At one time, when the big three broadcast networks had a virtual monopoly, their spin became "facts" for all practical purposes. The way Dan Rather and CBS News tried to stonewall and brazen out the forged document scandal suggests that they didn't realize the extent to which their monopoly was gone.
With talk radio, Fox News, and the Internet reaching tens of millions of people, no longer could a TV anchorman say "That's the way it is," as Walter Cronkite used to say, and have that be taken as the last word.
What is perhaps most revealing about Dan Rather is that his defenders are mostly outside of CBS News, and such CBS News heavyweights as Mike Wallace and Walter Cronkite have recently spoken disparagingly of him in public. Mike Wallace referred to Rather's "contrived" performances.
"Contrived" is a polite word for phony.
Although Rather is through as anchorman, what he represents is not through, and that is what makes it important to be clear about what he was and what he did, regardless of the spin of those seeking to make excuses for him. We the public need to recognize what is and is not a fact and the media need to recognize the bias and arrogance in Rather's work -- and in their own.
One hopeful sign of changes in recent times is that even liberal media outlets have begun to see a need to have a few token moderate or conservative voices. It's not much but it's a move in the right direction. So is the departure of Dan Rather.
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