Former CBS news anchor Dan Rather has interviewed every president since Dwight Eisenhower, and he says the state of the current presidency is not normal. Now 86, Rather reflects on America’s founding principles in his new book of essays, “What Unites Us: Reflections on Patriotism.” Rather’s latest media venture, News and Guts, posts stories on Facebook that reach upwards of 25 million people. He joins us in studio to talk about politics, why he thinks the free press is facing a “state of crisis” and what he’s done since leaving CBS in 2005 due to flawed reporting about then-President George W. Bush’s military service during the Vietnam War.

Dan Rather on ‘What Unites Us’ in an Age of Deep Division 8 December,2017Michael Krasny

Guests:
Dan Rather, president & CEO, News and Guts; former anchor, CBS Evening News; author, "What Unites Us: Reflections on Patriotism"
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  • Skip Conrad

    Tell us about your role in the Kennedy assassination.

    • Noelle

      he was there to report it?

      • Skip Conrad

        Well, yes. But he promoted the lone gunman theory, and rocketed from a young inexperienced report to huge success. There are issues. i guess everybody has issues, but it would be nice to hear it from him, as he makes his final bow.
        http://stonezone.com/article.php?id=581

  • Kurt thialfad

    Current presidency not normal? What presidency has been normal?

    • MikeCassady

      Saying “everything is relative” cannot escape the Liar’s Paradox. Which is to say, since everything is relative, then what I’m saying when saying “Everything is relative” is itself relative, but that can’t be said for sure becuase it too is relative with respect to anything like truth. The wagons did sometimes form a circle, but that was not their raison d’être.

  • EIDALM

    Divisions are designed and mastered by the elites ruling class, advanced by their paid corrupt media to rule and rob the ignorant masses……The old British way, divide and rule, to rob their assets and civil liberties,

    • geraldfnord

      I doubt they’re all designed, one of the human natures is to simplify the world and other humans so that we don’t have to care about most of them, can kill them with impunity for imaginary reasons and misdirected real ones,and so on. Think of all the tribes whose name for themselves translates into ‘people’, think of the sex discrimination and weird sexual tabous everybody had, almost without question, until recently.

      I agree that ruling classes enthusiastically use and amplify these when they can and need to do, but to blame them exclusively were both inaccurate and runs the risk of thinking that the great masses of people are virtuous when they are not—if they were, they’d be a lot harder to rule.

      • Ehkzu

        So true. Fake news only achieves its goals when it panders to the lumpen proletariat’s biases and bigotry. That’s why it worked to challenge President Obama’s citizenship–something a majority of Republican voters question to this day, amazingly.

      • EIDALM

        They are designed and very well planed, is obvious unless you are an ostrich..

    • MikeCassady

      The consensus arbitration process depends upon carefully constructed and endorsed opinions. Opinions represent gambits that can be debated and defended. Being opinionated ends intelligent discussion, and rings the bell for the start of the fight.
      You’re right that divisiveness is what is going on at the moment as the naughty little voices of death advocate for the cinematic fun of failure of governance—otherwise known as Honest “Mob” Donald just saying what he thinks, all fact reduced to alternatives, yea man. We can do better than that. What we’re watching is a weak person, like the world-be painter and Master Ace of the blustery beer halls of Munchen, who hear voices as a “calling”, very personal and all-about-them, and feel compelled to go in the direction the wind blows them. In the fable of the oak and the reed, the wind might break the oak when the reed might bend, but the character of the tumble weed is to go in the path of least resistance suggested by any self-appointed blow-hard.

  • Curious

    Dan Rather: king of fake news.

  • geraldfnord

    I’d be curious if he guesses as I do that in 2004, when all discussion of G.W.B.’s avoidance of air national guard service was short-circuited when CBS were provided with faked documents chock full of what still appears to be completely accurate information, that was gas-lighting by Rove &co.. It seems their style—but, on the other hand, it’ s very easy to exaggerate the intelligence and competence of a feared bad actor, and random bad stuff happens all the time.

    • Curious

      Bush fully and honorably discharged his duties.

      • Noelle

        in a rich boys’ unit, like many of the privileged during the Vietnam era, well this has always been an option for the rich throughout history.

