News & Politics

Rather says it’s Couric’s turn to “carry heavy water for CBS.”

Less than a week after his appearance on Larry King Live, Dan Rather once again finds himself the subject of debate during an appearance at Nathans Restaurant in Georgetown.

Photograph by Ellen Schreiber

It’s Katie Couric’s turn to “carry heavy water for CBS,” said Rather in response to Couric’s characterization of his now infamous report on President Bush’s National Guard service.

“There were things in there that were quite egregious in terms of how it was reported,” Couric was quoted as saying by the Washington Examiner. “And sloppy work is sloppy work. . . . They did not dot their i’s and cross their t’s when it came to that story. . . And our job is to get it right.”

Though Nathans owner Carol Joynt tried to get Rather to say more on Couric, the 75-year-old journalist didn’t take the bait and politely chose to move on.

Booked by Joynt to help launch the latest season of her weekly Q&A Cafe well before news of his $70-million lawsuit against CBS broke, Rather’s interview at the saloon nevertheless focused almost entirely on this issue.

And yet, while visibly emotional about the possibility of a trial, Rather revealed little new information about his suit against CBS. “Why now?” Joynt asked about the timing of the lawsuit. Rather responded that certain things and new information had recently come to his attention. What things and what information? Rather didn’t elaborate.

He was equally evasive when asked if he thought President Bush hated him. His thoughts on who the smartest president has been? Rather mentioned three names (Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson) but again no firm response. With a cautious and perhaps too diplomatic attitude, Rather chose to use the interview to once again make a call against the pressure put on independent journalism by big corporations. This, he claimed, is the fundamental principle behind his decision to take CBS and Viacom to court.

Response to Rather’s decision from the media has, for the most part, been less than kind, according to Joynt. When asked if he felt he was being treated unfairly by the press, Rather calmly responded: “I don’t have any complaints.”