Lone Star: The Extraordinary Life and Times of Dan Rather

Overview

Alan Weisman has come as close as anyone to unraveling one of the big mysteries of the television age: who is the real Dan Rather? Weisman has devoted much time, energy, and talent to that question, and this book is a fascinating read.
—Robert Pierpoint, former CBS News correspondent

"There is no career in modern television journalism that is more fascinating, complicated, controversial, or accomplished than that of Dan Rather, and there is no one who has focused the attention ...

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Lone Star: The Extraordinary Life and Times of Dan Rather

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Overview

Alan Weisman has come as close as anyone to unraveling one of the big mysteries of the television age: who is the real Dan Rather? Weisman has devoted much time, energy, and talent to that question, and this book is a fascinating read.
—Robert Pierpoint, former CBS News correspondent

"There is no career in modern television journalism that is more fascinating, complicated, controversial, or accomplished than that of Dan Rather, and there is no one who has focused the attention of colleagues, TV writers, competitors, and, of course, critics to a similar degree over the last twenty-five years. Alan Weisman's lively account of this remarkable life explains why the quest to understand Rather has remained so vital and important."
—Verne Gay, television critic, Newsday

"This book is an attempt to take a few steps back from Memogate and examine the whole picture — the scope and breadth of Dan Rather's life, career, and times. If he mattered enough to be watched by untold millions of people for fifty years on television, then his story matters enough to be told as fully as possible."
—From Lone Star: The Extraordinary Life and Times of Dan Rather

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
* Dan Rather refused to be interviewed for “Lone Star: The Extraordinary Life and Times of Dan Rather,” telling author Alan Weisman that “there's nothing in this for me.”
Not so. This short, pugnacious and highly entertaining biography thumps many of Rather's enemies, of which there is no shortage.
Weisman, a retired CBS News writer and producer, takes a brief look at Rather's rise from humble Texas stock. Rather grew up sickly but tough in the same Houston-area neighborhood that produced racing legend A.J. Foyt. His struggle with rheumatic fever led to one of his lifelong mottos: “Never stay down.”
Rather had a wolverine's tenacity from the start and sometimes got more credit than due, as when Walter Cronkite hailed him for first reporting JFK's death from Parkland Hospital when in fact Robert Pierpoint was the man on the scene. Cronkite was not destined to remain a Rather fan.
Cronkite, by Weisman's acerbic telling, is an arrogant blowhard "who still believes that the anchor chair should have been retired with him in 1981." According to Weisman, Cronkite piled on Rather during the “Memogate” scandal, which in Weisman's reading was a fairly minor error that sparked a gross overreaction.
Weisman spends lots of ink thumping journalistic deities who, in the words of Bill O'Reilly, “slimed” Rather.
Off to Alcatraz
Former “60 Minutes” boss Don Hewitt is scorned for calling Rather a “coward” for not resigning following his disputed report on President George W. Bush's military service.
Weisman also notes that as the “Memogate” storm began brewing, Andrew Heyward railed that any guilty parties would be “phoning in from Alcatraz.” This, writes Weisman, “from the president of the News Division who had approved the story prior to air.”
CBS chief Les Moonves is another target. “Memogate,” Weisman says, provided Moonves with a convenient excuse to do what he wanted to do anyway: go younger.' Rather was 73 at his departure and, according to Weisman, Moonves wanted more young, smiley faces on the air.
The author doesn't give Rather a free pass, though.
This, after all, is the fellow of “Kenneth, what is the frequency?” fame who was also known for antic on-air observations such as, “This race is as hot and tight as a too- small bathing suit on a too-long ride home from the beach.”
No wonder radio wiseguy Don Imus once said, “I want to be watching when he cracks.”
Disappearing Act
Rather also stoked his own legend by vanishing for almost six minutes during the start of his Sept. 11, 1987, newscast. Weisman wonders if he “left the set to make a point to his superiors”—that he was upset with the diminishing stature of the news division.
Even Rather's critics may sympathize with poor Dan, who was increasingly enveloped by a rising tide of fluff. That trend included the indignity of being paired as co-anchor with Connie Chung, who was better known for celebrity interviews than news gathering.
That relationship is wonderfully reflected in a Rather quip quoted by Weisman: “did on several occasions encourage her, not in a patronizing way, that to be really connected to the news you have to read more.”
Weisman's final chapter, titled “Edward R. Murrow is Dead,” is a whack at an era in which blow-dried news personalities report from their teleprompters. Former foreign correspondent Bert Quint notes that “there's no reason to believe that the person telling you the foreign story has been within 3,000 miles of where the story happened.”
Next up as CBS News anchor is Katie Couric. Former congressional correspondent Phil Jones tells Weisman that Couric is “a liberal Democrat who is so in love with Hillary Clinton” that it could pose a problem if Clint
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780471792178
  • Publisher: Turner Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 8/18/2006
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 1,038,916
  • Product dimensions: 9.28 (w) x 6.12 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

ALAN WEISMAN recently retired from CBS News after working as a writer and producer at the network for more than twenty-five years on news shows including 60 Minutes, CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood, the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite, and the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather. He has also worked for Charlie Rose and for Time Life. Weisman has been interviewed on NPR's All Things Considered and other national media.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments.

Prologue.

1 Thanks for the Memories.

2 Never Stay Down and Never Quit.

3 From Big D to D.C. to the VC.

4 Nixon and Gunga Dan.

5 Life without Walter.

6 Seduced and Abandoned.

7 What Is the Frequency?

8 Live Fire.

9 Surviving.

10 Blinded by the Light.

11 Edward R. Murrow Is Dead.

Epilogue: Picking Up the Pieces.

Notes.

Bibliography.

Credits.

Index.

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