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Rather weeps over “climate of fear”

Posted by Richard on September 20, 2005

With his lip quivering and fighting back tears, Dan Rather told a Fordham University audience Monday about the horror of being a news reporter in George W. Bush’s Amerikka (emphasis added):

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) – Former CBS News anchor Dan Rather said Monday that there is a climate of fear running through newsrooms stronger than he has ever seen in his more than four-decade career.

Rather famously tangled with President Nixon and his aides during the Watergate years while Rather was a hard-charging White House correspondent.

Addressing the Fordham University School of Law in Manhattan, occasionally forcing back tears, he said that in the intervening years, politicians "of every persuasion" had gotten better at applying pressure on the conglomerates that own the broadcast networks. He called it a "new journalism order."

He said this pressure — along with the "dumbed-down, tarted-up" coverage, the advent of 24-hour cable competition and the chase for ratings and demographics — has taken its toll on the news business. "All of this creates a bigger atmosphere of fear in newsrooms," Rather said.

It’s funny how different people cry about different things. I get weepy over this and this and this. Dan Rather gets blubbery when he thinks about how he and his pals have lost their monopoly on the news and can no longer cite anonymous sources, tout forged documents, and control our access to information with impunity.

Later that evening, Rather attended the News and Documentary Emmy Awards show, where he and his fellow MSM stars congratulated each other for being so superior to the rabble on cable, gave each other awards, and eulogized Peter Jennings. Oh, and they all still insist that the National Guard fake memo story was accurate:

   “It was Peter Jennings’ legacy to cover foreign news as aggressively as possible, and he forced us and his competition to do that for years,” said “World News” executive producer Jonathan Banner.

   While Jennings, who died last month from lung cancer, received sentimental attention, Rather’s tributes were more pointed.

   He spent the earlier part of the night excoriating newsrooms across the country for what he termed a climate of fear during an appearance at Fordham University Law School. He complained that politicians are applying pressure to the big companies that own the broadcasters, resulting in softer reporting. He also ridiculed cable news. 

   Rather was forced out from the CBS anchor chair after last year’s botched “60 Minutes II” report on President Bush’s National Guard service. He has insisted that the report was right, and last night several of those who paid tribute to him agreed.

   “Nightline’s” Ted Koppel praised Rather and gave a slap at CBS for not standing behind him. Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy senior fellow Marvin Kalb said he thinks the Bush story was correct.

Dinosaurs. Clueless about the warm, furry mammals taking over their niche in the ecosystem.

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