Dan Rather Blasts 'New Journalism Order'
Former CBS News anchor Dan Rather said Monday that there is a climate of fear running through newsrooms stronger than he has ever seen in his more than four-decade career.
Rather famously tangled with President Nixon and his aides during the Watergate years while Rather was a hard-charging White House correspondent.
Addressing the Fordham University School of Law in Manhattan, occasionally forcing back tears, he said that in the intervening years, politicians "of every persuasion" had gotten better at applying pressure on the conglomerates that own the broadcast networks. He called it a "new journalism order."
He said this pressure -- along with the "dumbed-down, tarted-up" coverage, the advent of 24-hour cable competition and the chase for ratings and demographics -- has taken its toll on the news business. "All of this creates a bigger atmosphere of fear in newsrooms," Rather said.
What kind of "pressure" is Rather referring to? The kind that forced him to abandon bogus anti-Bush documents a year ago. Rather also said there was more support within the organization back in the 1970s.
"There was a connection between the leadership and the led . . . a sense of, 'we're in this together,"' Rather said. It's not that the then-leadership of CBS wasn't interested in shareholder value and profits, Rather said, but they also saw news as a public service. Rather said he knew very little of the intense pressure to remove him in the early 1970s because of his bosses' support.
But don't worry, Dan, your network is fighting back against this "new journalism order." Just visit Public Eye, the new blog of CBS News. It appears dedicated to "setting the record straight" about media items floating around the blogosphere. Recently it told those who post comments to use "less knee-jerk MSM-bashing."
There was likely another reason why Dan Rather was lamenting. This is the first Supreme Court nomination he is unable to cover, which means no platform for his views. During Bill Clinton's nomination of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Rather opined, "Just when it has been made to appear that President Clinton was getting ready to nominate another white male, he chose a woman."