RATHER CONTROVERSIAL

By Reed Irvine and Cliff Kincaid
August 10, 2001


      The double standard for liberals and conservatives is alive and well and embodied in a recent episode involving CBS News anchor Dan Rather. Rather was already at the center of a controversy for being the one news show that refused to acknowledge the ongoing investigation into the missing former intern Chandra Levy, and the increasing attention being focused on Congressman Gary Condit as the only real suspect in her disappearance.

      Rather was finally forced to report the story on July 18, but his report was inaccurate and inadequate. He said the FBI had handed the case over to its "cold case" squad, but the FBI is not in charge of the case. The "major case squad" of its Washington field office had been helping the Washington, DC police.

      The next morning, Rather appeared on the Don Imus radio talk show. This controversial show has become a favorite venue for many politicians and media stars. Imus, never one to shy away from controversy, asked Rather why he finally gave in and reported the story. Rather made it clear that he was ordered to do so. He said, "What happened was they [the CBS management] got the willies, they got the Buckwheats. Their knees wobbled and we gave it up."

      That was more than a bold criticism of his bosses. "Buckwheat" is one of those racially charged words with a controversial history. Buckwheat, for those who donít remember, was the Little Rascal character who was black, and when he got scared, which was most of the time, his eyes bugged out. Some interpret it as a racial slur. Ratherís statement has been condemned by both liberal and conservative blacks. This may be carrying political correctness too far, but the fact is that powerful journalists like Dan Rather can use politically incorrect statements to destroy conservatives who utter them. He should be held to the same standard.

      That point has been made very strongly by Newsmax.com, which looked at what has happened to others who have used this or other racially charged names, and the price theyíve had to pay. They concluded that if youíre a liberal you get away with it. If youíre a conservative, the press and many black leaders come after you as if youíve committed a felony. Mark McEwen, a colleague of Dan Ratherís at CBS, interviewed a singer named Garland Jeffries in 1991 when he came out with a new song called "Donít Call Me Buckwheat." Jeffries described the term as a "vicious ethnic slur." Newsmax cited a teacher who was merely accused of calling a student a Buckwheat, and was suspended.

      When conservatives cross the politically incorrect line, the liberals show them no mercy. Just ask Dick Armey or conservative radio talk show host Bob Grant. Jimmy "the Greek" Snyder lost his job on CBS for commenting off the record that blacks are better runners and jumpers than whites because of physical racial differences. Dan Rather aired the quote and Snyder was fired. NewsMax doesnít accuse Rather of being racist, but it makes the point that he and other liberals get away with indiscreet remarks because the liberals dominate the media, and they let their fellow liberals get away with almost anything.


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