This news is a week old...I wanted to see if anything notable would happen. Then again, what else can be done to Dan Rather? For anyone who has not noticed the FIRESTORM of controversy surrounding his most recent media faux pas, here is the offending quotation:
"The mistake was to try to bring the Today show ethos to the Evening News and to dumb it down," said Rather, "tart it up in hopes of attracting a younger audience."
We already knew that Rather is a liar. Now he's a sexist. Pretty soon he'll be a terrorist, a racist, and a Marxist. And somebody call Chris Hansen, 'cause I guarantee Rather's been talking to high school girls on MySpace. Idiotic.
What's interesting about this is that he is correct. Ratings have CBS in a distant third. I am not surprised by this. The evening news should be hard news - where I can get information about the world presented factually. Of course, saying so makes me a sexist. Oh, and I'm also a libelous sensationalist for the preceding paragraph about Dan Rather, which will inevitably be quoted out of context. In the next paragraph, I'm going to be a racist.
I've always found it morbidly amusing when the media as a whole unites and brings its formidable war machine to bear against a single person. In an awe-inspiring display of media frenetics, Imus - who had a 35 year career - got canned in a week. It's not that I think these guys were right - they both made idiotic mistakes, and deserved some criticism and disciplinary action. But I do believe that they were mistakes, and it's astounding how quick we are to demonize them. Imus helped raise $6 million for veterans' medical care at the same time the stories were breaking about how terrible the veterans hospitals are. Rather anchored CBS for 24 years - an eternity in media - and helped break Kennedy's assassination. But both of these records are irrelevant, for all are powerless against the merciless onslaught of fervent punditry.
They should know by now that you can't apologize for being an "-ist". We're quick to apply the dreaded "-ists", the very worst labels you can have. Some of them are - in order of ascending severity - sexist, fascist, terrorist, racist, all of which have been floating around in the news an awful lot lately. In reality every one of us has said something at one time that could be construed as an egregious offense against humanity. These just got caught doing it. Members of the media, like politicians, must not upset people. Ever. You and I, luckily, can continue to spout off all of the terribly intolerant and insane things that enter our minds. An interesting case study in double standards?
I suppose Rather will continue to draw negative attention until he masters the most important rule of showbiz:
When you're up, watch your back. When you're down, shut up, and check into rehab.