Picks and Pans Review: The Camera Never Blinks Twice
Behind an anchor desk, CBS's Dan Rather often seems like a fish out of water. But turn him loose among protesters in Tiananmen Square, refugees in Somalia or Third World heads of state and he swims effortlessly upstream toward a scoop. Last month, minutes after President Clinton announced he was sending troops to Haiti, there was Our Man in Port-au-Prince, coaxing instant analysis from Haitian strongman Raoul Cédras.
This sequel to his 1977 memoir, The Camera Never Blinks, chronicles Dan's excellent adventures during the past 14 years. Sneaking into Afghanistan in 1980, Rather showed true grit by taking his camera crew perilously close to a Soviet airfield. And one cannot help but admire Rather's cheek when, on the eve of the Gulf War, he asked Saddam Hussein how he felt being compared with Hitler. "Saddam," Rather reports, "did not like the question. (He wasn't supposed to.)"
Closer to home, however, Rather is less forthcoming. About his reportedly prickly teaming with Connie Chung, he says gallantly, "Connie is a grand partner." He is defensive about the furor caused by his "ambush interview" with George Bush in 1988, after Rather challenged the presidential candidate's professed noninvolvement in the Iran-contra scandal. A complete transcript of their encounter, which the author provides, shows him to be sputtering more incoherently than the angry Veep. "Not a great day for American journalism," Dan confesses. On such days, we suspect, he would rather be in Mogadishu. (Morrow, $23)