Dan Rather has been in the news business longer than some of us have been breathing. In that time he has covered more stories than I suspect he would care to count and taken more than his share of flack for offending those whose common trait is likely to be a skin thickness which could be measured in angstroms. Now that Kellyanne ConJob has decided that "alternative facts" are suitable for distribution via White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, Mr. Rather has decided that it's time to return fire ... and he has:
These are not normal times. These are extraordinary times. And extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.
When you have a spokesperson for the president of the United States wrap up a lie in the Orwellian phrase "alternative facts”…
When you have a press secretary in his first appearance before the White House reporters threaten, bully, lie, and then walk out of the briefing room without the cajones to answer a single question…
When you have a President stand before the stars of the fallen CIA agents and boast about the size of his crowds (lies) and how great his authoritarian inaugural speech was….
These are not normal times.
The press has never seen anything like this before. The public has never seen anything like this before. And the political leaders of both parties have never seen anything like this before.
What can we do? We can all step up and say simply and without equivocation. "A lie, is a lie, is a lie!" And if someone won't say it, those of us who know that there is such a thing as the truth must do whatever is in our power to diminish the liar's malignant reach into our society.
There is one group of people who can do a lot - very quickly. And that is Republicans in Congress. Without their support, Donald Trump's presidency will falter. So here is what I think everyone in the press must do. If you are interviewing a Paul Ryan, a Mitch McConnell, or any other GOP elected official, the first question must be "what will you do to combat the lying from the White House?" If they dodge and weave, keep with the follow ups. And if they refuse to give a satisfactory answer, end the interview.
Facts and the truth are not partisan. They are the bedrock of our democracy. And you are either with them, with us, with our Constitution, our history, and the future of our nation, or you are against it. Everyone must answer that question.
Thank you, Mr. Rather. Thank you a lot.
Postscript: The following message was just submitted by me to CBS News Feedback:
"Alternative facts" are not acceptable.
They weren't acceptable to Chuck Todd on Meet the Press, they were not acceptable to Dan Rather, who has issued a scathing statement denouncing them, and they should not be acceptable to anyone, especially members of the Fourth Estate.
Yet Kellyanne Conway seems to have no problem with them, as evinced by the above-mentioned incident. This is not acceptable. Conway, Sean Spicer, and indeed President Donald Trump need to be held scrupulously to account for their statements, regardless of time or venue. This needs to happen on camera and live if possible.
I am asking CBS News, including Scott Pelley, his producers and reporters to take an uncompromising attitude toward this brand of newspeak and not to tolerate it in any fashion, regardless of its source.
I urge anyone who reads this to contact those news sources you value and let them know how you feel.
Beautifully and eloquently laid out! Only flaw is, the Rs are going to keep their Chuckie doll rampaging until all their wet dreams like trashing Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and minority rights are consumated, THEN maybe they'll get around to thinking about pretending to combat the lies.
Maybe I'm being overly optimistic, Bertold, but I wouldn't bet the farm on that. Drumpf's current popularity is bad enough as it is, and ground work is already in progress for his impeachment.
Sure, he can insist on being stupid ... and WE'LL insist on his paying the price for being stupid.
If the Denier-in-Chief feels his power slipping, he'll just declare war, possibly use that as a pretext to impose martial law. Did you imagine he had no hidden agenda in removing civilian oversight of the military (Make America Great plan B)?
I don't buy it, Ruth. Trump has made a massive mistake with this "alternative facts" business, and while he himself did not make that mistake, it doesn't change the fact that he's associated with it and will get splashed by it. Doing something as stupid as using a declaration of war as a distraction, under the current conditions, will only serve to focus yet more critical attention on Trump. He already has some Senate Republicans questioning his judgment. He can't afford much more of that.
Put simply, Trump needs to watch his ass... Very carefully.
Great so we impeach him and pay obeisance to President Pence and the reign of Christian ISIS.
Bertold, if we can knock down Trump for being stupid, we can do the same thing to Pence for playing the Dominionist Christian card. This administration has already made the mistake of getting our attention with their poor decision making. If Pence thinks for one second we'll be any easier on him, he's got another think coming.
If Trump declares war, on any nation or anybody, I will do all I can to get my grandchildren and great-grandchildren out of the country. I will scream to the highest mountains and the deepest valleys that I do not support Trump and his co-conspirators and will work to defeat their schemes. I am sure other mothers, fathers will not willingly send their children into harm's way because of the ego of one man and his minions.
the first question must be "what will you do to combat the lying from the White House?"
Good advice for constituents of Republican congresscritters as well!
I've been trying to call my Republican senator (fortunately only one, Toomey, is Republican) for weeks, and have not spoken to a human being at either his local or Washington DC offices.
Related: "Why is Pat Toomey afraid of Philly?" (Will Bunch, Daily News, Philadelphia) He discusses how the senator seems to be avoiding constituents, and has never had a town hall anywhere near [majority Democratic] Philadelphia.