Sunday, June 18, 2006

WITH RESPECT FOR DAN RATHER

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When R.E.M. released "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?" in 1994 Kevin Laffey and I were working at Warner Bros Records. Now we're just 2 public-spirited citizens trying to give back to and do what's right for the country each of us loves. Recently Kevin turned me on to a great holistic dentist and we celebrated my happy new dental situation Friday with a lunch at my favorite raw food restaurant, the Jade Cafe in Silverlake. A few hours later Kevin copied me on a letter he had written to CBS-TV and 60 Minutes and when I prodded him, he said it would be ok to publish it on DWT.




Dear 60 Minutes and CBS News,

It is with disappointment and disgust that I read the news of the marginalizing and forced exit of Dan Rather from not only CBS News, but from 60 Minutes in particular. To replace a journalist of his stature with the current pop stars of entertainment reporting, Katie Couric and Anderson Cooper, is a sad testament to the deterioration of what was once the flagship of responsible reporting in America.

Whatever the internal politics are of the 60 Minutes production, however egos might have collided and with whom, more respect should be afforded for not only Dan Rather, but for the legacy of what he represents in the history of television news. I certainly hope that a public show of support for your colleague is being prepared for your audience. Although I would like to see Ed Bradley, Leslie Stahl, Steve Kroft, Morley Safer, Bob Simon, Andy Rooney, et al walk off the show in protest, that kind of courage has all but left the arena of news reporting in this country. Instead of the allegiance to the Fourth Estate, allegiance has become more to the corporations that own "the news", the advertisers that own the corporations and the old political guard that dictates that news in the first place and who they deem safe enough to report it. Except for perhaps the unbridled frontier of the blogosphere, what has the Fourth Estate become after all in the age of the "(im)moral majority", but the State itself.

During the CBS Evening News which Leslie Stahl anchored tonight (June 16), that lack of courage was only too evident again. All the wonderful stories that Ms. Stahl, 60 Minutes and the CBS News division have reported in the past notwithstanding, a raging undercurrent of fear still runs deep in your editorial copy. A Republican bias hangs over each story like a pall, like a scythe. In a story on Bill Gates and philanthropy, the reporter used the term "liberal tree-hugger" pejoratively when speaking to a Christian activist. But even the word "activist" was apparently too strong as if even being an activist suggested something unsavory, something, God forbid, close to liberal. Instead, the reporter offered his guest a way to wriggle out of such a distasteful suggestion as an apology. Relieving the tension, you could almost hear the reporter sigh thankfully when she chose to refer to herself not as an activist and everything that word suggests, but as a "good neighbor". I think even Mr. Rogers would have gagged at the implication.

The media's demonizing of the words liberal, activist and even tree-hugger might benefit ad revenue in the short run, but in the long it is instilling in America's youth the notion that the ideas embodied by those words are inherently wrong and to use them is a shameful act. Shame on you, CBS, for allowing that mindset and for abusing the power you have for suggestion. It is the same abuse of power that the media used, yourselves included, to march a frightened American public over a cliff into the Iraq War like lemmings to the Bush Administration's beat. You could only wish that more of the populace of the United States should embrace liberal thinking, activism and, yes, the notion that hugging a tree is a healthy and loving thing to do now and then. To wit, I've included synonyms from the Merriam-Webster dictionary for the words Liberal and Conservative. Which of those would you be proud to be and which has left this country crippled with fear, extreme fundamentalism and shame in the eyes of the world?

LIBERAL
Synonyms - GENEROUS, BOUNTIFUL, MUNIFICENT mean giving or given freely and unstintingly. LIBERAL suggests openhandedness in the giver and largeness in the thing or amount given (a teacher liberal with her praise). GENEROUS stresses warmhearted readiness to give more than size or importance of the gift (a generous offer of help).

CONSERVATIVE
Synonyms - old-fashioned, orthodox, reactionary, traditional, unprogressive


Your treatment of Dan Rather has been indecent and shoddy. He deserved better than that as does the informed citizen. It drives one to find other sources for the news - unbiased news, not info-tainment as you would have it served up. Indeed, Edward R. Murrow must be rolling in his grave.

