09/15 08:21 PM
The reactions of affiliate stations of CBS's refusal to back down from their increasingly discredited Bush National Guard story range from patient to angry.
Ken Charles, the program director of KPRC radio in Houston, told the Kerry Spot Wednesday evening that he has notified CBS Radio news that he will be switching to Fox News feed for their Friday evening news, instead of using the Dan Rather-anchored CBS feed.
"Dan has been doing the Friday 4 P.M. slot for about three or four years, and this is the first time Dan Rather has been the story," Charles said. "I have a problem with my news people being the story."
Charles said that his station is under contract with CBS, and that the move is unlikely to have a financial impact for CBS. The public-relations damage, however, could be significant.
"We're the number-seven market in the nation, and I would hope it would send a message to them about how serious this is," Charles said. "I announced at 5:10, and since then (about an hour and a half) we've gotten 150 e-mails from listeners, all supportive.
Charles said he had communicated his concerns to a CBS News official, who had told the concerned program director to wait until the network's Wednesday announcement. That announcement was expected at noon, and was delayed until after 5 P.M. EST. When the terse statement released by CBS News President Andrew Heyward did not address any of the question about the story, Charles made his decision.
Several CBS television affiliates haven't returned phone calls to the Kerry Spot yet, but others have shared e-mails from viewers who are complaining about Rather's now widely discredited report. Some affiliates aren't much happier than the viewers.
One affiliate-station official wrote, "this issue raises more questions about CBS' newsgathering ability than it does answers about President Bush.... On a local level, everything we do must be factually correct, fair and balanced. Unfortunately, we can't control the network news. The report should never have seen the light of day given their inability to justify that it's factually correct."
Another official at a different affiliate station wrote to a concerned viewer that his station is covering the matter locally, and talking to its own experts. He called the CBS report, "not acceptable at all."
A third West Coast affiliate is telling viewers: "CBS News is responsible for all content aired during their news programs. Feel free to call CBS in New York at 212-975-3247 between the hours of 7a-8:30a & 11a-12:30p Pacific time Monday-Friday."
Derek McGinty, who hosts a show on Washington's local CBS television affiliate, said on his program Wednesday night that he contacted CBS network headquarters in an attempt to line up an interview with Dan Rather. Rather and the network agreed, but "time for that interview simply ran out," McGinty said.