NPR Bows and Laughs with Disgraced Dan Rather in His Career's 'New Phase'

November 4th, 2017 11:09 AM

When liberal journalists lecture us about how much more they revere quality reporting than we do,  just observe how they treat disgraced Dan Rather. On Friday night's All Things Considered, NPR anchor Ari Shapiro treated Rather as the closest thing we have to the Cronkite Myth, the national anchor of our patriotism. It's like he never used easily debunked forgeries of National Guard memos in an attempt to tar George W. Bush and elect John Kerry.

Liberal journalists don't revere journalism as much as they revere the notion of helping elect Democrats. "Poor Dan. His heart was in the right place." 

Online, the headline was "Dan Rather, An Unlikely Essayist, On 'What Unites Us'." At the beginning of this seven-and-a-half-minute shoe polish, Shapiro actually asked Rather to read some florid prose from his latest book.

ARI SHAPIRO: Dan Rather's career has entered a new phase. At age 86, he's speaking to millions of people every day not at CBS where he anchored the "Evening News" for more than 20 years. Instead, Facebook has given him a new audience where he writes about the news of the day. Now Dan Rather also has a new book. It's a collection of personal essays called What Unites Us: Reflections On Patriotism. There are chapters about inclusion, the vote and service. I asked him to read an excerpt of the first piece called "What Is Patriotism?"

He proclaimed "Our founding documents contain some of the most beautiful and noble words ever put on paper. I recite them often and love them with every fiber of my being," and Shapiro followed up:

SHAPIRO: Did that make you emotional just now?

DAN RATHER: Yes and without apology.

SHAPIRO: The book does feel very personal. And in it, you acknowledge that you came of age in a very different time. And one of the things you say is that your love of country may seem anachronistic in today's more jaded world.

NPR clearly doesn't think there are any Republicans in their audience with that kind of sugared baloney. Is there anything phonier, anything more ridiculous, than the idea that Rather (or liberals) are trying to "unite us" in the Age of Trump? That they get to stand for weepy patriotism, and Colin "Pig Socks" Kaepernick? 

Just get a load of how Shapiro treats Rather as one of America's Greatest Treasures, laughing at his responses. Like an indulgent son, he gently acknowledged how Rather's phony-document fiasco was merely a crossroads where some shapeless menace suggested Rather should be "called into question." It's as embarrassing as writing the the Lewinsky scandal called Bill Clinton's marital fidelity "into question." 

Can you imagine how young people who may think of 2004 as ancient history have no idea what Rather did to George W. Bush? How Rather's checkered career helped ruin the approval rating for the media as a whole?

SHAPIRO: You left CBS under circumstances that you would not have chosen after a 2004 report about George W. Bush's military service was called into question. And in hindsight, I wonder whether you feel that now on Facebook you are able to use your voice and have an impact in a way that you would not have been able to at CBS.

RATHER: That's absolutely true - totally unexpected and one of the great surprises of my life. Look; I was at CBS News for 44 years, 24 of them in the anchor chair. CBS News was part of my identity. I mean, Dan Rather, CBS News, was just in my own mind almost my name. And when I left there under those circumstances, you know, I said to myself when it was finally over, I don't know what I'm going to do.

I still want to work. I have a passion for reporting news. But is anybody going to hire me? Can I find anything to do? But to have this social media phenomenon happen, I do find it amazing and humbling. Granted, humbling is not a word usually associated with present or past television anchor people.


RATHER: But I do feel that way. I don't profess to understand it, but I am very grateful for it. You know, one of the things that has happened to me with age - I think it may happen to quite a few people - is that I'm deeper into gratitude, humility and modesty than I've ever been. That may be damning with faint praise.

SHAPIRO: (Laughter).

RATHER: But I have learned - I have really learned the value of it. And I will say that, you know, part of what made this book possible was the, to me, still incredible response that we've seen on social media. And I see this book "What Unites Us" as an extension of that spirit but one that's broader in its mandate.

SHAPIRO: Dan Rather, I know that millions of people tuned in every night to hear what you had to say, and hearing your voice will be powerful for many of them. While you have their ear, is there anything you would like to tell them today besides buy the book?  (LAUGHTER)

RATHER: Well, I do want to say that. Forgive me if you must. There's a lot to be concerned about, a lot to shake us. But it's an essential part of the American character to, when the pressure is greatest, when they heat is hottest, to be steady. When we were attacked by the Japanese and faced with a huge, unprecedented world war, we were steady. When 9/11 - when we were attacked at 9/11, the country pulled itself together. We were steady. So just a gentle reminder that it's very much a part of our history and a part of our national character to be steady. And now is a time when we need it as much as we ever have.

SHAPIRO: Dan Rather, it's an honor and a pleasure to talk to you. Thank you very much for joining us.

A cynic would wonder if Rather was paying for this extreme unction. A realist would say corrupt liberal journalists help buck each other up. It's an "honor" to enter the courts of Dan Rather and his "powerful" voice for the masses.