Hilarious: Dan Rather Channels Bill Moyers in Rant on ‘Corporate Media,’ ‘Orwellian’ Sinclair

To accompany his Facebook post unleashing a torrent of disdain for the Sinclair Broadcast Group (SBG), disgraced former CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather used his weekly show on the far-left network The Young Turks to expand on the Sinclair ad controversy, denouncing it as “Orwellian” “propaganda” while deeming press criticism as authoritarian behavior.

Rather began with the President’s tweet about Sinclair and its business of owning network affiliates hoping to expand with the acquisition of Tribune’s stations. He added that “[y]ou may have heard that Sinclair’s owners are self-described conservatives, what some other people call hard-right reactionaries.”

 

 

Eventually winding his way to the affiliate promo about “false news,” Rather mischaracterized it as airing “on-air, frequently, in place of news” when it appears as any other promo away from news reports.

“It demonstrates the grinding erasure of local viewpoints at the largest group of local stations in America,” he warned before playing the heavily-edited Deadspin mash-up.

Rather responded to the video by declaring with a sense of doom that “[t]his is extremely dangerous to our democracy” before launching into a laughable tirade a la former PBS host Bill Moyers about “big media corporations” siding with whomever is in power to benefit their bottomline.

“News anchors looking into camera and reading a script handed down by a corporate overlord, a script meant to obscure the truth, not elucidate it, is not journalism. It is propaganda. It’s Orwellian and is on a slippery slope towards some of history’s most destructive forces. These are the means by which despots wrest power, silence dissent, oppress the masses,” Rather added.

Rather also took aim at those offering media criticism outside their own walls (such as the site you’re now reading):

To those who say this rhetoric is hyperbolic, I submit that attacking the press as honest brokers of information has been one of the constants of this administration and all those who normalize it. But this not normal. This is not how the freedoms enshrined in our Constitution, that beloved First Amendment, is supposed to operate.

Most amusingly, Rather offered his own Sinclair-like script with similar thoughts except it came from Rather so it’d be welcomed with admiration by Rather’s fans like Don Lemon and Brian Stelter. His ending differed as he lamented that “some media executives use their local platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control — to try to control exactly what people think.”

Offering a series of tips about being a responsible news consumer, Rather had a number of truly valuable tips except one that he himself couldn’t adhere to in 2004 with his fake George W. Bush report he still defends: “Number one, understanding that trusting a news outlet does not mean they’re perfect. No one’s perfect. It means they tell you when they screw up.”

His closing thoughts about media sensationalism would have carried weight if he wasn’t a frequent CNN guest:

If it focuses on personal, salacious, and speculative stories, find a new outlet, one that drills in on issues that actually affect real lives. Your wallet or pocketbook, health and education, schools, social justice, the environment. The true test of trustworthy journalism isn’t that they never make mistakes. It’s whether they’re willing to challenge the powers that be on behalf of those without power.

To see the relevant transcript from The Young Turks’s The News with Dan Rather for the week of April 1, click “expand.”

The News with Dan Rather
April 2, 2018

DAN RATHER: They own more TV stations than anyone else and they’re about to own some 40 more when they finish their purchase of the Tribune company, which also has at least 10 major newspapers. You may have heard that Sinclair’s owners are self-described conservatives, what some other people call hard-right reactionaries. That’s not uncommon among media moguls and Sinclair last year lobbied hard to underdo a regulation called the main studio rule. Now, the main studio rule requires that local TV stations actually be local in some sense, not just a signal being beamed in from corporate headquarters hundreds of thousands of miles away. Local studios, local reporters, local viewpoints about local issues. In October, Sinclair succeeded in getting the main studio rule killed by a party-line in the Federal Communications Commissioners.

(....) [GORKA AND EPSTEHYN COMMENTARIES]

RATHER: Last month, CNN obtained a script that Sinclair sent to their local stations. A script telling them they all had to read, on air, frequently, in place of news. The promo’s script was all about fake news, the supposed danger of believing other news media, the kind of media that just might be critical of President Trump. Now, the promos have been taped and they’re on the air. a compilation video of them by Timothy Burke at Deadspin went viral this weekend. We share it with you now not to embarrass any of the anchors here, who were told they had to tape these, but because it demonstrates the grinding erasure of local viewpoints at the largest group of local stations in America. Corporate headquarters decided this was an issue of local concern in every locality. Corporate headquarters wrote the script. Corporate headquarters gave all its viewers the same voice, the same words.

[DEADSPIN VIDEO]

This is extremely dangerous to our democracy. Here is the unvarnished truth. Big media corporations are in bed with big government in Washington, regardless of which party’s in power for their mutual purposes, not for the benefit of quality news coverage. News anchors looking into camera and reading a script handed down by a corporate overlord, a script meant to obscure the truth, not elucidate it, is not journalism. It is propaganda. It’s Orwellian and is on a slippery slope towards some of history’s most destructive forces. These are the means by which despots wrest power, silence dissent, oppress the masses. To those who say this rhetoric is hyperbolic, I submit that attacking the press as honest brokers of information has been one of the constants of this administration and all those who normalize it. But this not normal. This is not how the freedoms enshrined in our Constitution, that beloved First Amendment, is supposed to operate. So, in the spirit of answering speech with speech, let me offer my own script. 

I’m Dan Rather and I’m concerned about the troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country, the sharing of biased and false news has become all-too common in corporate media. More alarming, some corporate media published these same fake stories, stories that just don’t matter without checking with their journalists first. Unfortunately, some media executives use their local platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control — to try to control exactly what people think. This is extremely dangerous to our democracy. 

Sinclair’s promos, by the way, end with anchors telling viewers to e-mail them if they think their station’s coverage is unfair, but those complaints don’t go to the local stations. The e-mails are read and replied to by employees at Sinclair headquarters. And by the way, if you’re really interested in identifying fake news and figuring out what to believe, if you’re truly invested in the work of being a good, informed citizen, may I respectful offer a short primer. 

Number one, understanding that trusting a news outlet does not mean they’re perfect. No one’s perfect. It means they tell you when they screw up. Number two, don’t just rely on one news outlet. Number three, don’t rely on just the news to understand an issue. Read books, find the experts, find out how issues are discussed outside of news. Number four, if you find yourself agreeing with everything your news outlet says, you’re doing it wrong. If you’re news doesn’t challenge you, challenge your news. Now, number five, find a commentator whose politics differ from yours, intellectually honest even though their values differ from yours. If you can’t find such a person, maybe the media’s not the problem. And number six, remember that what the news tells you is far less important than what they decide to talk about in the first place. If it focuses on personal, salacious, and speculative stories, find a new outlet, one that drills in on issues that actually affect real lives. Your wallet or pocketbook, health and education, schools, social justice, the environment. The true test of trustworthy journalism isn’t that they never make mistakes. It’s whether they’re willing to challenge the powers that be on behalf of those without power.

NB Daily Media Bias Debate Conspiracy Theories Corporate Liberalism Double Standards Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats Online Media Sinclair Broadcast Group Regional Media The Young Turks Video Dan Rather Bill Moyers Donald Trump
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