Dan Rather Slams New Media's Hagel Coverage
On Thursday, former CBS News anchor Dan Rather appeared on MSNBC's "The Ed Show" to rebuke new media outlets for, in his view, tarnishing American journalism.
Rather said good reporting was in decline, and with the "new Internet," "traditional journalism" remains "so susceptible to manipulation, deception, and distraction that it allows lies to get started and then spread like mildew in a damp basement."
Rather and Schultz were criticizing conservative new media outlets like Breitbart News for writing stories about President Barack Obama's nominee for Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's refusal to disclose financial documents in his confirmation hearings.
Rather sorrowfully recounted his glory days, when the American mainstream media "was the gold standard for the world." If a reporter received false information from a source, he claimed, "he found it out because he wore out shoe leather, he made telephone calls, his organization had other reporters who would check it out, and they've exposed the lie."
Rather resigned from CBS News in 2004 when bloggers—not the anchor or his peers—proved he based an election-year report on forged documents which he claimed were evidence that former President George W. Bush went AWOL from National Guard duty in the 1970s.
Rather continued by saying Americans need to be reminded of what he believed was the shoddy journalism of conservative new media outlets because "there is a residue of people who say, listen, it was in the newspaper, it must be true, or it was on television, it must be true."
Yet without new media, Rather's report about Bush's National Guard service would have been taken as fact by millions of viewers.
Two weeks ago, Rather participated in an "AMA" (Ask Me Anything) chat on Reddit.com, and he told his online audience, when asked about the 2004 National Guard report, that no one had established the documents were ever forged. Commenters immediately eviscerated the claim with assessments from typographic experts and quotes from the man who Rather claimed had "authenticated" the documents.
After nearly a decade, Rather still has not allowed the facts to overcome his predetermined conclusion. Apparently, that sort of journalism is the "gold standard" Rather hopes will return to prominence.