Dan Rather is one of the most famous American news reporters of this century. Yet when you search his name on google, most of the results are about the controversy that surrounds him – RATHER than on his respectable career.
Rather was the first to report about the assassination of JFK. He was the White House correspondent during the Nixon administration and covered the Watergate Scandal. He reported in Afghanistan during the first bouts of instability in the Middle East, putting himself in danger. He reported on the Iran-Contra Affair. He interviewed Saddam Hussein…twice. And this is just a taste of what he has provided to the world of journalism. But when the Killian papers were revealed to be forged, Rather went down. After a 44 year long career with CBS, Rather left for good; he was pushed out the door. Now more truth has come out about it, and Rather tells how he feels as though he was a scapegoat for CBS’s mistake.
I think that this points to a larger issue though. Understandably, he made a mistake. And yes, since he was the face on it, other people at CBS who missed catching that mistake are probably still working there – while was a respected news anchor and now he’s done. I just think that’s sad. I have been told over and over that you can have a successful career in journalism forever but once you make one mistake, you’re done. I guess that’s true. I just think that it’s really sad.
The media has the power to influence public opinion, by definition. But with the widespread availability of news now, the general public has an eye on everything, all the time. Let me explain: You google dan rather, and the predictive text search bar says the following: dan rather controversy, dan rather scandal, dan rather bio, dan rather reports. It is sad that after 44 years, the first thing that comes up is “controversy.”
He’s not the only one though….You type in Janet Jackson and the first thing you see is “wardrobe malfunction” or you type in Tiger Woods and it says “girlfriends,” “cheater,” “divorce,” “text messages,” but not “BEST GOLFER IN THE WORLD.” It’s unfortunate that our news media does this. But it is almost more unfortunate that we would probably rather (no pun intended) hear about Janet’s wardrobe (or lack thereof), Tiger’s screw-up, or Dan Rather’s career-ending move than we would want to hear about their successes.