        • Curious

          The controversy over Bush’s service centers on what his critics call “the period in question,” that is, the time from May 1972 until May 1973. What is not mentioned as often is that that period was in fact Bush’s fifth year in the Guard, one that followed four years of often intense service.

          Bush joined in May 1968. He went through six weeks of basic training–a full-time job–at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Tex. Then he underwent 53 weeks of flight training–again, full time–at Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta, Ga.

          Then he underwent 21 weeks of fighter interceptor training–full time–at Ellington Air Force Base in Houston. Counting other, shorter, postings in between, by the end of his training period Bush had served two years on active duty. Certified to fly the F-102 fighter plane, Bush then began a period of frequent–usually weekly–flying.

          The F-102 was designed to shoot down other fighter planes, and the missions Bush flew were training flights, mostly over the Gulf of Mexico and often at night, in which pilots took turns being the predator and the prey.”If you’re going to practice how to shoot down another airplane, then you have to have another airplane up there to work on,” recalls retired Col. William Campenni, who flew with Bush in 1970 and 1971. “He’d be the target for the first half of the mission, and then we’d switch.”

          During that period Bush’s superiors gave him consistently high ratings as a pilot. “Lt. Bush is an exceptional fighter interceptor pilot and officer,” wrote one in a 1972 evaluation. Another evaluation, in 1971, called Bush “an exceptionally fine young officer and pilot” who “continually flies intercept missions with the unit to increase his proficiency even further.” And a third rating, in 1970, said Bush “clearly stands out as a top notch fighter interceptor pilot” and was also “a natural leader whom his contemporaries look to for leadership.”

          • Noelle

            yeah, but he didn’t go to Vietnam.

          • Curious

            So what? He din’t lie, flee to England and spend his time there sexually assaulting women.

          • Noelle

            ah the free love atmosphere of Oxford. oh well, lots of men were draft dodgers at that time. Life aint fair, is it?

          • Curious

            Very true.

          • Another Mike

            W. just quit showing up. Yet there were no repercussions.

          • Curious

            Not true.

  • jakeleone

    Dan is America suffering from a perfectionism crisis? Why can’t people make mistakes and be forgiven? Even Al Franken is resigning for things he did in his career as comedian. Seems we just can’t give anyone a break. Have we become a nation of Quality Assurance trolls?

    • Another Mike

      Garrison Keillor is officially an unperson — no more can his shows be bought from the MPR website, for example. I wonder what exactly he did to precipitate this.

      • Noelle

        Someone is suing him. Maybe there are more women who will come out. But this erasure of him and his poetry show and PHC are Orwellian.

      • RealityCheck SantaCruz

        Apparently he owns the PHC name – so it seems it’s more that they can’t sell his stuff rather than MPC choosing to “unperson” Keillor. Makes more sense that way.

    • MikeCassady

      I keep wanting to harp on the idea that the insurgence of women against having to accept second-class citizenship in public life is about some eternal story of sex and power. The present populist power grab is targeting the advances women have made as a category by working as a national constituency. The populists are trying to take down the national community formed during and after World War II under wartime emergency conditons. Conservative factions advocating a return to the halcyon days of small-town USAmerica where fathers knew best, children were Leave it to Beaver and women were protected against their dangerous sexuality by being kept “barefoot and pregnant”, as some use to suggest. The so called “return to the good old days” is a bill of goods being sold to angry and frightened people being herded against their own best judgment and interests to the drumbeat of a retrograde reactionary faction who secretly hate the rule of law and favor a dictatorship of the personality.

  • Noelle

    Awesome, Democracy Now!/Amy Goodman reference!

  • Noelle

    Ever since Watergate, the Presidency has lost its noble sheen. Ever since then, we have not had any great presidents, and now we have this horrid Dotard to make us see the ugliness of the office.

    • Another Mike

      Trump will have to go far to equal the damage of the Bush-Cheney administration: letting the homeland be attacked by terrorists, and then starting two unnecessary wars that cost 4000 lives and adding $4.5 trillion to the national debt when all expenses are accounted for.

      • Noelle

        yeah and they had 8 years to do that.

