Washington Post TV reporter Lisa DeMoraes reported Wednesday on Dan Rather's appearance before TV critics to promote his obscure new venture on HDNet -- how far the mighty have fallen! -- boasting he would not bow to right-wing pressure groups:
Rather acknowledged he comes to HDNet with "baggage."
"Yes, I have baggage -- I have the baggage of being a graduate of the journalism school of South Vietnam," he said.
He also acknowledged he was "biased -- I have a very strong bias toward independent journalism."
"Some of what you describe as 'baggage,' " he told one critic, "comes from people who have the following view: Their view is, 'You report the news the way I want it reported or I'm going to make you pay a price and hang a sign around your neck saying you're a bomb-toting Bolshevik or something.' "
This is a slightly different version of Rather's sign-hanging quote when he came under attack in 2004 for going on air with flimsy faxes from Kinko's claiming the momentous news that perhaps George W. Bush missed an Alabama flight physical or a dental checkup. Back then, he told USA Today:
"People who are so passionately partisan politically or ideologically committed basically say, ‘Because he won’t report it our way, we’re going to hang something bad around his neck and choke him with it, check him out of existence if we can, if not make him feel great pain.’ They know that I’m fiercely independent and that’s what drives them up a wall.”
We didn't want to check him out of existence, even if a job talking to six viewers on HDNet might feel like professional death to him.
UPDATE: Rich Noyes informs me that Rather used almost this exact same "bomb-throwing Bolshevik" language in an interivew with Geraldo Rivera on his old CNBC show "Rivera Live" on May 21, 2001:
"I think the tag, you know, somehow or another, 'he's a bomb-throwing Bolshevik from the left side' that's attached to me, is put there by people who, they subscribe to the idea either you report the news the way we want you to report it, or we're gonna tag some, what we think negative sign on you."