Silver lining for Dan Rather
Only a few weeks after he limped away from the CBS anchor chair, some good news for Dan Rather.
Rather and his producer, Mary Mapes, on Thursday won a prestigious George Foster Peabody award for their report on the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal.
The story ran last April and was celebrated as a coup for Rather and CBS News. The septuagenarian Rather had a spring in his step for months after the big scoop.
But the Rather-Mapes team ran into trouble later in the year with a questionable report on George W. Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard.
Mapes was fired over the National Guard story and Rather retired a year before his 25th anniversary as anchor of the CBS Evening News.
Horace Newcomb, director of the Peabody awards, says the Iraq prison story "stood on its own merits" and was an "important moment in television" in 2004.
Winning a Peabody, the top honour in broadcasting, may help take some of the sting out of the criticism flung at Rather on his retirement in March. His former colleagues, including the typically warm-and-fuzzy Walter Cronkite, couldn't think of many nice things to say.
Observer will be curious, then, to hear what is said about Rather and his legacy at the Peabody awards ceremony in May. The host? Morley Safer - the 60 Minutes correspondent and a longtime colleague of Rather's.
The Las Vegas construction boom continues, with developers turning their attention from high-concept hotels to high-rise luxury condos.
The notion strikes Observer as a bit strange - million-dollar condos in the land of kitsch?
"A few years ago, people would have laughed at you," says property mogul Steve Ross, head of Related Companies, developer of the Time Warner Center in Manhattan. Ross usually visits Las Vegas six times a year, though he still looks like a fish out of water in the desert city. This time he was in town to celebrate Icon Las Vegas, Related's planned 48-story condo project with views of the Vegas strip's neon glare.
Times are changing in the Nevada desert, and Ross - like others in his business - smells opportunity. "Things are happening faster here than in the rest of the country," he says.
Ground hasn't yet been broken for the project, but that didn't stop them throwing a lavish party on the site, complete with dancers in bikinis and tigers in glass cages.
Related probably wouldn't use tigers and bikini-clad girls to celebrate the opening of a condo back in New York. But in Sin City you need this kind of thing because it "establishes credibility", Ross says, seeming slightly bewildered by the spectacle.
After all, subtlety doesn't get you very far in Vegas, a city built on flash and fantasy.
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