    • MikeCassady

      I understand your chagrin, but dystopia is just cheap thrills trying to look noble. Let’s build the kinds of conscious awareness that can make us worthy of living otherwise than as herded brutes.

      • Noelle

        I agree, we are so stuck in the mud, we are railing against the status quo, reacting to every tweet and not organizing to overcome this.

        • MikeCassady

          I’m with you, and thanks.

  • Another Mike

    The Washington Post published on their website that Trump’s dad was a member of the KKK, based on his arrest at a rally that occurred two blocks from his parents’s home, and the New York Times published on their op-ed page that Trump paid Russian hookers to urinate for him, based on the infamous “dossier.” Neither had a shred of confirming evidence — I must consider them fake news.

  • Debbie Neff McKee

    The Bush story was a classic hit by Karl Rove…that typewriter was placed into the scenario to start
    the “fake news” that the story was false…I learned enough about Karl Rove from Molly Ivins to know his
    M.O….sorry this happened to you Dan and I’m sorry that CBS did not stand behind you….

    • Another Mike

      All they had to do was retype the original memo into a contemporary word processor with proportional spacing, to make the facts seem dubious.

    • chriswinter

      I miss Molly Ivins. Imagine what she’d be writing in present circumstances!

    • Curious

      It was fake news. And Rather continues to say the story was accurate. It was indisputably false.

  • Curious

    Poor Danny boy! Still insisting his bogus story about Bush was true!

  • Curious

    Uh, Krasny, no. Franken was not accused of “swatting women on the butt.”

  • William – SF

    What does unite us?

    • Noelle

      Taco trucks?

  • Noelle

    What does he think about the dramatized movie about the Bush story?

  • Curious

    Trump has said that the left wing media is the enemy of the people and he is absolutely correct. Same with the FBI – we all know that the so-called investigation of Clinton was a white wash. We know that left wing agents controlled and subverted the investigation just as they are doing with respect to the ridiculous collusion investigation.

    • Noelle

      Then Fox News is the friend of the people?

  • Ehkzu

    The attack on Dan Rather over Bush II’s upper class draft dodging is a perfect example of how the Republican Ministry of Propaganda, time after time after time, manufactures a phony scandal about liberals to conceal a real scandal by right wingers. As Rather says, the story was true. Innumerable other examples exist, such as “Fast and Furious,” which the Ministry of Propaganda used to take the heat off the American arms industry’s very profitable trafficking in firearms to the Mexican drug cartels.

    Then what happens is that right wingers being interviewed rapidly recite litanies of these faked scandals, knowing that it only takes seconds to tell a lie, but minutes or even hours to refute them. And right wing shock troops, such as the ironically named “Curious” here, constantly reference this litany in their partisan attacks in comment threads like this one.

    • Curious

      Bush did not dodge the draft, unlike Billy Clinton.

  • Curious

    Danny’s lawsuit against CBS was thrown out of court. Carry on defending lies, Danny!

  • William – SF

    Isn’t patriotism the last refuge of scoundrels?

    • Curious

      Aren’t cliches the last refuge of the feeble minded?

  • William – SF

    Does not your book Mr Rather play to the hears of liberals and not to conservatives’? Hasn’t the country made its choice and taken sides?

  • Noelle

    good observation by the caller. Classic Steve Bannon culture wars issue to distract liberals so the Repubs can destroy New Deal & Great Society remnants we still have : Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare.

  • William – SF

    The Doomsday Machine, Daniel Ellsberg

    • Noelle

      I hope they have him on here.

  • trite

    All three branches of government are weak–anyone can become president with no allegiance to a party or with any experience–the Congress is corrupt because of money–the judiciary is a purely political institution. Could Mr. Rather discuss?

  • Ehkzu

    Listeners who want to examine the facts about the “Rathergate” scandal should read the Wikipedia entry:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_W._Bush_military_service_controversy

    What it shows is that Rather/60m/CBS definitely made mistakes in its reportage on Bush’s upper class draft dodging–but that the right wing’s tunnel vision focus on these mistakes serves as a “Look! Squirrel!” distraction from the fact that Bush got into a “champagne” unit of the USAF that served to let the children of the rich avoid going to Vietnam, flying an interceptor that had no valid military application over there (the F-102 Bush II flew was a short-range interceptor designed to attack incoming Soviet bombers). It also helps right wingers avoid the fact that Bush II did not fulfill his military obligations and thus should never have received an honorable discharge–especially after his failing to take a mandatory physical after which he lost his flight status, almost certainly due to his needing to avoid the physical, which would have revealed his drug use.

