cover image Lone Star: The Extraordinary Life and Times of Dan Rather

Lone Star: The Extraordinary Life and Times of Dan Rather

Alan Weisman. John Wiley & Sons, $25.95 (254pp) ISBN 978-0-471-79217-8

Drawing on some eighty interviews, Weisman, a former CBS newsman himself, presents an insider view of how Rather evolved into one of the most polarizing figures in American news media. Many different personalities emerge along the way (hard-working reporter becomes lazy anchor; loyal and hospitable gives way to vindictive and paranoid), but one trait runs consistent throughout: the Texas native's ""penchant for going with his gut."" From his frontline reports in Vietnam to his famously direct questioning of Richard Nixon, Rather's instincts delivered him the most prestigious post in television news, and an unprecedented salary to go with it. Those same instincts, unfortunately, also led to his inexcusable walk-out during a telecast from Miami, his embarrassingly combative 1988 interview with Bush I, and, ultimately, his career-killing involvement with a 60 Minutes segment about Bush II's alleged transgressions as a National Guardsman. Weisman never doubts his subject's commitment to CBS, but again and again his work demonstrates how Rather's personal affect, ambition and, yes, salary, steered the network's once-vaunted news division in the wrong direction. This clear-eyed biography should satisfy anyone interested in the legacy of TV news.