Memo from David Rhodes questions morning news judgment after failing to showcase CBS News’ own reporting
CBS News president David Rhodes tore into the “Early Show” in an email on Monday after the morning show failed to showcase the network’s original newsgathering work from the weekend — including the “60 Minutes” exposé on author Greg Mortenson.
“CBS News had a great weekend,” Rhodes’ memo to staffers — sent 15 minutes after the show ended — began. “And a bad Monday morning.”
After running down each missed story (Paul Allen’s “60 Minutes” comments on Bill Gates, Rep. Paul Ryan on “Face the Nation” et al) Rhodes criticized producers of the third-place morning show for letting the scoops slip. “We did exactly what our competitors did today,” he wrote. “Weather roundup, check. Air traffic control, check.”
Rhodes’ rage comes less than four months after the “Early Show” anchors were replaced, and three months after being installed as president of the news division.
Here’s Rhodes’ memo is in full (via TVNewser):
From: Rhodes, David
Sent: Monday, April 18, 2011 9:15 AM
To: @CND The Early Show
Cc: Owens, Bill; Zirinsky, Susan; Morrison, Rand L.; Hager, Mary; Fager, Jeff; Ciprian-Matthews, Ingrid; Felling, Bill
CBS News had a great weekend. And a bad Monday morning.
Sunday we broke major news on Greg Mortenson, co-author of “Three Cups of Tea.” Turns out the uplifting bestseller may not be entirely true—and his charity’s finances are troubling.
Also on 60 Minutes: a revealing look at the problem of sex assault on campus told through one woman’s ordeal at the University of the Pacific, and Paul Allen’s true feelings about Bill Gates as discussed in a sit-down supporting his new memoir.
On cable at least one network is leading with Rep. Paul Ryan’s comments on Face—but we didn’t run them at all today.
And Saturday night we heard the planned defense of Casey Anthony. Her explosive case goes to trial in May.
Where are these stories this morning? Not on the Early Show. Why not?
This really isn’t a case of not knowing what the organization is doing. We held a meeting Friday discussing what each program had planned—in which every single one of these stories was discussed. And of course each of these stories ran on our most popular programs. All rated highly, so an audience clearly found them. Some have generated follow-up coverage in other media.
Not our own show, though. We did exactly what our competitors did today. Weather roundup, check. Air traffic control, check. Holly Bobo—check, at precisely the moment everyone else covered Holly Bobo. Why not our reporting on Casey Anthony when others did Holly Bobo? Why not the Mortenson bombshell in the open?
Many of you on the Early Show have asked for clarity on what we want. Several times we have talked about sustained coverage of stories which are our own—I mentioned this several times the week after our story on Orlando’s motel homeless. Let’s get with it. Where’s our reporting? Make sure it’s in our show.