This is to add perspective to your “25 Years of Insight” column describing “Laurence Tisch’s wholesale budget cuts” at CBS News (“Glancing Back Over 25 Years,” TelevisionWeek, April 23).
Unfairly, Larry keeps getting blamed for economies at CBS News that were no different than similar cutbacks at NBC under Jack Welch and Bob Wright and at ABC under Tom Murphy and Dan Burke.
Importantly, Larry’s No. 2 was the former president of CBS News, the ever-popular Howard Stringer. It seems obvious that “the rank-and-file of CBS News, led by Dan Rather,” targeted Larry, the plain-spoken, efficiency-minded businessman, rather than Howard, their charming former colleague who was Larry’s full partner in CBS News’ restructuring.
If there was any “villain,” the three-network monopoly had been broken—in audience and economics—by many cable/satellite competitors, including several full-time news/informational networks. The “glory and free-spending days” of CBS News—and NBC and ABC — had simply passed, as Howard’s close friend Ken Auletta thoroughly documented in his book “Three Blind Mice.”
If I ever finish writing my book, it will include a ringing defense of Larry—not for his minimal social grace, but for his profound realism that kept CBS vital and independent at the time.
Edward Bleier, New York, N.Y.