Former CBS News anchor Dan Rather has been in and out of the news (mostly out) since his departure from the network after his 2004 smear of former President George W. Bush’s military service blew up in his face.
But on Tuesday night he resurfaced at the Committee to Protect Journalists 21st Annual Press Freedom Awards gala in New York where he accepted an award named after the late CBS News producer and CPJ president Burton Benjamin.
Rather was introduced by First Amendment lawyer James Goodale who defended Rather’s 2004 report by saying that “All the facts in that particular program were substantially correct,” and that “Dan was correct.”
I’m not sure where Goodale got his information that Rather was correct in 2004. An independent report produced for CBS on the Bush / Texas Air National Guard reporting stated that it was seriously flawed and that it was largely due to a “myopic zeal to be the first news organization to broadcast what was believed to be a new story about President Bush’s TexANG service, and the rigid and blind defense of the segment after it aired despite numerous indications of its shortcomings.”
That doesn’t sound like Rather got the facts right, but instead that he was a key part of a concerted attempt to derail Bush’s re-election campaign.
Rather has been trying to rebuild his reputation ever since his ignominious downfall.
But instead of facing up to his past, Rather has chosen to attack his former employer as being part of corporate-owned media.
Rather told the audience that “we are living in an age when big money owns everything…including the news,” and that “cash bought a lot of silence for a long time. Enough time for unchecked power to get this country tangled into messes all around the world. We all know that money talks. But, so do the people…”
He then said that journalists can do something about this by bucking the system and for them to “Remember anew that you are a public servant and your business is protecting the public from harm. Even if those doing harm also pay your salary.”
Rather also commented on the Occupy Wall Street protests, telling the assembled journalists and guests that “we see our fellow citizens taking to the streets, some of them out of concern for the country. And that, my friends, is our cue to get back to work. As the people of our nation begin rising up, they expect the business of news to be about inquiry and accountability.”
But the Occupy movement isn’t interested in fair and balanced news. They just want to push their radical left-wing agenda on the American public under the guise of a grassroots citizen movement, which they are not.
And Rather knows it. But just like he did during most of his career at CBS, he is ignoring the facts to promote his own political agenda.