Beacon of Truth Dan Rather Scolds Journalists: 'Tell Them the Truth'

March 29th, 2016 11:53 PM

Well this is rich. Harbinger of truth Dan Rather, the disgraced former CBS Evening News anchor was on MSNBC’s Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell Tuesday actually agreeing with President Obama’s critique of the media. Asked to comment on Obama’s statements, Rather blamed the major networks for not doing enough hard-hitting, investigative reporting that he said “we particularly need in this presidential election.”

Host Lawrence O’Donnell began his interview by asking Rather what he thought about President Obama’s address to the media Monday. At first, Rather said that he was put off by the President telling him how to do his job, but on second thought, he only had glowing words for the President.

RATHER: But on second thought, better angels took over and I thought while he was forceful, he was measured. There was a lot of truth in what he said. Perhaps the most important part was when he said, he really called out the owners of our major information centers saying in fact, you are the guys, if you wanted to, if you wanted to perform a public service, you could plant investigate reporting, hard-hitting reporting of the kind that we need particularly in this presidential election. I thought that was quite valuable and on the money.

Rather continued, by calling out the media’s lack of “guts” and lack of “spine” when it came to covering this election. Maybe he was calling for the kind of “hard-hitting” reporting that amounts to running a slanderous story that’s based on fabricated documents and might earn you a Hollywood film?

RATHER: What’s happened to those of us in journalism, Lawrence, and I include myself in this criticism, is that in many ways we've lost our guts, we’ve lost our spine. We've lost the vision of what a journalist in a society such as ours should be and can be. Journalism at it’s best counts, it matters.

And what’s happened in this campaign, not just with what Donald Trump says but on both side---I’m not saying it’s evenly on both sides--- but, Nate silver of the New York Times said when it comes to Trump, much of the coverage has been really unconscionable and at least borderline cowardice. Cowardice is a charged word, i’m not sure if i’d go that strong. Those of us in the press and media have a lot to answer for as the president outlined in his talk last night in Washington, but I'd come back to the point that news is no longer seen by the people who own the major news outlets as something in the public trust, for the public service, it's all about money.

O’Donnell agreed that it was journalism’s job to “deliver” the facts surrounding each candidate. Rather continued his point that the press had lost it’s “guts” and the media needed to give the people “the truth.” (Is that really a word that Rather wants to be using?)

RATHER: [I]n a lot of ways the economics of journalism today don't allow us to do as much investigative reporting as I think needs to be done, particularly with a candidate like Donald Trump or  Ted Cruz or for that matter Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton. You can't go along on the surface of it. It's dig deep, give the people the facts, tell them the truth. They'll make the right decision.