Dan Rather Touts Dan Rather: ‘Quality News With Integrity’

Appearing on Monday's edition of the "The Colbert Report," Dan Rather promoted his new HDNet investigative series by touting an ability to report "quality news with integrity." The small cable channel will premiere "Dan Rather Reports" on November 14. The show will feature the ex-CBS anchor who famously left his network after overseeing a segment that included forged documents used to attack President Bush. Amazingly, when talking with Comedy Central's Colbert, Rather touted his reputation in Bob Dole-style third person:

Stephen Colbert: "Now, let me ask you something. Now, the show is called ‘Dan Rather Reports.’ Um, what is the show about? Like, what is Dan Rather reporting?"

Dan Rather: "Dan Rather is reporting, hopefully, quality news with integrity. I hope it will be news with guts and spine."

Perhaps the key qualifier there is "hopefully." Later on in the segment, which aired at 11:50p.m., Rather hinted that this new program would feature a more unrestrained version of the veteran journalist:

Colbert: "You’ve said that you’ve got freedom here in this show that you didn’t have before. What can you say now that you couldn't say before?"

Rather: "Well, first of all, I do have complete, total and absolute editorial and creative control."

Colbert: "Good man."

Rather: " When you work in a large corporation, let's face it, most of our major news media outlets are owned by huge corporations now. It’s what I call the corporatization of news."

Colbert: "Hello, Sumner Redstone. You are you looking good, sir."

Rather: "Let the record show, you said that, I didn’t. I didn't have the guts to do it."

Could it be that the Rather we've seen in the past has been restrained and held in check? One can only imagine the liberal bias that this new anchor, free from "corporatization" will produce.

A partial transcript follows:

11/13/06 11:50

Stephen Colbert: "Now, let me ask you something. Now, the show is called ‘Dan Rather Reports.’ Um, what is the show about? Like, what is Dan Rather reporting?"

Dan Rather: "Dan Rather is reporting, hopefully, quality news with integrity. I hope it will be news with guts and spine."

Colbert: "I like guts and spines. How about balls?"

Rather: "Well, if we don't have those, we’re really in trouble. And we hope to do-- We will do one hour a week. It’s a one hour weekly series on HDNET, beginning tomorrow night, Tuesday night at 8:00. And it will be an hour."

Colbert: "Now, what is HDNET, explain to everybody what that is."

Rather: "That is a channel committed to the very highest quality of high definition television. It is a channel on your television set."

Colbert: "Okay, let me ask something, so it’s only for high definition television sets?"

Rather: "That is correct."

Colbert: "Okay. I like that because I have only high definition television. I threw out all my other television sets. I composted them as soon as I found out about hi-def."

Rather: "You see, it’s that kind of wisdom and insight that has made you the legend that you are."

Colbert: "Yeah. Yeah. Thank you very much. I have got high-def radio at this point. My only worry here, uh, uh, uh, Mr. Rather, is that you know, the world is so scary now. Do we really want to see the world in crisp detail? I mean, should we want to see the world right now, more like an impressionist painting, kind of blurry, a lot of color and light, but not much information, like ‘USA Today,’ shouldn’t, shouldn’t that be what the news be like, not much information."

Rather: "I don't think so. I think the vividness, the clarity, the detail, the depth that high quality high definition television comes out, melded with the kind of high quality journalism for which you’re known, and the superb writing. I mean, let's face it, no one in television with the possible exception of the late Eric Sevareid, writes as well as you do. You meld-"

Colbert: "Here is the funny thing Dan, I improvise the show. The union makes me put those writers names up. You’ve said that you’ve got freedom here in this show that you didn’t have before. What can you say now that you couldn't say before?"

Rather: "Well, first of all, I do have complete, total and absolute editorial and creative control."

Colbert: "Good man."

Rather: " When you work in a large corporation, let's face it, most of our major news media outlets are owned by huge corporations now. It’s what I call the corporatization of news."

Colbert: "Hello, Sumner Redstone. You are you looking good, sir."

Rather: "Let the record show, you said that, I didn’t. I didn't have the guts to do it."

Colbert: "And now let me ask you something, you have interviewed every president since Harry Truman, so you are uniquely qualified to answer this question. President Bush: great president, or the greatest president?"

(Rather laughs)

Rather: "Well, history will have the final say on that. He has two more years to run in his presidency."

Colbert: "I got to get a great or greatest here, Dan. What’s it going to be? I only got those two things."

Rather: "Well, if he is carved into Mount Rushmore after he leaves office, than you can give him an A. If not, it would have to be something at least a little below that."

Colbert: "I will put you down for great."

Rather: "Well, maybe you should say ‘very great.’"

Colbert: "Very- So that’s between great and greatest? . All right, ‘very great.’ You’re the first person to ever answer that way. Thank you for changing the test. Dan Rather, everybody."

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org