It was a pretty funny “Real Time with Bill Maher” on HBO this past Friday, although not for the reasons the host would have preferred. Maher invited deposed CBS anchor Dan Rather on to discuss whatever he wanted with total impunity, and what ensued was a full-fledged Fox News hate-fest. However, that wasn’t the funniest part, for Rather actually had the gall to insinuate that FNC gets talking points from the White House, and was doing its darnedest to influence the elections that just transpired.
Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. Honestly, I’ve had to use four boxes of Kleenex to dry off my laptop in order to post this article for your reading pleasure.
Those unpleasantries out of the way, Maher opened this part of the discussion with the following (video available here courtesy of our friend at Ms Underestimated):
I want to bring your attention to something that was on my friend Arianna Huffington’s blog today, the Huffington Post, it was an internal memo from Fox News, an organization I guess that would never hire you. And it says, “Be on the lookout for any statements from the Iraqi insurgents thrilled at the prospect of a Democratic controlled Congress.” That strikes me as the opposite of journalism, as looking for the end of the story before you find what the real truth is.
This seemed a bizarre set-up for a man whose entire career was precisely based on looking for the end of the story with total disregard for what the real truth was. Or, maybe I was confusing Maher with a real journalist, and therefore, the fault was mine for not expecting exactly what I received.
Regardless, Rather adroitly took the ball from his witting host, and ran with it:
Well, I think it’s fair to say, Bill – in fact I know it is – that Fox News operates, at least in a somewhat different way, than every other news organization that I know, that they have their talking points. In other words, somebody in the hierarchy, whether this is Roger Ailes who runs the place or not, we know that they get talking points from the White House, and they can say, “Well, we don’t always take those talking points.”
Of course, that's not something Rather ever had to admit to. After all, any sane person in America knew full well that was the case when Bill Clinton was in office. But, I digress:
But I think it’s pretty clear that they had wished the elections had gone the other way, and they sought to position their programming which would raise as many questions about it as possible. They may consider that as unfair, but I that’s why any reasonable objectivity is what they were after – that they wanted to frame the news in a certain way actually before the news happened. That’s not a crime. That’s not an indictable offense. This is America. They can do what they want to do. But I think that’s the perspective through which one should view it.
Of course, Rather likely knows what he speaks, as it was so clear to his former employer – the not-so right leaning CBS – that he was getting information from presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004, and trying to influence that election, that the not-so right leaning CBS fired him.
But, that’s beside the point, isn’t it?