Disgraced news anchor Dan Rather wrote a post on Facebook yesterday attacking Trump’s comments about “Second Amendment people.” Here’s a sample:
No trying-to-be objective and fair journalist, no citizen who cares about the country and its future can ignore what Donald Trump said today. When he suggested that “The Second Amendment People” can stop Hillary Clinton he crossed a line with dangerous potential. By any objective analysis, this is a new low and unprecedented in the history of American presidential politics. This is no longer about policy, civility, decency or even temperament. This is a direct threat of violence against a political rival. It is not just against the norms of American politics, it raises a serious question of whether it is against the law. If any other citizen had said this about a Presidential candidate, would the Secret Service be investigating?…
To anyone who still pretends this is a normal election of Republican against Democrat, history is watching. And I suspect its verdict will be harsh. Many have tried to do a side-shuffle and issue statements saying they strongly disagree with his rhetoric but still support the candidate. That is becoming woefully insufficient. The rhetoric is the candidate.
There’s a lot more like this but it all has the same urgent tone of righteous indignation. This Facebook post shows everything that was wrong with Dan Rather as a journalist. There’s no effort to understand or explain the subject he’s discussing. Was Trump really making a threat here? Was he talking about the NRA? Was this a joke Trump should never have made? He doesn’t even bother to quote more than four words of what Trump said that prompted this response.
You see, Dan Rather doesn’t have time for all the messy details. Dan Rather already knows all he needs to know and he’s concluded that this was a “direct threat of violence.” What matters to Dan Rather, here and now, is to denounce the GOP candidate and encourage others to denounce him while there’s still time to elect a Democrat.
Why does this all sound so familiar?
In 2004 Dan Rather destroyed his career trying to damage a GOP president a couple months before an election. The documents he relied on to make his case turned out to be bogus and the alleged source of the documents was never identified (and probably never existed).
After the story collapsed, a CBS investigation found “10 serious defects in the preparation and reporting of the story” and blamed those errors on the “myopic zeal” of those working to get it on the air. Rather’s Facebook post shows not much has changed.
That’s not to say there’s no room for criticism of what Trump said yesterday, it’s just that Dan Rather has never wanted to do the work to get there. He just wants to be the guy waving something in front of the crowd—fake memos or an offhand comment—that makes him the guy leading the charge.