Dan Rather, the journalist now infamous for “Rathergate,” in which he reported on memos that were swiftly found to be forgeries (forcing CBS to retract the fake news story) and were intended to cast a shadow on former President George W. Bush’s Texas Air National Guard service during the Vietnam War amid his 2004 re-election bid, has suddenly shown great concern for lying.
Wall Street Journal editor-in-chief Gerard Baker, in an appearance Sunday on Meet the Press, discussed how the paper would cover President-elect Donald Trump in response to a question from Chuck Todd about whether or not the WSJ would hold the incoming president to task for any potential lies he tells. Take a look at Baker’s full response courtesy of WND:
I’d be careful about using the word, “lie.” “Lie” implies much more than just saying something that’s false. It implies a deliberate intent to mislead. … When Donald Trump says thousands of people were on the rooftops of New Jersey on 9/11 celebrating, thousands of Muslims were there celebrating, I think it’s right to investigate that claim, to report what we found, which is that nobody found any evidence of that whatsoever, and to say that.
I think it’s then up to the reader to make up their own mind to say, “This is what Donald Trump says. This is what a reliable, trustworthy news organization reports. And you know what? I don’t think that’s true.” I think if you start ascribing a moral intent, as it were, to someone by saying that they’ve lied, I think you run the risk that you look like you are, like you’re not being objective.
And I do think also it applies – this is happening all the time now, people are looking at Donald Trump’s saying and saying, “This is false. It’s a false claim.” I think people say, “Well, you know what? Hillary Clinton said a lot of things that were false.” I don’t recall the press being quite so concerned about saying that she lied in headlines or in stories like that.
Rather posted a massively hypocritical retort to Baker’s comments in a Facebook posting Monday:
A lie, is a lie, is a lie. Journalism, as I was taught it, is a process of getting as close to some valid version of the truth as is humanly possible. And one of my definitions of news is information that the powerful don’t want you to know.
So this statement (see attached article) from the editor in chief of the Wall Street Journal about how his paper will report on Donald Trump’s potential (likely?) future lies is deeply disturbing. It is not the proper role of journalists to meet lies—especially from someone of Mr. Trump’s stature and power—by hiding behind semantics and euphemisms. Our role is to call it as we see it, based on solid reporting. When something is, in fact, a demonstrable lie, it is our responsibility to say so.
There is no joy in taking issue with the Journal’s chief editor. His newspaper is a publication for which I have deep respect for the overall quality of its reporting. But, as I have said before and will say as long as people are willing to listen, this is a gut check moment for the press. We are being confronted by versions of what are claimed to be “the truth” that resemble something spewed out by a fertilizer-spreader in a wind tunnel. And there is every indication that this will only continue in the Tweets and statements of the man who will now hold forth from behind the Great Seal of the President of the United States.
Some journalists and publications will rise to the occasion. Some will not. You as the paying, subscribing public, can use your leverage and pocketbooks to keep those who should be honest brokers of information, well, honest.
Sure Dan, let’s contrast that with your own previous comments, courtesy of WND. In an interview with Bill O’Reilly on Fox News years ago, Rather opined: “Who among us have not lied about something?” He added, “I think you can be an honest person and lie about any number of things.”
Guess who those comments were in reference to? Why, that would be former President Bill Clinton, who Rather laughably claimed is “an honest man.”
As WND reported, as the heat reached its hottest point during the 2004 scandal, Rather claimed: “If I knew then what I know now, I would not have gone ahead with the story as it was aired, and I certainly would not have used the documents in question.”
Just several years later in 2007 in an appearance on CNN’s “Larry King Live,” Rather had a very different take: “Nobody has proved that they (the documents) were fraudulent, much less a forgery… The truth of this story stands up to this day.”
Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh spoke about “Rathergate” in 2015 in reference to Rather and story producer Mary Mapes, who was fired for her role in the scandal while Rather himself retired in 2005: “There is no doubt in anybody’s mind that these two people made this story up or accepted a forged bunch of documents that contributed to it being a story because they wanted to affect the outcome of the 2004 [presidential] race.”
Ah, Dan Rather, a pioneer of lying, hypocrisy, and fake news.