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A farewell to Dan

Just one more week. Just one more week until Dan Rather “retires” from CBS News’s anchor chair and starts filing reports for 60 Minutes. Just one more

week until a 24-year run of biased, misleading, politicized TV journalism comes to an end. As Dan’s colleagues give him a hero’s sendoff, remember the rest of the story:

6/17/87: On CBS’s Evening News, Rather says viewers are wrong in believing the Soviet people want freedom. “Despite what many Americans think,” he says, “most Soviets do not yearn for capitalism or Western-style democracy.”

1/25/88: Rather invites Vice President George H.W. Bush to interview for the last in “a series of candidate profiles,” but wildly badgers him about the Iran-Contra scandal. Rather yells at the Vice President and accuses him of lying: “You and the President were being party to sending missiles to the Ayatollah of Iran!,” he shouts, “...You made us hypocrites in the face of the world!” Rather’s hostile questioning went on for five minutes, and other reporters like Sam Donaldson and Mike Wallace called it over the line. Interestingly, Rather told reporters in the 1990s that he did not grill President Bill Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky scandal because Clinton had already answered questions about it.

5/27/93: Rather gives a less-than-objective ‘thanks’ to President Clinton after being congratulated for his new CBS partnership with Connie Chung, saying “Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you. Thank you. Mr. President. If we could be one-one-hundredth as great as you and Hillary Rodham Clinton have been together in the White House, we’d take it right now and walk away winners.” Adds Rather: “Tell Mrs. Clinton we respect her and we’re pulling for her.”

4/11/94: Rather blames “the worst of the Christian Right” for gays being “beaten to death in the streets with increasing frequency.”

2/28/95: Rather describes a Republican-sponsored bill as “making it harder, much harder, to protect health, safety, and the environment.”

3/16/95: Rather leads off “Evening News” by describing Republican legislation as a “legislative agenda to demolish or damage government aid programs, many of them designed to help children and the poor.”

4/22/00: During live coverage of the Elian Gonzalez raid, Rather says Fidel Castro “feels a very deep and abiding connection to those Cubans who are still in Cuba,” adding “there’s little doubt in my mind that Fidel Castro was sincere when he said, ‘Listen, we really want this child back here.’”

12/13/00: Rather begins the evening news broadcast by suggesting that a “politically and ideologically motivated” Supreme Court “handed the presidency” to George W. Bush. A month later, on “The Late Show with David Letterman,” Rather twice refers to Bush as an “elected or selected” as President.

1/22/01: On George W. Bush’s first day as President, Rather reports that the President reinstituted a Reagan-era ban on federal funding of overseas abortion “to quickly please the right flank in his party.” When Bill Clinton did the opposite eight years before, Rather described it as Clinton having “delivered on his campaign promise.”

3/21/01: Rather speaks at a Democratic Party fundraiser and raises $20,000 for the Travis County (TX) Democrats.

5/15/01: Asked whether Bill Clinton can be described as “an honest man,” Rather says: “Yes, I think he’s an honest man,” and explains that “You can be an honest person and lie about any number of things.”

9/8/04: On “60 Minutes II,” Rather ignores warnings from experts and uses forged military documents to report that President Bush may not have fulfilled military obligations while serving in the National Guard. CBS also contacts the John Kerry campaign on behalf of the story’s source.

Rather spends the next 12 days defending himself, calling individuals who question the documents “partisan political operatives,” interviewing “experts” who say they are accurate, and claiming to have “solid sources” behind the story, even though he had only one questionable one. Rather also demands that President Bush himself “answer the questions” and quit the “denial,” saying that the story is true even if the documents are false. Rather later admits that he erred in verifying the story.

11/23/04: Rather announces he will step down as anchor in March.

Just one more week.

Nathan Carleton is a Trinity senior. His column appears Thursdays.

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