Maybe he’s getting mellower as he gets older. Nevertheless, former CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather surprised conservatives and liberals alike when he defended Fox News against charges that it is part of the Republican Party.
Rather was asked about the Fox-GOP connection in an interview with Larry King:
KING: Do you think the thought that Fox News Channel is an actual part of the Republican Party?
RATHER: No….. I understand that argument. I think it goes too far, which is to say, I think Ailes is, considers himself still a part of the Republican Party. I think insofar as he is able to, that he wants his channel to be that way. But I don’t want to indict everybody at Fox News Channel. Because I know some of the pros there who are pretty good. I don’t want to dance around your question, but I do think that Roger Ailes, I would say this about him. He is a very good businessman. He’s very smart about television. And he built a network, when I for one was not all sure he could do so. And has he used it to benefit the Republican Party? Yes, the record is very clear on that. But is it a sole, operative and propaganda machine for the party? I’d have to stop short of that.
This accusation first came up in 2009 when White House Communications Director, Anita Dunn, was withering from the constant stream of negative stories on President Obama. She told CNN that Fox News “often operates as the research arm of the Republican Party,” a charge that has been recently revived with Gabe Sherman’s new book about Fox CEO Roger Ailes.
But Fox has consistently been one of, if not the most balanced cable news networks, hiring a bevy of liberals over the years, while second place MSNBC has just a few token Republicans, and is constantly doing the bidding of the Democratic National Committee.