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Rather Draws Line from Being Called "N-Lover" to a "Liberal" --3/10/2005


1. Rather Draws Line from Being Called "N-Lover" to a "Liberal"
In his Wednesday night prime time special reviewing his career, Dan Rather: A Reporter Remembers, Rather, dismissing bias charges as a just the latest in a series of efforts to "intimidate" him, drew a line from being called "an 'N-lover'" during the civil rights movement to the Vietnam war years when critics tagged him with a "bad name: 'anti-military, anti-American, anti-war,'" and "then, when Watergate came into being was the first time I began to hear this word 'liberal' as an epithet thrown my way." Viewers then saw a montage of video clips and shots of Web sites with text accusing Rather and CBS of being "liberal," including the Media Research Center's logo and a headline over an MRC page on Rather. Without addressing evidence of his liberal tilt on policy, Rather charged that "people who have very strong biases of their own, they come at you with a story: 'If you won't report it the way I want it reported, then you're biased.'" On the memogate affair, the CBS special touted how the review panel found "no political agenda."

2. Dan Rather's Last Word as CBS Evening News Anchor: "Courage"
Dan Rather signed-off forever at the end of the March 9 CBS Evening News by resurrecting a term he used to close his newscast in the mid-1980s, "courage."

3. Praise Heaped on Rather, "Sad" Conservatives Exploited Memogate
Marking Dan Rather's departure from the CBS Evening News, on Wednesday some reporters and reviewers delivered rather sycophantic praise. "The fact is, for my money," Early Show quad-host Harry Smith effused, "he's the best television reporter who's ever lived." ABC's Peter Jennings cautioned that "I think you measure a man by his whole career and not by one incident" and ABC's Charlie Gibson asserted: "His critics have tried to make it about him, but he's always made it about the work and his work has been distinguished over 24 years." On CNN, Bruce Morton rejected the idea that Rather displayed liberal bias: "I think what Dan always wanted most was a good story." Nationally-syndicated Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales fretted about how "sad" it was that "ultra-conservatives" benefitted from memogate: "One of the sad things about it is that it gave the right wing, which has had its sights on Rather for years now, something to cheer and dance in the streets about."


Rather Draws Line from Being Called "N-Lover"
to a "Liberal"

MRC displayed on CBS In his Wednesday night prime time special reviewing his career, Dan Rather: A Reporter Remembers, Rather, dismissing bias charges as a just the latest in a series of efforts to "intimidate" him, drew a line from being called "an 'N-lover'" during the civil rights movement to the Vietnam war years when critics tagged him with a "bad name: 'anti-military, anti-American, anti-war,'" and "then, when Watergate came into being was the first time I began to hear this word 'liberal' as an epithet thrown my way." Viewers then saw a montage of video clips and shots of Web sites with text accusing Rather and CBS of being "liberal," including the Media Research Center's logo and a headline over an MRC page on Rather. Without addressing evidence of his liberal tilt on policy, Rather charged that "people who have very strong biases of their own, they come at you with a story: 'If you won't report it the way I want it reported, then you're biased.'" On the memogate affair, the CBS special touted how the review panel found "no political agenda."

Earlier in the 8pm EST/PST hour, Rather described Iran-Contra as nothing more that "another case of people wanting to keep secret things that citizens had a right to know." Without any mention of the effort to bring freedom, Rather outlined the scheme as one to "get the money from these 'death-to-America' mullahs for the weapons, and then use the money for a secret war they were trying to run in Central America."

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video of what aired and below are two excerpts from the March 9 CBS special matching the sequence in which they aired:

-- Dan Rather: "Iran-Contra was another case of people wanting to keep secret things that citizens had a right to know."
Ronald Reagan in undated video: "America will never make concessions to terrorists."
Rather: "The question was whether the top echelons of the United States government had sent some of our very best advanced weapons to the mullahs in Iran, the same people in Iran who'd taken our fellow citizens hostage, who were committed to our destruction. Get the money from these 'death-to-America' mullahs for the weapons, and then use the money for a secret war they were trying to run in Central America. That's a story. That's something people deserve to know about."
George H.W. Bush at campaign event: "I am proud to have been Vice President, and now I want to be your President."
Rather: "The then-Vice President had some knowledge of getting some of our most technologically advanced missiles to the Iranians."
Bush, on the CBS Evening News: "I thought I was here to talk about my views on education or on getting this deficit down."
Rather: "It disintegrated into, not a good situation."
Rather, to Bush in the infamous 1988 interview: "You said that if you had known this was an arms-for-hostages swap-"
Bush: "Yes."
Rather: "-that you would have opposed it. You also said that-"
Bush: "Exactly."
Rather: "-that you did not know that you-"
Bush: "May I answer that?"
Rather: "That wasn't a question. It was a statement."
Bush: "Yes, it was a statement, and I'll answer it."
Rather: "Let me ask the question."
Rather, back in the present: "I can be faulted for maybe I pressed too hard. Maybe I didn't press in the right way."
Rather, in the 1988 interview: "Iran was officially a terrorist state. You went around telling-"
Bush: "I've already explained that, Dan. I wanted those hostages, I wanted Mr. Buckley out of there before he was killed."
Rather: "But Mr. Vice President, the question is, but you made us hypocrites in the face of the world!"
Sir Howard Stringer, CEO of Sony Corporation of America, and former Executive Producer of the CBS Evening News, in present day footage: "It was an important issue which Dan Rather pursued characteristically-"
Another Stringer soundbite: "I was news president then. Did I think it was disrespectful? Obviously you don't want to be disrespectful."
Bush, the day after the interview: "I need combat pay for last night, I'll tell you."
Rather, on the CBS Evening News the night after the confrontation: "About last night's interview with George Bush, trying to ask honest questions and trying to be persistent about answers is part of a reporter's job."
Stringer at the time: "The tension between administrations and reporters should be acute. It's in the nature of journalism."