Sincerely,

Kevin Laffey
Los Angeles, CA



A TUESDAY AFTERTHOUGHT: CBS SLAMS RATHER ON THE WAY OUT

Maybe CBS hasn't gotten to Kevin's letter yet. Instead of honoring Dan Rather, they chose to slam him in their coverage of his departure. Classy!

5 Comments:

At 1:10 PM, Anonymous teach said...

I cannot for the life of me understand for one minute the hiring of Curic to do serious news. She is a flibberty gibbet if I have ever seen one. That she could command such a sallary and be sought after in the way she is is beyond my ability to comprehend.

 
At 2:42 PM, Blogger Timcanhear said...

Yes, Katie Curic as a news journalist is laughable and insulting to anyone looking for "news".
We're of that age now though and somehow, we have to convince those in the media corps to get off of the partisan teet and learn to drive their revenue through serious reporting, especailly now in our place and time.
Eventually the "people" will have had enough but by then, it could be far too late.
There is a story that I think is brewing concerning terrorists and how they are infiltrating our communities through the sale of heroin especially, but also, pcp, methamphetamines, crack cocain,
exctacy and any other drug that can rip family's apart.
We've yet to do anything about the poppy fields in Afghanistan and I firmly believe the move by alqueda to take communities one at a time could be happening now.
Much of the republican bias that the media is leaning to,as Kevin Laffley suggests, is in the NON reporting of real news.
Stories of sexual perversion and murder of teenage girls is case in point. Rather than report on the fact that 2 more American soldiers have been captured, or rather than point out the facts of the death and destruction in Iraq, (our little hell on earth),
they know they can pacify the populace with perverted stories of personal tragedy.
Perhaps the Dan Rather's of the world could rise up and fight back the lies and manipulation that the media is playing.
God knows John Kerry didn't fight back and this is the mess we're left with.
I work for an Air America Radio affiliate and I can gurantee you,
there is NO MARKETING done by the corporation that owns it. None.
It's there to pasify the liberals and if it fails, they will tell the "people" that they gave the left a shot but few were willing to listen. The media, in this case, is silencing itself for political gain.
My radio station is the largest Air America Radio signal in America, 50,000 watts of power reaching from NY to Miami on a good night. It's owned by an extrememly conservative broadcast company. Does anyone think for a minute they want it to work. I can tell you now, without a doubt, the answer is no.
It's media politics and we all know who owns the media.
They will hold onto it as a "political flank". The idea being, own the liberal station but don't market it for success.
It's an old radio maneuver that in this particular case, is designed to minimize the impact of other viewpoints.

 
At 2:47 PM, Blogger Paul said...

Take back the word "liberal", they've re-defined it to suit their purposes as they have with many other words, objects(American flag)(US Constitution)even religions.
Remember in the old days when Jesus was called the "Prince of Peace"?
We can't continue to allow them to use shallow arguments that are nothing more than scapegoating and demonizing.
I handed out "Liberal" cards today to all of my sisters in law at a fathers day lunch, right in front of the bigoted old man that spawned them and he could say nothing as they all accepted them with glee. I've handed out all of the 30-40 that I've printed so far including one to the fire inspector that stopped by to check my permit last Thursday.
The change is coming and we are all making it so.

 
At 6:51 PM, Blogger Teeguzz said...

In 1994 in New Jersey, a Repugnant candidate for the U.S. Sentate by the name of Chuck Haytaian was running and one of his Campaign tactics was to disparage 'liberals' and turn that term into one with negative connotations. In any case, some erstwhile political instinct must have been tweaked in my mind (or I had a bad nightmare of the future) and I was moved to send a proposal for a campaign poster to the NJ Democratic Party...In it, I listed the Webster's definition of liberal, as Kevin so eloquently puts in his letter as well. Liberal is not a dirty word, Chuck! was my parting shot...That doc was dated 8/30/1994. When I read Kevin's letter posted here, it brought that memory all back! I wish I would have pursued that dissent further back then, but a career and naivete got in the way I guess...

 
At 10:00 PM, Blogger IowaNiceGuy said...

I am angered by the way CBS has treated Rather. I am also saddened by the apparent lack of support in the blogosphere of Rather. I visited a number of prominent blogs tonight and there is no mention of Rather. He was one of the few -maybe the only one - to actually cover Chimpy's desertion.

I am glad to see this post here tonight.

 

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