Fox Nation is launching the premiere of a new documentary on the birth of “fake news.”
The new documentary special entitled, “Black Eye: Dan Rather and the Birth of Fake News” is airing for the first time Friday on Fox Nation, Fox News Channel’s on-demand subscription-based streaming service.
The documentary offers an in-depth look at CBS News and anchor Dan Rather and the controversial decision in 2004 to go with a story on then-president George W. Bush involving claims made from unverified memos which alleged he had received special treatment during his time in the Texas Air National Guard.
CBS and Rather retracted the story and issued an apology two weeks after it aired amid backlash and criticism for using the unauthenticated memos, and after initially standing by the broadcast.
The new documentary, narrated by actor and writer Marc Menchaca, features interviews with prominent journalists, media pundits, Bush White House officials and others who were close to the story and chronicle the events as they happened.
“There had been so many rumors about George W. Bush, did he get preferential treatment in the Texas Guard? Had he gone AWOL at some point?” Fox News media analyst Howard Kurtz said in a preview clip. “Swirling around, nothing proven. So it must have been tempting for CBS to have an opportunity to be the news organization that would break that story about the president.”
Emily Will, a forensic document examiner hired by CBS, had her reservations.
“I told Mary [CBS News producer Mapes] that if you run this story on Wednesday, on Thursday morning you’re going to have every document examiner in the country jumping down your throat because they’re going to have a lot of questions about these documents,” Will said in a video clip preview.
The bloggers who questioned the documents are also included in the documentary and another preview clip featured Powerline’s Scott Johnson discussing how his report was linked to by the Drudge Report and quickly went viral.
“Put a title on it: ‘The 61st Minute’ suggesting that there might be something more to this story. Hit the publish button at 7:51 am and left for work,” Johnson recounted.
“Well around noon or one o’clock our time… the Drudge Report had put an upside down red siren on it, screaming ’60 Minutes fraud’ or something like that and if you clicked on it, it linked to Powerline,” he continued. “All of a sudden, as opposed to the five or six thousand readers a day that we had at the time, we had 500,000.”
“The bloggers, who were a new phenomenon in the media world at the time, really were the first ones to blow the whistle on the ’60 Minutes’ story and Dan Rather,” Kurtz related in the documentary preview clip.
“They are the ones who raised the questions that we needed to answer about those documents, were they real? Could they really have been typed in 1972 and 1973 or were they created later by some sort of Microsoft Word? ” he said. “They got down into the details about font size and spacing in a way that wouldn’t have been possible for ordinary journalists who wouldn’t have had that kind of knowledge.”
Rather, who began at CBS News as White House correspondent in 1964, has not yet made any comments about the documentary which will be available to download today. He commented on what “isn’t really real” on television in a tweet on Thursday.
It‘s like we’re living through a bad parody of reality television. But at least when that kind of stuff is on TV you know it isn’t really real and you can chose not to watch.
— Dan Rather (@DanRather) January 11, 2019
“It‘s like we’re living through a bad parody of reality television,” the 86-year old tweeted. “But at least when that kind of stuff is on TV you know it isn’t really real and you can chose not to watch.”