Review: Rather Outspoken
Dan Rather worked for CBS News for 44 years and was the anchor of the CBS Evening News for 24 of them. When he, and those he worked with, decided to run a story on President George W. Bush’s military service (or lack thereof, as he claims) on 60 Minutes II, it cost him his job and he found himself having to reinvent himself.
Since I enjoy memoirs, I thought Rather Outspoken, by Dan Rather, would be a good fit for me, and I was partly right. The book started out rough for me and I even wondered if I’d be able to finish it, but once I got past the first two chapters, I found that I enjoyed it. The end of the book was a little difficult to get through as well.
In the first two chapters, Rather goes over his team’s reporting of Abu Ghraib and President Bush’s service in the Texas Air National Guard in meticulous detail. He gives so many details and mentions so many people that it was hard to keep it all straight. It’s obvious that he’s passionate about the reports they aired on those subjects but it also felt like he had an axe to grind at times.
After the first two chapters, Rather tells of his childhood, his college years, and his start in the news business – that’s when the book became what I had been expecting. Rather was born in Texas to a pipeliner father and a waitress mother. Times were tough but they were lucky enough to always have an income. His parents had a great respect for the news – reading the paper from cover to cover and then discussing its contents. Their respect of reporters made Rather want to be one.
Rather worked hard to be able to go to school and worked even harder to have the career he had. I enjoyed reading about the beginnings of television news and Rather’s journey in it. After years of putting the news first, he found himself without a job and had to decide where to go from there.
I felt the end of the book was somewhat introspective and maybe even a little preachy. It got a little long for me, but one passage did stand out:
I believe that the free press is essential to the balance of powers in our government. Our system of government was born of a love of freedom and a fear of power concentrated in the hands of one, such as a king, or a few, such as an aristocracy.
I agree with him that a free press is essential to our freedom but also felt he had a personal agenda in much of the book. Overall, this was an okay book for me but news junkies will want to read Rather Outspoken.