Dan Rather took a sledgehammer to the press’ credibility in 2004 with his fraudulent “scoop” alleging evidence that then-President George W. Bush, who was running for re-election at the time, received preferential treatment when serving in the Air National Guard during the Vietnam War.
The Killian documents controversy, as it came to be called, stands today as the greatest media fiasco of the 21st century.
So, of course, Dan Rather is anchoring a new news program. This is the Trump era, where nothing makes sense, the truth is boring and there's a premium on performative acts of "resistance."
The recently announced 30-minute program, “The News With Dan Rather,” will premiere this week on the Young Turks Network, according to CNN. The “untraditional evening newscast" will focus on, “original reporting, stories that Rather believes are not receiving the amount of attention they deserve, and analysis of the hot topics of the day.”
Rather, who lost his job at CBS over the Bush AWOL papers debacle, told CNN he is excited to get behind the anchor’s desk again because someone must stand against President Trump and his many attempts to undermine the press' credibility.
"I feel strongly that when you have a president who is continually, relentlessly damning the press, individuals by name, individual institutions and calling the press the enemy of the people — listen, this has to be resisted," Rather said.
He added, "This is a time when everybody needs to be counted. I don't want to be preachy about it, but we have a real responsibility, those of us in journalism and those of us who have experience in journalism, to do what we can. ... These efforts to convince the public that people in the news are dealing in fake news is quite frankly bullshit."
The nerve of this guy. Just so everyone is on the same page, this is the same man who lost his job for spreading misinformation.
The Rather fiasco may have occurred a full 14 years ago, but this industry still hasn't recovered from his botched attempt to sway a presidential election with a fake story. In fact, we would go so far as to say Rather did more to harm the press’ credibility in one day than any other person in this industry in the last 20 years. Rather's sloppy and fraudulent reporting seemed to confirm everything that conservatives and other press critics have long alleged about the media, which is that it favors political activism above the truth. People didn’t trust media before 2004, and their faith sure as hell hasn't improved in the years since the Bush AWOL scandal.
Amazingly enough, Rather is unrepentant. The former anchorman has maintained all these years that the story was mostly correct, and that the likely forged documents were just a small detail.
"One supporting pillar of the story, albeit an important one, one supporting pillar was brought into question. To this day no one has proven whether it was what it purported to be or not," Rather said in an interview in 2005. "I stuck by the story because I believed in it."
Pressed to clarify his position on the disputed report, Rather said, "The story is accurate."
As an unrepentant purveyor of misinformation, maybe the former CBS anchor is uniquely qualified to take on Trump. After all, you can't kid a kidder.