Dan Rather told Jon Stewart Wednesday evening that most journalists aren't liberal.
Although one would think the disgraced former CBS Evening News anchor fired for presenting forged documents about President George W. Bush months before the 2004 elections was kidding given the venue being Comedy Central's Daily Show, Rather was actually serious (video follows with transcript and commentary):
JON STEWART, HOST: This idea of liberal bias and the idea, you know, in your experience, haven't most journalists, haven't their politics been somewhat more liberal?
DAN RATHER: No, it hasn't been my experience.
STEWART: Oh, that hasn't been your experience?
RATHER: It has not been my experience. Most journalists I grew up with, most journalists I’ve worked with and practiced with were trying to be honest brokers of information. Now, what sometimes got you a reputation you’re liberal, journalists generally form an apprenticeship covering the police beat at midnight, after midnight, it was Saturday night, the charity hospital. Journalists, the best of them, do see a Dickensian side of society that most people don't see. So when they try to call attention to that, people who don't like it say, "Oh, you're liberal." It has not been my experience.
I know that it's widely believed that CBS, NBC, ABC chock full of liberals. Not true. What it's chock full of is people who wanted to give honest news, straightforward news, and voted both ways in many elections. I'm not saying that nobody in the newsroom was liberal any more than I would say nobody was conservative. Frequently what happened people who were described as conservatives want to say, "I work at CBS News, and you know, almost everybody there was liberal." What they really mean is not everybody there agreed with them all the time. This is a sham. It's a camouflage for wanting…
STEWART: Do you think it’s been, it seems to have been very effective though, that working the refs. That's what I would say. It's really worked, and people are now very afraid to appear in any way as though they're taking a position on anything.
RATHER: Well, that's true. And that's why I say that journalism, American journalism in some ways has lost its guts, or it needs a spine translate. I do not exempt myself in this criticism - made my mistakes along this line. But there is a price to pay, and I’m not excusing it, but what happens if you stand up and ask a really tough question now and challenge say a president or vice president, you know there's going to be a price to be paid for that. And so often it is, “You know what? I'll just get in the middle, move with the mass, I’ve got house payments and car [unintelligible].”
In reality, Rather unwittingly disproved his entire premise in that last paragraph.
There is a "price to be paid" for standing up and asking "a really tough question now and [challenging] say a president or vice president" because the current White House resident and his second in command are Democrats.
That became verboten on January 20, 2009.
By contrast, there was certainly no "price to be paid" for standing up and asking "a really tough question" when George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were in power.
Regardless of his protests during this personal makeover revisionist history tour, Rather wasn't fired for standing up and asking "a really tough question."
He lost his job because he knowingly presented forged documents to the American people about their president.
And therein lies the bias whether or not a disgraced so-called journalist understands it.