Not surprising to readers who watched the “dishonest rise and notorious fall” of Dan Rather, the fraudulent journalist is now blasting Trump and supporting the establishment’s lying press.
By S.T. Patrick
When the mainstream media is attacked, it can always count on its own aging lions to protect the den. The barrels of former CBS news anchor Dan Rather’s ideological bully pulpit recently turned to President Donald Trump. In an interview with CNN’s Don Lemon, Rather said Trump’s attacks on the media were “straight out of Orwell.” Rather also referred to Trump as an “authoritarian” and someone who believes that “the one and only truth comes from him.”
Ironically, but not surprisingly, Rather has built a career on portraying himself as an authority on major events and someone who should be trusted to relay truth to the American public. The problem with Rather’s career is that those dubious goals were diametrically opposed to the plot points of his dishonest rise and notorious fall.
Rather’s rise at CBS can be attributed to having been in Dallas on the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. However, his bungling of details also coincides with the same event. Rather was among a handful of reporters to have seen the Zapruder film the day after the assassination.
The American public at large would not view the film until March 6, 1975, when Robert Groden showed the “Z-Film” on an episode of “Good Night America” with Geraldo Rivera.
Upon Rather’s viewing, he rushed to air with the shocking description of what he had seen—a presidential head that “went forward with considerable violence.” As it turns out, both Oliver Stone and the writers of “Seinfeld” were more accurate than Rather when they described Kennedy’s head obviously jolting “back and to the left.”
Rather also later reported that President Nixon was about to fire the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover and a top Vietnam official. These last two reports were later proven to be false. Rather was notorious for being one of the first storm-chasing reporters who would tie himself to a tree as a hurricane approached. Clutching the tree as if his life was in jeopardy, the moment of truth would inevitably come when a random elderly person would walk through the background, unaffected by the winds.
In 1980, Rather earned the critical nickname “Gunga Dan” from Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales for his over-dramatized walk across the Afghanistan border. Rather told America he was “risking his own safety.” The accompanying interpreter seemed wholly unaffected.
The fall of Rather occurred when he, once again, jumped the gun on news—and truth—by reporting false information about George W. Bush’s Air National Guard Service in Texas. This was the end for an overdramatic news anchor who always fancied himself as “hard news.” Today,
Rather still brandishes a reporter’s notebook that can be used at any moment if his AXS-TV interviewees—such as Kid Rock or Crystal Gayle—need to share any information on deep background.
Rather had mastered fake news before “Fake News” was a hip criticism. And while he was a maestro, he was not a solo act. In 1993, NBC had to settle a defamation suit with General Motors when its cornerstone “Dateline NBC” program rigged a fiery crash. After the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing, NBC massacred alleged bomber Richard Jewell in a trial-by-media outbreak that was nothing short of omnipresent—and false. Rather’s CBS News broadcasts followed NBC’s lead. Despite doubts, all three networks (and all of the cable outlets) aired false reports on the death of Pat Tillman and the faux-heroic story of Army private Jessica Lynch in Iraq.
New journalists at old media encampments are told by the Rathers of the world that the mainstream media is reliable, and social media giants like Facebook are told that these same media organizations should be the arbiters of fact.
A December Washington Post headline may tell the sad truth of media believability. The headline read “Polls Show Americans Distrust the Media. But Talk to Them, and It’s a Very Different Story.” When you ask an individual American about their trust in the mainstream media, they will most likely describe their negative view of the MSM. But like similar polls about trusting politicians, they will blast the national media while exhibiting faith in their local media or their favorite mainstream national media outlet. And while distrusting media is a commonplace opinion, media sources are still regularly cited when one person wants to prove the veracity of an event to another person.
“I just saw it on the news!” still holds considerable weight in a personal debate. One of the largest hurdles still faced by the consuming public is the idea of partisanship in news. Much of the public distrust in national news outlets has to do with a perceived partisan bias held by the media outlet. A Fox News diehard has serious reservations about CNN, MSNBC, and The Washington Post. A nightly CBS News viewer distrusts Fox News, National Review, and The Weekly Standard. In holding either view, the consumer fails to understand that on large, overarching issues, all major media in America functions on one accord. They are pro-war; they favor the financial and media elite; they unflinchingly trust government spokesmen, retired military officers, and establishment historians; and they always favor Big Pharma, Big Agriculture, Big Education, Big Finance, and the biggest lies in the history profession. On these issues, Fox News and MSNBC agree. Therefore, how can one be trusted and the other be reviled?
To find a news outlet that challenges the state-sponsored media dictates that are shared by all mainstream outlets, a consumer has to look toward the alternative media. The mainstream media is in a death spiral, accelerated by their own refusal to report critically on the most difficult stories, trends, and ideas of our time. A viewer’s or a reader’s time and money are the only vote they have regarding their media.
Real change requires an absolute change in lifestyle. To affect the reliability and the availability in trustworthy media, it is imperative that consumers support those alternative media outlets they find valuable. Like any failed idea, collapsing company, or crumbling empire, the mainstream’s frustrated loyalists (e.g., Rather) will sound their horns until the last noise is made. And if there is to be a true change in the American media, the final blow of the trumpet will permeate an empty forest and, thus, will not make a sound.
S.T. Patrick holds degrees in both journalism and social studies education. He spent 10 years as an educator and now hosts the “Midnight Writer News Show.” His email is [email protected].