Dan Rather, who has announced his "retirement" next March from the anchor desk he has held for 24 years, is a dinosaur. After the last of the old news anchors leaves his chair (Peter Jennings will be the final one sitting), Rather, Tom Brokaw and Jennings will be fossils. There will not be their like again.
Rather earned his stripes and paid his dues during a career that has spanned four decades at CBS and as a wire-service reporter before that. He is a man who loves his country. Recall his emotional breakdown on the "Late Show With David Letterman" following 9/11. Rather said he would go and fight the terrorists if the president asked him. Some thought his performance strange, even grandstanding. I thought he meant it.
While Rather is 73 and could have been expected to retire soon (his predecessor, Walter Cronkite, was forced out at age 65), the controversy over faked National Guard documents purporting to show George W. Bush failed to fulfill his military obligations appeared to give CBS management the excuse it needed to make a change. Rather, who helped bring down Richard Nixon, was himself brought down by a gross inaccuracy and a type of stonewalling reminiscent of the president he tormented.
It doesn't matter who replaces Rather. Everyone at that level of broadcast journalism has been ideologically vetted. No one who is a conservative is allowed to ascend to the top of major news organizations. If you disagree, try naming one. Despite plummeting ratings and numerous surveys that have shown large numbers of people believe the major networks approach the things conservatives care about with a bias, even hostility, network executives refuse to acknowledge those feelings and continue to present the news through the filter of their leftist ideological worldview.
Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center and a frequent critic of Rather, observed: "Mr. Rather's bias is part of an institutional problem throughout the national 'news' media - identified by former longtime CBS News correspondent Bernard Goldberg - which is the arrogant notion that their point of view is always accurate and always relevant to any story in which they choose to inject it."
More proof that nothing changes at the networks is the appointment of Jonathan Klein as president of CNN. Klein was executive vice president of CBS News. He praised the "60 Minutes" producer, Mary Mapes, who received and vouched for the forged National Guard documents from a well-known Bush-hater. Klein called Mapes "absolutely peerless . . . in the profession. She is a crack journalist."
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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