In Sunday’s Washington Post, their dedication to truth collapsed in a heap in an interview touting the “evolution” of disgraced CBS anchor-faker Dan Rather. On the second page of the Arts & Style section, Post writer Geoff Edgers honored rather in an interview headlined “The evolution of an anchorman.”
Both bizarrely pretended Rather used to report the news “straight,” as if Rather wasn’t taunting Nixon like Jim Acosta back in the old days.
EDGERS: You spent a career as a newsman sitting at an anchor desk or out in the field reporting, and sometimes were criticized for being too liberal. But this is a different universe. How did you move toward having very strong and open opinions?
RATHER: First of all, I spent most of my career from the time I was in my early teens trying to be an honest broker of information — your classic straight reporter. Just the facts, ma’am. I don’t mean that in any preaching way, but that’s how I was trying to be seen. I would say somewhere around midcareer, in maybe my early 50s, I began to try to do something called analysis, which is take the facts and connect the dots, connect the facts, because we know as some wise person once said, “You can do all the facts and not know the truth.”
So I got into a situation where I said, “Okay, I’ll try to do what my mentors, Eric Sevareid and my idol Edward R. Murrow, try to do, in addition to true straight news reporting, is to do analysis.”
Rather’s lectures on facts and truth should come with a laugh track. At “midcareer,” Rather was wooed by all three networks and he signed a massive (for the time) $8 million contract. That makes it easier to offer your “analysis” and “dot-connecting.”
Edgers never raised the September 2004 debacle where Rather presented fraudulent Texas Air National Guard documents “proving” some form of draft dodging by President George W. Bush. The only subtle hint of it was Rather recalling he told himself “You’ve had a good run. You certainly made your mistakes. And you have your wounds, some of them self-inflicted.”
The Post, like everyone else, wants to honor Rather’s Trump-era social-media screeds against Donald Trump, and discuss how the media, er, “evolved” into open hostility against the departing president. But then it gets truly ridiculous: Edgers praised Brian Williams to Dan Rather!
EDGERS: I flip between Fox and MSNBC, and I’ll see on Fox scientific fact being disputed. And then I’ll turn to MSNBC host Brian Williams, who will report on Trump and then wink and say, “Back in the real world.” There’s part of me that likes that and part of me that doesn’t, because he’s a powerful figure. I think it opens him up to criticism from a huge group of people who will say, “You’re in the tank with the anti-Trump people.” Right?
RATHER: I agree with that. And I also share your ambivalence. On the one hand, I rather like it and respect it. The other part of me says there are going to be people who jump on you and call you all kinds of names and diminish your reputation. . . . It’s dangerous, but it is part of this new environment.
Sigh. This is Rather repeating Brian Stelter: you can call Republicans every kind of vicious name in an attempt to turn their reputations into dust, but for conservatives to call liberal journalists “biased” and “liberal” and “activist” is uniquely “dangerous.”