Dan Rather Repeats His Stale Sophistries About ‘Tight Money’ and ‘Fierce Independence’

Dan Rather just won’t go away nor update his obstinate refusal to acknowledge liberal media bias. Confronted with MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski’s observation that the mainstream media lack “balance” and convey “a liberal world view” (earlier NB item), Rather rejected the premise and offered up a banal defense: “What is the definition of liberal? I myself favor strong military, tight money, and clean water.” That’s the very same obfuscating silliness he put forward as an argument as far back as 1999 in an appearance on CNN’s Crossfire.  

In an interview for Julie Menin’s Give and Take program for WNBC-TV’s “New York Nonstop” digital channel, which will run this weekend and which TVNewser.com posted Tuesday night to highlight Rather’s take on a CNN-CBS News merger, Rather, making a parody of himself, declared his 2004 discredited hit piece of George W. Bush was “true” and insisted “I'm independent, fiercely independent,” maintaining:
I'm independent, I'm going to play no favorites, pull no punches. When I go down the street and knock out windows on one side, I'll knock them out on the other side. I think my record shows that.
He soon displayed his usual paranoia about how anyone who sees any bias in his work is just trying to “smear” him:
There's a factor of fear that's gotten into American journalism which – and I do not except myself from this criticism – which is what the public ought to worry about, and that is a fear of, well, if you really dig into something, you really expose some malfeasance – political or otherwise – or if you don't report the news a certain way that a certain group of people want you to, people are going to hang a sign around you and try to smear your reputation.
From the interview video posted by TVNewser, transcript provided by the MRC’s Brad Wilmouth:
JULIE MENIN: Continuing on the subject of journalism, we had Mika Brzezinski on the show a couple of weeks ago discussing bias in media on this program.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: I've worked in the mainstream media for all the networks, and I will say what people aren't saying. It's got a liberal world view. There are great people working at the networks, and they're mostly Democrats, okay? And they try really hard to be objective – really hard – and they do a great job at it. But the balance is not there within the objective mainstream media. It's not. It is not. And I'm not sure how we fix that.

MENIN: What is your response to that?

DAN RATHER: First of all, I love Mika Brzezinski. I worked with her and she worked for me for a long, long while. Love her. She's a great pro. I disagree. I've been in journalism for more than 60 years, I'm sorry to admit, and been in broadcast journalism, electronic journalism for more than 50 years. I've heard this criticism over the years. Mika is entitled to her opinion. I never rule out the possibility the other person is right. But it hasn't been my experience.

First of all, and we won't spend much time discussing this year in politics, and you know it's sort of a dead end. But what is the definition of liberal? I myself favor strong military, tight money, and clean water. What does that make me? The greatest bias in mainstream journalism, as people like to call it, both complimentary and derogatorily, is that we love a story, I love a story, that, and I'm independent, fiercely independent when  necessary. And when you're independent, when you're a fighting independent, I'm independent, I'm going to play no favorites, pull no punches, when I go down the street and knock out windows on one side, I'll knock them out on the other side. I think my record shows that. What we want to do is remain fiercely independent.

Now, there are people left and right, who take the view: If you don't report it my way, then you're biased. Well, in a word: bullfeathers. Simply isn't true. There are people in journalism who are biased, no question, particularly those who are on the air saying these are my opinions. But the spine of American journalism is a free press, independent-minded, pull-no-punches, play-no-favorites, tell-it-how-it-is, and don't-be-afraid.

There's a factor of fear that's gotten into American journalism which – and I do not except myself from this criticism – which is what the public ought to worry about, and that is a fear of, well, if you really dig into something, you really expose some malfeasance – political or otherwise – or if you don't report the news a certain way that a certain group of people want you to, people are going to hang a sign around you and try to smear your reputation. There's a fear of that. And while journalists high and low want to admit it or not, that fear runs through every newsroom in the story, "Oh my gosh, don't touch that story because it's kind of a third rail – you touch it, you're going to get burned."
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center