Sign on telephone pole: -- With a picture on screen of a sign on a telephone pole which proclaimed, "Up Yours Dan Rather," Rather denigrated charges of bias as he held himself up as a martyr for the truth:
"One way a reporter in this country should be judged is how well he or she stands up to the pressure to intimidate. I remember the first time someone accused me of being an 'N-lover.' [video of Rather in the middle of a crowd of black people and video of civil right protests] There was a lot of that during the '60s when I covered the civil rights movement. Then you move forward from civil rights into the Vietnam War."
Rather, in video from Vietnam: "How can so many die in a war that's supposed to be so small?"
CBS Rather, back in present day: "'We're going to hang a sign around you which calls you some bad name: 'Anti-military, anti-American, anti-war.' Then, when Watergate came into being-"
Rather, old footage with White House in background: "How high up in the White House does it go?"
Rather, picking up rest of remark: "-was the first time I began to hear this word 'liberal' as an epithet thrown my way."

Viewers then saw a montage of video clips and shots of Web sites with text accusing Rather and CBS of being "liberal," including shot of the Media Research Center's logo and an MRCs page on Dan Rather:
Pat Buchanan: "He is the quintessence to millions of Americans of liberal bias on the network news."
Unidentified man's voice: "He's the personification of liberal media bias."
Joseph Scarborough clip #1: "Bias."
Scarborough clip #2: "Bias."
Scarborough clip #3: "-bias and CBS and Dan Rather-"

Rather claimed: "People who have very strong biases of their own, they come at you with a story: 'If you won't report it the way I want it reported, then you're biased.' Now, it is true about me, for better or for worse, if you want to see my neck swell, you just try to tell me where to line up or what to think and mostly what to report."
Rather, from old footage with Lyndon Johnson in the Oval Office: "Some of these dissenters, Mr. President, say that the only way they can get your attention is to do something unlawful."
Rather, in the present: "Pull no punches, play no favorites."
Rather, to Colin Powell: "And to those who said, 'Well, there's no smoking gun,' would you argue with that?"
Colin Powell: "What do you mean by smoking gun? How about lots of smoke?"
Rather, narrating again: "You know, one can have too much zeal. One can have too much passion. And sometimes I have. Too much passion, melded to loving the work, lead to making mistakes."
Rather, on the CBS Evening News in September: "The documents purported to show that George W. Bush received preferential treatment during his years in the Texas Air National Guard. Tonight, after further investigation, we can no longer vouch for their authenticity. CBS News President Andrew Heyward has ordered an independent investigation."
Reporter on sidewalk in front of CBS News: "The panel said today, and I'm quoting, 'There was a myopic zeal to be first on the story.'"
Rather, in the present: "We should have been more rigorous in establishing the validity of the documents."
CBS reporter Wyatt Andrews in a CBS Evening News story: "The panel found no political agenda."
Richard Thornburgh: "We didn't find any actual bias."
Rather, narrating: "First and foremost is that four people lost their jobs over it. And I don't have them, I never have them far from my mind."
Rather on the CBS Evening News: "And I also want to say personally and directly, I'm sorry."
Rather, in the present, wrapped up the segment: "I regret every nanosecond when I let anybody at CBS News down, and even more when I let the audience down. It's painful to me."

Dan Rather's Last Word as CBS Evening
News Anchor: "Courage"

Dan Rather signed-off forever at the end of the March 9 CBS Evening News by resurrecting a term he used in to end his newscast in the mid-1980s, "courage."

CBS's Dan Rather saying goodbye Rather closed: "We've shared a lot in the 24 years we've been meeting here each evening. And before I say good night this night, I need to say thank you. Thank you to the thousands of wonderful professionals of CBS News, past and present, with whom it's been my honor to work over these years. And a deeply felt thanks to all of you who have let us into your homes night after night. It has been a privilege and one never taken lightly.
"Not long after I first came to the anchor chair, I briefly signed off using the word 'courage.' I want to return to it now, in a different way, to a nation still nursing a broken heart for what happened here in 2001, and especially to those who found themselves closest to the events of September 11th. To our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in dangerous places. To those who have endured the tsunami, and to all who have suffered natural disasters and who must now find the will to rebuild. To the oppressed and to those whose lot it is to struggle in financial hardship or in failing health. To my fellow journalists in places where reporting the truth means risking all. And to each of you, courage. For the CBS Evening News, Dan Rather reporting. Good night."

