Pot and Kettle: Huff-Po Asks Dan Rather If Bushies Are Dishonest

Rachel Sklar of The Huffington Post interviewed Dan Rather, which is not a real surprise, since she’s been supportive of his vengeful lawsuit against CBS News (and his partner in fraud Mary Mapes is a Huff-Poster). But why would she ask Rather to decry the dishonesty of the Bush administration, considering his own wallowing in falsehoods? Does the Huffington Post need to share Rather’s apparent delusion that the phony documents are real until he can be convinced otherwise? In Part II of her interview, after Rather denounced how bad economic news snuck up on us because "we were lied to and people dealt in sophistry at best and misled by big people in positions of power," the honesty question followed.

SKLAR: You mentioned people in positions of power not being forthright, or lying outright. There are so many echoes in that elsewhere, especially with respect to the Iraq war, obviously. Do you see this as a pattern of how this administration has operated?

RATHER: The short answer is yes. It isn't just this administration. But since they have the executive power of government, I think they have a lot to answer for. They've had the legislating power in Washington for a little while. But it isn't just this administration. You know, mark well that I say in some cases we've been lied to and in other cases dealt in sophistry that was misleading. But there are people in Congress on the other side of the aisle who either didn't know what they should have known and/or didn't fully express what they knew, and to that matter, give heed to an opinion as clearly as they might.

When Sklar changed the subject to the presidential campaign, Rather declared that John McCain might not be punished by association with President Bush in supporting the war in Iraq. But it’s odd to read Rather suggesting that some liberals really don’t think McCain is a war hero, perhaps just a schlub who stumbled into a prison camp:

But that his support of the war I know is seen by people who feel strongly about what is happening with the war — and who doesn't feel strongly about it? — that there is a large segment of the voting population that sees McCain's support of the administration and support of the war as a total minus. That there is at least as large a segment of the country that sees him as a war hero in Vietnam War, and if not a hero, certainly someone who sacrificed mightily for five and a half years in a North Vietnamese prison camp. They see the fact that he has extensive military experience. He graduated from [the] Naval Academy and going on to being a base fighter pilot which is an extremely difficult accomplishment.

From there, Sklar unloaded the Media Matters line that McCain’s service (and his granting broad media access) is leading to rosy coverage:

SKLAR: Do you think that part of that lies in the fact that he is often portrayed so rosily in the press? You know, you sort of described his military record. Most people - when he's being spoken of everybody does make a point when they are criticizing him, before doing so, makes the point of saying, "but he's a war hero." Do you think that even the act of disclaiming like that sort of creates a predisposition towards gentleness with him on the part of the press? Rachel Maddow on MSNBC called it a "romantic notion" of McCain. So do you think that he's getting an advantage from that?

RATHER: Well, what a good question. And the straight answer is: they don't think so but probably. He has a lot of things going for him with the press not the least of all is that he has a long record of being accessible to the press, of being friendly with the press — challenging, criticizing when he thinks it's called for to his advantage, but he has developed a lot of good contacts in the press and he's done it the old fashioned way: he meets with reporters, he travels with reporters, he's accessible when he travels with reporters and that does make a difference one way, and I will argue that is shouldn't make a difference, but it does make a difference. Do I think that there is in some ways a romanticized view of him? The answer is, yes. But who would argue that there isn't some of the same thing in a different context with Barack Obama?

SKLAR: I would agree, absolutely.

RATHER: So it's hard to criticize McCain for - if it's only (I don't happen to think it is only) but if it is only because he sees good relations with the press in general and to reporters and various reporting organizations as to his advantage, that who can blame him, if that's all it is? But I don't think that's all it is. I think he genuinely likes the reporters. Not every reporter but he genuinely likes reporters. I think he understands the role of the press in a free society and that comes through — and yes, because I am a journalist, I may particularly like that — but that's not a bad characteristic to have as a president.... McCain's flaws, real or imagined or made up [!], are going to come to the fore whether one subscribes to his view that the press in some ways has a romanticized view of him or not. And that's true of the other two as well.

Rather’s poor-mouthing the economy matched the current network tone in comparing the current situation as the worst since the Great Depression. (None of these liberals remembers the hyperinflation and high unemployment in America in 1979 and 1980 under Jimmy Carter):

It's a tumultuous time, and a very deeply disturbing and concerning time. And in my lifetime, you'd have to go back to World War II and the Great Depression to find a time that was more worrisome.

(Screen capture from a funny earlier blog post.)

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis