Even as he gets ready to leave the CBS Evening News on Wednesday, Dan Rather still insists that he's a brave journalistic truth-teller, not a partisan political operative disguised (poorly) as an objective newsman. "I'm hard to herd and impossible to stampede," he recently boasted to The New Yorker's Ken Auletta.
Some of the liberal media's professional apologists insist last year's fraudulent 60 Minutes hit piece should not be the yardstick used to measure Rather's professional worth. Former New York Times reporter Alex Jones, now a Harvard "media expert" told USA Today's Peter Johnson it would be a "gross disservice" to emphasize the shameful forgery fiasco. "It doesn't diminish his decades-long career of distinguished broadcast journalism," Jones asserted.
Actually, if there's one TV news star whose career was epitomized by twisting the news to assist liberals and knock conservatives, it's Dan Rather. Last September's politically motivated fraud wasn't a departure for Rather; it was just an extreme example of the obnoxious bias that's tarnished his whole career. MRC has an exhaustive library of Rather's liberal rantings posted on our Web site (www.mrc.org), including 15 video clips.
A few of the highlights:
• Conservatives Are Hateful: Rather often portrayed conservative policies as mean-spirited assaults on children. Early in 1995, Rather began one newscast by declaring: "The new Republican majority in Congress took a big step today on its legislative agenda to demolish or damage government aid programs, many of them designed to help children and the poor."
Six years later, Rather used a similar mantra to scold President Bush's "big tax cut plan, partly bankrolled, critics say, through cuts in many federal aid programs for children and education." Of course there were no "cuts" - in 2004, the Cato Institute calculated the Department of Education's budget had soared 75 percent during Bush's first three years, from $36 billion to $63 billion.
• But the Clintons Were Wonderful: When CBS paired Rather with Connie Chung, he sought inspiration from the liberal First Family. "If we could be one-hundredth as great as you and Hillary Rodham Clinton have been in the White House, we'd take it right now and walk away winners," Rather fawningly told Bill Clinton in 1993. Then when Hillary decided she wanted a New York Senate seat, Rather put on his Democratic press secretary's hat: "Once a political lightning rod, today she is political lightning."
Rather evidently didn't mind looking foolish as he touted the Clintons' greatness. He startled FNC's Bill O'Reilly in 2001 when he declared Bill Clinton to be "an honest man." Rather ridiculously elaborated: "I think you can be an honest person and lie about any number of things."
• Helping His Liberal Friends: During last year's campaign, John Kerry's operatives wanted to sully Bush's economic record, and Rather obliged. Reporting the brutal murder of four civilians in Iraq last March, he smarmily asked: "What drives American civilians to risk death in Iraq? In this economy, it may be, for some, the only job they can find."
But when Kerry faced criticism, Rather switched from offense to defense. In a July interview, he presented the Democratic nominee as a hero victimized by a nasty GOP: "Have you ever had any anger about President Bush - who spent his time during the Vietnam War in the National Guard - running, in effect, a campaign that does its best to diminish your service in Vietnam? You have to be at least irritated by that, or have you been?"
Liberals will probably miss having such a friend at the helm of a network newscast, but fans of fair and balanced journalism won't miss Dan Rather one bit.
- Rich Noyes