Jim Murphy, who produced the expanded 60 Minutes telecast Sunday night during which Dan Rather looked exasperated when Ed Bradley attempted to extend an interview with a guest after Rather began wrapping it up, has replied to reporters who criticized Rather.
Murphy, writing on the Poynter Institute's Web site, where the criticism first appeared, said that he had given Rather a cue through his earpiece to end the interview and had then signaled the stage manager to give Bradley a "cut" sign.
"Unfortunately, Ed did not see his cue," Murphy wrote, creating "an embarrassing moment for Dan, who felt he appeared to be trying to cut Ed off, which he would never do." Murphy took the blame for not having "tighter control of getting in and out of those things cleanly."
A number of reporters have remarked on what one called a "mini-meltdown" that Dan Rather appeared to experience on a special two-hour edition of 60 Minutes Sunday night after Ed Bradley insisted on putting an additional question to a guest just as Rather began to wrap up the interview.
In email messages to Jim Romenesko's MediaNews letters column on the Poynter Institute's Web site, the reporters suggested that Rather first looked exasperated, then downcast by Bradley's pushiness. One reporter remarked, "It's not everyday you see the 'reporter' (Mr. Bradley) tell the 'anchor' (Mr. Rather) to 'butt out.' But that's what I thought I saw." Another reporter added that Rather looked as if "his dog was just run over or [as] if Excedrin headache #12 was about to hit."
Dan Rather's tearful appearance on David Letterman's show Monday night has generated a host of critical letters on the Poynter Institute's MediaNews Web site, overseen by Jim Romenesko. Jim Evans, a staff writer for the Sacramento News & Review, particularly objected to Rather's response to Letterman's question about what motivated the attackers ("Well, because they're evil.") "It was shocking to hear someone who's been around as long as Rather give such a simplistic answer to a question so complex," Evans wrote.
Chris Frink of the Baton Rouge Advocate agreed, adding that "Dan truly floored me when he repeated an unsubstantiated rumor about members of another terrorist cell watching the New York attacks ... and rejoicing. ... Presenting it as a rumor does not make spreading a mere rumor correct." But Patrick Ogle of the Miami Herald asked to be spared "the bulls*** ... from a procession of yammering, long-winded 'experts.' ... It seems to me that 'They are evil' is as good an off-the-cuff, one-sentence response to the question 'Why?' as any."