Home > Shame!
We inaugurate our Hall of Shame with Dan Rather, anchor of the CBS Evening News as well as its chief editor. Mr Rather also appears from time to time on 60 Minutes II, the weekday version of the groundbreaking newsmagazine. Mr. Rather is responsible for the accuracy and integrity of the news that appears on his network news show. One ought to expect that the news would be reported neutrally; a relaying of facts. Unlike Conservativity, which is comprised of opinion analyses of the facts, the news is supposed to supply those facts.
To call Mr. Ratherís coverage over the years "left leaning" is an understatement of gigantic proportions. The final nail in the coffin of Mr. Ratherís long-ailing integrity was supplied by the laughably-phony documents purporting to show that George W. Bush disobeyed orders when in the National Guard. These documents, supplied by a venomous anti-Bush Texan named Bill Burkett, were obviously written in 2004 on a Microsoft Word program, not on the manual typewriters common in the National Guard in 1972.
Instead of simply apologizing for the error, Rather stood by the discredited story and the forged documents for an agonizing two weeks. Everyone in the country that had a semblance of reason in his or her mind realized the forgery. There were even eBay auctions that offered IBM Selectric Typewriters with tag lines like "Perfect for Forgery!" As Rather dug in his heels, and CBS publicly backed him in misguided obeisance, Ratherís news program lost all credibility with all but the ultra-extreme leftists who see an evil Bush conspiracy in everything from the weather to the menus at fast-food restaurants.
Rather generated a backlash against CBS -- Anyone wondering why ABC is suddenly the top-rated network? While Desperate Housewives and Boston Legal are amazingly fun to watch, could CBS be getting the cold shoulder? Their news department came in last in debate-coverage ratings. It is a perennial also-ran in the nightly ratings. A far cry from when the anchor of CBS News was the most trusted person in the country.
A conservative is tempted to laugh loudly and say that this downfall is well-deserved. However, there is no small tragedy here. What kind of internal melancholy drives a man who is by any objective standard a legend in the news community to eat up an obvious fake document and run with it? What kind of bitterness about the mood of the country drives a person to do what is nearly impossible under the law -- libel a sitting President of the United States? And yes, it is libel. The "actual malice" standard is reporting a false story with actual knowledge of its falsity or with reckless disregard for its truth or lack thereof. That is the standard here. Thank God that President Bush is a forgiving Christian and not a litigious man, for if he were to prosecute a libel case, he would, in my opinion, prevail.
This is a sad chapter in American life. We have obvious propaganda from extreme elite leftists being offered as fact (Farenheit 9/11). We have one candidate who has, to quote from the marvelous www.jibjab.com parody, "more waffles than a house of pancakes," only to have a subservient press treat him as a maligned superstatesman. That same press tries valiantly at every turn to get our President to say things that would only be useful as sound bites for his opponent, eg. "What mistakes did you make as President?" Our President is a Harvard MBA, but is treated as a dropout from clown school by a press that actively looks to discredit the man.
The vast majority of the press has turned into a far-left propaganda machine. Infuriated by the skyrocketing success of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Fox News and others, they involve their entire corporate organizations in a desperate push to obtain power. Example: CBSí sister channel, Nickelodeon, had a "poll" to let kids choose their president, and Mr. Kerry won, 57%-43%. What was left unsaid is the nature of the surrounding publicity, including the efforts of leftist teachers in classrooms throughout the USA, to influence the politics of our children in their classrooms. Thank God that we still have the opportunity to educate our children at home. As my 8-year-old son says, "I like George Bush because he goes after the bad guys!"
Dan Rather is simply the most egregious example of the extreme left-wing tilt in the vast majority of news coverage. While he and his staffers are certainly entitled to their opinions, his taks is to serve a necessary public good by reporting the news. This does not mean that he should report the news he knows will benefit his political agenda and ignore the other, nor does it mean that she should make up "news" to help his life-philosophy along. As Rush says, a news reporter is supposed to be a neutral bystander that relates what happened, without spin or commentary.
If Dan Rather did that and expounded his views in a nightly 5-minute editorial, then I would be silent. He could espouse his views on the air but people know whatís news and whatís opinion. But that, sadly, did not happen.
Mr. Rather, the time is overdue for your to step down. Mel Karmazin, the time is now for a complete reconstruction of CBS News. Make it fair and balanced, to inadvertantly purloin the slogan of Fox News. Otherwise, CBS News will continue to be the laughingstock that it now is. What a far fall from the "Tiffany Network" to this.