Rather: ‘News is a Crude Art Form’

Former CBS News anchor Dan Rather was the guest this week’s of Reel Journalism’s Nick Clooney at the Newseum. There’s typically a screening and a high-profile guest. The featured film was “The Insider” starring Russell Crowe and Al Pacino.

Rather chatted with host Clooney, the  journalist in residence at AU and the Newseum, before the screening.

A quick refresher: The film is the true story of Jeffrey Wigand, a former tobacco executive who agreed to appear on CBS’s 60 Minutes to reveal malpractices in the tobacco industry.

So how did the film compare to reality? “News is not an exact science. News is a kind of crude art form,” Rather said, explaining why he thought the film did not necessarily portray how things really happened.  “No one does it perfectly and until you walk in the shoes of someone else, be reluctant to pass judgment or speculate what you would have done.”

Clooney asked Rather about the performance of the actor who played him.  The newsman said he didn’t recognize himself on screen: “In one scene, a producer says ‘Mr. Rather is complaining about his chair.’ Let the record show that I complained about a great number of things at CBS, but never my chair,” Rather joked.

American University’s School of Communication and the Newseum co-produce the film series. Many thanks to Maggie Barrett, AU’s Public Information Officer, for the contents of this post.