Hard Rain Journal 7-13-06: Dan Rather Not -- Will Former CBS Anchor Join Moyers & Cronkite in Wilderness, & Speak Truth to Abuse of Media Power?
By Richard Power
There is no greater danger to the US, and its true allies in the world, than the consolidation and control of the news by mega-monopolies in the hands of corporate overlords. It is an insidious threat from within. There is no more urgent need than media reform. And, of course, there is nothing farther from center-stage in the public debate during this election year.
But perhaps there is hope...
Last week, I was commiserating with a friend over the disgraceful state of the US mainstream news media and wondered aloud if Dan Rather, now that he has officially left CBS (SeeBS), would follow Bill Moyers and Walter Cronkite (and yes, Edward R. Murrow before them) into the wilderness, and speak truth to the abuse of power.
My friend scoffed, "Dan Rather?"
I said, "What do you know of him beyond what they have done to him? Can you imagine how much good he could do if he ripped the facade off what went on behind the scenes of the evening news over these last few years and shared some of his off-camera experiences, or even if he simply started reporting the news without the constraints of corporatist culture, and let the contrast with his prior work speak for itself?"
Consider these two items from recent days:
"I will tell you that there won't be any corporate considerations. No earnings per share issues, No worries about advertisers and what they might think." Okay, you probably think these are lines from a recent Nation editorial or Bill Moyers' latest speech. It's actually Mark Cuban blogging about his negotiations with Dan Rather to launch a program on HDNet, his high-definition cable channel that reaches about 3 million homes. (Later this week, Rather will announce that he's joining Cuban's channel--launching "Dan Rather Presents" this October.)...At a time when CBS News is run by "by bean counters and profiteers with no interest in serious news," as Moyers recently put it, the billionaire entrepreneur and owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball franchise seems ready to revive public interest journalism. At a time when newspapers and traditional media seem clueless about their future, Cuban sees opportunity. In a recent post on his popular blog, Cuban lamented what he calls the loss of spine and guts in mainstream journalism....I think he's one of the the most interesting media moguls around. What's appealing is that Cuban isn't just talking the talk. As Dan Rather might say, this guy "walks the walk"--putting his money into projects like "Sharesleuth," a new investigative website launched last month that will, as Cuban puts it, "do nothing but try to uncover corporate fraud." He's hired longtime business reporter, Christopher Carey, away from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, to run the site....Mark Cuban may just be the alternative needed to shake up the traditional media world.
Katrina vanden Heuvel, A Maverick Media Mogul Takes on Mainstream Spinelessness, The Nation, 7-12-06
AMY GOODMAN:....Dan Rather has left CBS. In your book, Armed Madhouse, you talk a lot about Dan Rather, Dan Rather taking on President Bush. As he was leaving, all of the reports around the country were about how he had fell for a kind of scam, false information about President Bush when he — around the whole story of his military records and serving in the Guard. Can you talk about that?
GREG PALAST: Well, first of all, we ran the original story on BBC television. I was a reporter showing that George Bush’s father, George, Sr., used his influence directly to get his son out of the war in Vietnam and into the Texas Air Guard. Rather repeated the story and added a little side story about a memo, which has nothing to do with the main story about whether basically George Bush’s family used influence to get him out of the war. We have never, at BBC, unlike Dan Rather — I mean, obviously, I haven’t resigned — BBC has never retracted a comma of our story at all. The problem for Dan Rather is that he wanted it both ways. I mean, he wants to be — he wanted to do this tough report, but then not stand by it. CBS retracted completely the report about the Bush family using its influence. That was completely wrong of them to do. And to me, it looks as if what CBS was doing was making an example of Rather for putting out a tough report.
AMY GOODMAN: And the general story went, it had been proven that he had false documents, and yet the investigative report done by Dick Thornburg and others actually never took on the issue of documents and, if they were false, why did the White House not prosecute, because this is falsifying federal documents.
GREG PALAST: Right, there’s absolutely no grounds whatsoever. Supposedly this document, the accusation, the whisper — it’s more of a whisper and a rumor than blank accusations that a lieutenant colonel of the Air Guard, Bill Burkett, falsified a document used by Dan Rather. I know Bill Burkett. I’ve taken a look at this. There is no grounds whatsoever to believe that the document was falsified. The story in chief stands. Neither Burkett nor anyone else can verify whether this little document
AMY GOODMAN: Right. They’re not verified.
GREG PALAST: It’s true. We can’t verify this thing at all. I mean, it’s really — what it is is a little sideshow distraction that was used to beat Dan Rather and to punish a reporter for trying to take on the President of the United States. That’s what it’s all about. It’s about punishing reporters and making an example of Rather. Believe me, they know that Greg Palast, frankly, is in exile, reporting from England. They know that Dan Rather’s carcass of his career has been thrown out on the tarmac. There is no reporter in the United States who is ever going to touch that story or any other story which reflects on the Bush family’s extraordinary power.
Amy Goodman interviews Palast on Mexico vote — and Dan Rather, Democracy Now!, 7-12-06?
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Words of Power #19: Colbert and McGovern Echo Murrow and Eisenhower, Is the U.S. Nearing Its Tiananmen Square Moment?
Words of Power #11: The Outer Limits ("We control the horizontal and the vertical...")
Richard Power is the founder of GS(3) Intelligence and http://www.wordsofpower.net. His work focuses on the inter-related issues of security, sustainability and spirit, and how to overcome the challenges of terrorism, cyber crime, global warming, health emergencies, natural disasters, etc. You can reach him via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, go to www.wordsofpower.net
News Media, Dan Rather, Alternate Media, Greg Palast, Amy Goodman, Democracy Now, The Nation, Katrina vanden Heuvel, HDNet News, Mark Cuban