having to name their sources. They aren't protected from their own lies and mistakes. There's a reason why he's on an online only news broadcast now, and his writing is all freelance. When the mass media no longer trusts you, you've lost everything you've built.

This incident and many others like it are the very reason people don't trust the media anymore. This happened in 2004, when there was still some, albiet already declining, decent media coverage. If he said this now on MSNBC, he'd still have his job. His ability to pass this off as blame on others instead of his own failure to research his own report, is what every news broadcast that is mostly opinion is doing now. They can say anything they want, because it's too easily accepted that "political games" are the reason there's dispute. The truth rarely matters now in TV. Luckily there's still some standards in print, and very few online sites, but as long as the public buys into it, there won't be any change.


July 19th, 2012, 2:42 pm
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Post Re: Dan Rather: 'Quote approval' a media sellout
I also am not disregarding his opinion. That wasn't my intent with my reply. I think he is right here. He's calling attention to something that is seriously wrong.

In my opinion, just because someone has done something you disagree with doesn't mean you should dismiss everything they say. Even if you disagree with almost everything a person says, does, etc., it doesn't mean you should dismiss them. I always try to read what people say, even if I disagree. It's like when people don't bother to read what Obama, Rachel Maddow, Rush Limbaugh, or Bush say because they generally disagree with them. Hear the person out, then decide if what they are saying has merit. To judge before hearing/reading it is uninformed at best, and ignorant/prejudicial at worst.

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July 19th, 2012, 3:25 pm
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Post Re: Dan Rather: 'Quote approval' a media sellout
Thx fellas, and I apologize njroar, I totally missed where you agreed on the article.

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July 19th, 2012, 3:38 pm
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Post Re: Dan Rather: 'Quote approval' a media sellout
Touchdown Jesus wrote:
I also am not disregarding his opinion. That wasn't my intent with my reply. I think he is right here. He's calling attention to something that is seriously wrong.

In my opinion, just because someone has done something you disagree with doesn't mean you should dismiss everything they say. Even if you disagree with almost everything a person says, does, etc., it doesn't mean you should dismiss them. I always try to read what people say, even if I disagree. It's like when people don't bother to read what Obama, Rachel Maddow, Rush Limbaugh, or Bush say because they generally disagree with them. Hear the person out, then decide if what they are saying has merit. To judge before hearing/reading it is uninformed at best, and ignorant/prejudicial at worst.


I agree, but it's kind of like Jim Crow speaking out against racism, Bernie Madoff speaking out against ponzi schemes, or Jeffery Dahmer speaking out against cannibalism. I wish relevant people currently in the industry (Anderson Cooper, Bill O, etc.) would come out and say the same thing. I bet Bill O does.


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Post Re: Dan Rather: 'Quote approval' a media sellout
wjb21ndtown wrote:
Touchdown Jesus wrote:
I also am not disregarding his opinion. That wasn't my intent with my reply. I think he is right here. He's calling attention to something that is seriously wrong.

In my opinion, just because someone has done something you disagree with doesn't mean you should dismiss everything they say. Even if you disagree with almost everything a person says, does, etc., it doesn't mean you should dismiss them. I always try to read what people say, even if I disagree. It's like when people don't bother to read what Obama, Rachel Maddow, Rush Limbaugh, or Bush say because they generally disagree with them. Hear the person out, then decide if what they are saying has merit. To judge before hearing/reading it is uninformed at best, and ignorant/prejudicial at worst.


I agree, but it's kind of like Jim Crow speaking out against racism, Bernie Madoff speaking out against ponzi schemes, or Jeffery Dahmer speaking out against cannibalism. I wish relevant people currently in the industry (Anderson Cooper, Bill O, etc.) would come out and say the same thing. I bet Bill O does.


Bill O has, and he's made his mistakes, but he's gotten on the next night and apologized. And I tend to watch all the news, even ones that I sit and laugh at the ridiculousness that comes out of their mouths. But unless you hear everything, you can't see what both sides are trying to hide.


July 19th, 2012, 11:05 pm
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Post Re: Dan Rather: 'Quote approval' a media sellout
Here is the independent panel report for rathergate if anyone wants to read it...

http://wwwimage.cbsnews.com/htdocs/pdf/ ... Report.pdf

Rather believes the accounts of the story they went with are true, but he acknowledges that the documents that they published as proof were fakes (Killian's secretary at the time said that she didn't write these specific documents, but that the documents were representative of Killian's feelings about Bush at the time)...

The panel concluded that the errors were not political in nature, and while Rather is culpable here, it was an organizational breakdown... It's a significant mistake on Rather's part, it is just that... A mistake...

The source NJRoar is talking about was not the source of the documents... He was A source and he did identify the documents as fakes... But he also confirmed that the content in them was in line with what Killian had expressed to him at the time as well... So it's not exactly like WJB so ridiculously put it, like "Jim Crow speaking out against racism, Bernie Madoff speaking out against ponzi schemes, or Jeffery Dahmer speaking out against cannibalism."

Rather is still an ardent advocate for a free and independent press... I see him everywhere beating the drum for how the press has fallen off and he is dead on here as well.... My guess is that if you guys were more exposed to him recently, you'd see someone who is committed to good journalism and asking the industry to hold itself to a higher standard.... Or maybe not, because he's not a staunch conservative and therefore is part of the big bad leftist media agenda...


July 22nd, 2012, 5:57 pm
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