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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Dan Rather On Tears And Fears

Hahmmm. I thought of Ilona's post about being dizzied by events, crazy politics and topsy turviness when I read about Dan Rather's speech on the New Journalism Order:
Former CBS News anchor Dan Rather said Monday that there is a climate of fear running through newsrooms stronger than he has ever seen in his more than four-decade career.

Addressing the Fordham University School of Law in Manhattan, occasionally forcing back tears, he said that in the intervening years, politicians "of every persuasion" had gotten better at applying pressure on the conglomerates that own the broadcast networks. He called it a "new journalism order."

He said this pressure -- along with the "dumbed-down, tarted-up" coverage, the advent of 24-hour cable competition and the chase for ratings and demographics -- has taken its toll on the news business. "All of this creates a bigger atmosphere of fear in newsrooms," Rather said.
For what it's worth, according to Rather the Bush administration is more repressive than the Nixon administration. One of the oddest moments in this article to me involved the "moral authority" of tears:
Nevins took up the cause for Rather, who was emotional several times during the event.

"When a man is close to tears discussing his work and his lip quivers, he deserves bosses who punch back. I feel I would punch back for Dan," Nevins said.
So if I get really, really upset about something and stamp my feet - that means I'm owed support? This sounds like the thinking of two year-olds to me. Is there not a duty to truth? If I broadcast a story asserting proofs that don't exist and then knowingly make statements about verification of sources that are false, does my passionate emotional commitment to the underlying story validate my dissemination of falsehoods? What is news about if it is not about what is really happening?

Just asking. (Quiver, quiver. Tremble. Sob.) I'm sobbing and womanfully pushing back tears because I believe a critical but fact-based journalism is a fundamental element of a free society, and I see journalists neglecting this standard. When a journalist airs lies and then defends them with further falsehoods, I feel that the public learns to distrust journalism. And (sob) this defeats the purpose.

I'm so passionately committed to this idea that I feel the necessity to just bawl in public. Cede me my absolute moral authority, or you are doomed. Believe me, women are better at turning on the fountains than men. I can outcry you any day, Dan. And let me tell you, if truth is going to be determined by the emotional passion and range of expressing it, the evangelical preachers are going to own the newsrooms.

I can see it now. The Rather doctrine wins out. The network anchors broadcast the news (quite mythical, but accurate!) while trembling, twitching and weeping as text scrolls up the screen. Occasionally they resort to a group hug and online psychiatric group therapy. The schools of journalism will have a two-year curriculum focused on method acting for those aspiring to be anchorpersons. Is this the ultimate fusion of Hollywood and RaTHerGate journalism? Only time will tell.

Why should anybody respect people who can remain straight-faced while uttering such nonsense in public? I would like to point out that this speech was made at the Fordham University School of Law. I'd love to know what those who attended thought of it.

Believe me, women are better at turning on the fountains than men. I can outcry you any day

And that is exactly why it doesn't count when you do it, it's too easy for you. :)

Be nice to Dan, he doesn't know how to cope with someone disagreeing with him and actually presenting him with a coherent argument. So he cries. And when he says the Bush administration is repressive, what he meant was people challenged his reporting and he was proven wrong. How dare they challenge him. Didn't they know who he was?

The answer of course is that yes we knew who you were Dan, and that is why we were so ready to challenge you. Enough is Enough.
It's not so much Dan - it's Nevins and the reporters who wrote the article.

One would think that this sort of reasoning would not be given any sort of credence. One would think that the hapless listeners would have been collapsing from their seats as they stopped breathing in an attempt not to laugh out loud.

If this was said here it is being discussed this way in journalistic circles. You know - Linda Foley and Eason Jordan type circles? I think this is a truer reflection of journalistic thought than we in flyover country know.
As for my tears not counting, I am scheduling a press conference and reporting you to the EEOC. (These days, the press conference always comes first.)

Gender-based discrimination on the teary-eyed validity index! Film of MoM sobbing at 11! I expect Hillary Clinton to be right at my side and Lawrence Summers to award me an honorary doctorate within a week.

Shortly after that, Western civilization will collapse in a sobbing group hug. Fly away while you can, little birdie.
I've been stamping my feet and have been near tears twice a week.

I have yet to be sold a winning lottery ticket.

What is it about news anchors after they retire?
I'm crying now. What can I get for it?
Crying about how far down the road we've gone I can understand, but crying 'cause you got caught? I don't have much sympathy for that.

There is one thing that is possibly true- the idea that times are more repressive now. I don't think that comes from a particular leader so much as the polarity in the minds of people generally. Nixon times were filled with feelings of besiegement, and the stakes are higher now.

I think we have entrenched encampments and that gives little leeway and tougher demands to toe the line.

It was interesting that the 'religious right' was the main defendent in their accusations. They cry while playing the intimidation and pressure game themselves, so it seems like they just don't expect anything but for the American people to roll over and just lap up whatever tripe is tossed to them.

I have just no sympathy for that.NONE.
Ilona - I am guessing that neither camp is really going to have a great deal of sympathy for this. As for more demands to toe the line, I don't think the American public was ever very tolerant of false accusations against American soldiers or faked documents presented on television.

I don't see this vast gulf between the American people. It is an illusion created by a small class of people who get paid to chitter in public (and now cry).

Yes, he's crying because he was caught. He didn't lose his position because he was fooled, but because he refused to acknowledge the error.

Tommy, go to journalism school before you can expect to get paid for public weepiness. I am almost certain that flight surgeons frown on these sorts of exhibitions from commercial pilots. You can have the uniform or the right to dissolve in hysterics while claiming persecution, but I am pretty sure you're not going to keep both.

SC&A, now that you mention it I haven't won the lottery either. It's outrageous. The next civil-rights movement, no doubt. I'll see you in front of the White House. I'll be the one crying my eyes out. Bring reporters - I'll bring the beer.
Beer? I'll be right over.
I go to Fordham (though not to Law School), and I can tell you that most of the people who attended were not law students. The Law School auditorium was rented out for the event, but the majority were either from the Business school or the undergraduates from the Lincoln Center campus (which I attend). Mostly Political Science and Communications students mandated by their professors, and mostly in awe of Dan Rather. As for me, after the scandal I have a hard time taking someone like him seriously.
Irina, thank you very much for your information. That does make more sense.

I can't take Dan Rather very seriously either.
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