Following the WalMart sponsorship plug, viewers saw a crowd of CBS staffers clapping in the "fishbowl" around Rather.

Praise Heaped on Rather, "Sad" Conservatives
Exploited Memogate

CBS's Harry Smith Marking Dan Rather's departure from the CBS Evening News, on Wednesday some reporters and reviewers delivered rather sycophantic praise. "The fact is, for my money," Early Show quad- host Harry Smith effused, "he's the best television reporter who's ever lived." ABC's Peter Jennings cautioned that "I think you measure a man by his whole career and not by one incident" and ABC's Charlie Gibson asserted: "His critics have tried to make it about him, but he's always made it about the work and his work has been distinguished over 24 years." On CNN, Bruce Morton rejected the idea that Rather displayed liberal bias: "I think what Dan always wanted most was a good story." Nationally syndicated Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales fretted about how "sad" it was that "ultra-conservatives" benefitted from memogate: "One of the sad things about it is that it gave the right wing, which has had its sights on Rather for years now, something to cheer and dance in the streets about."

-- CBS's Early Show, March 9. The MRC's Brian Boyd caught this from Harry Smith at about 8:50am EST: "I would just say this very briefly, anybody who's done what he's done as long as he has been doing it, is going to take some fire along the way and certainly he's done that in the last year, or so. But the fact is, for my money, he's the best television reporter who's ever lived."

-- ABC's Good Morning America, March 9. The MRC's Jessica Barnes picked up these assessments from a tribute to Dan Rather at the end of the 7am half hour:

Peter Jennings: "I think Dan's identity is really that of reporter. I think he wanted to do the Evening News very badly and took it as a huge responsibility and had huge influence at CBS News....Dan's had a long career and I think will continue in his career, and I think you measure a man by his whole career and not by one incident...."
Diane Sawyer: "I worked with him, of course, for so many years. I can't tell you how many times he would call me to check to make sure what I was saying on the air was exactly right and how many times he was out ahead of all of us, never behind the anchor desk, but out there without fear."
Charles Gibson: "His critics have tried to make it about him, but he's always made it about the work and his work has been distinguished over 24 years. We wish him very well."
Sawyer: "A salute to you, Dan."

-- CNN's Inside Politics, March 9. The MRC's Ken Shepherd caught how after Bruce Morton provided a look at Rather's career, Judy Woodruff asked him: "Bruce Morton, the rap on Dan Rather is that he's biased. What do you think? You worked with man the man for many years?"

Morton rejected the notion and held up FNC's Brit Hume as proof you can separate personal views from your reporting: "I think what Dan always wanted most was a good story. You know, I don't know what his innermost political thoughts are, but most of us have opinions one way or another but when we're writing and we're talking, we're on the air, we try to go down the middle. I knew Brit Hume, and now of Fox, when he was at ABC, I knew he was a conservative, because we played tennis together. But watching him on the air, boy, I never could have told. And I think most of us want to get it right."

-- "Dan Rather, Leaving By the High Road," a fawning March 9 tribute to Rather by Tom Shales in the Washington Post's Style section. A brief except in which Shales regrets how the right was proven correct on memogate followed by Dan Rather, matching what he said on CBS's special as recounted in item #1 above, claiming to be "independent" and dismissing charges of bias as just the result of his refusal to skew the news the way his critics wish:

....One of the sad things about it is that it gave the right wing, which has had its sights on Rather for years now, something to cheer and dance in the streets about. Over the years, ultra-conservatives have made Rather their public enemy No. 1. They deluged him with hate mail, founded a Web site called Ratherbiased.com and were the prime suspects when a computer was used to jam his phone lines. He says he doesn't know how he became such a lightning rod for controversy.

"What I do know is that it's not something I worry about," he says. "I've never worried about it. I am independent as a reporter -- determinedly independent and, when I think it's necessary and advisable, I'm fiercely independent. And I think the determination to stay independent is part of what's made me what you call a 'lightning rod.'

"There's always somebody of some political persuasion or some ideological belief and/or partisan political agenda who takes the attitude, 'If you don't report the way I want you to report, if you're not going to reflect my biases, then I'm going to try to hurt you, ruin you if I can, by hanging some negative label on you and calling you names like 'biased.' And at that point, you're in the classic fight-or-flight situation. Now I'm guilty of a lot of things, and I've made a lot of mistakes -- but I haven't made that mistake -- of running, backing away. I haven't done that, I'm not doing it and I'm not going to do it."...

END of Excerpt

For the Shales tribute in full, which he concluded, "Arise, Dan Rather, to gain thy dreams....," go to: www.washingtonpost.com


# Look for an op-ed about Dan Rather's career, by the MRC's Rich Noyes, in today's (Thursday) Washington Times and Orange County Register.

-- Brent Baker