    These are facts regardless of Rather’s failure to provide the proper provenance for the documents 60 Minutes used.

    I’m disappointed by Dan Rather’s judgment lapses in this matter. But he didn’t send tens of thousands of Americans to the Middle East to get killed or maimed in a war with the wrong country.

    • Curious

      You know that Biden and Hillary were the ones who pushed for the invasion of Iraq, whcih was authorized by Congress? You know that Barry’s unconstitutional attack on Libya, an impeachable offense, has led to the death and enslavement of millions of people?

      • Noelle

        We can also blame NATO for Libya’s destruction as well. No wonder Kim doesn’t want to back down.

  • MikeCassady

    As a Boomer and anti-Vietnam incursion advocate, I did quit college in my third year and volonteered for the draft because I did not think it morally justifiable that college kids had a way to pass the avenue to harms way to those who did not have the same advantage. It has always bothered me that Dan Rather was steamrolled out of news coverage for presenting G.W. Bush in a bad light for his contemptuous disregard for those who did not, and often could not avoid military service. I see a determined campaign by those like Bush, Trump, Cheney and many others who were not excluded from public life by Reagan’s attack on young people who spoke out in opposition to Vietnam and civil rights absuses in the resurgent Jim Crow South, to minimize the true moral meaning of their choice to avoid military service by cheating around the draft boards, rather than refusing service and accepting the consequences, or leaving the country. Dan Rather’s botched investigation of Bush’s military service record was stopped without Bush ever having to give a personal account of his questionable actions in carrying out his selective service obligations. I want those who slipped out of line so that others could take the bullets to face the public and explain themselves as service evaders while looking us in the eyes.

    • Another Mike

      The Air National Guard was a genteel way to dodge the draft. Two of my friends managed to join — one was a Republican politician’s son, the other’s dad had a personal connection to a Major in the Guard. For the first time in US history, the militia was not called to serve in America’s wars — the National Guard had been vital elements of US forces in both WW I and WW II.

      • MikeCassady

        I believe it was the case that the jets Bush trained in in the Texas Air National Guard were not of the sort that would ever have been used outside of Texas, and certainly not in Vietnam. I just want Bush, Trump, Cheney, et al, to stand up in public, perhaps in the protective corner formed by the Vietnam wall of names commemorating the Vietnam USA dead, and explain in their own words what they did when given the chance to server thier nation, and how we should see what they did by way of whatever weird theory they might concoct. What we get instead, to warn us off the subject of draft-era moral stuggles, is a story about how John McCain was a slaker for hiding out in a prison camp in North Vietnam for years and years while DT was grabbing girl-parts and going to the hair dresser. Or, a “fake”pile of patently false stories distributed by the orchestrated “Swift Boat” political group formed to oppose John Kerry in his bid for the presidency. A number of morally creditable persons did object to military service in combat. Some left the country, others went to jail, others won the right not to server in court, and not a small number died in war doing medic, non-combatant work pulling wounded soldiers onto helicopters to get them to hospital. My grudge is against those, including Bill Clinton, who fiddled the draft boards to game their way out of the dreadful inconvenience of having to play soldier, and interrupt their college partying and “career paths.” It was a good time to hide out in the life-boats at college with the girls, just dying to be groped, since lots of other boys (like me) were away at the war, or off in Canada to get out of the Rome where there was a lot of sensible disagreement about doing as the Romans do.

  • Scott Whittaker

    Please say you wouldn’t rather

    Ah, the futility,
    Of a Democrat teaching humility
    To others, because of HIS gaffe!
    At any rate, good for a laugh,
    And to stress the blessings of comedy.

  • Scott Whittaker

    Media Research Center offered side-by-side videos of Dan Rather hounding George H.W. Bush and sucking up to Bill Clinton. It could have been shown on SNL, Rather’s leanings being so comically obvious. Talk about wagging the dog, the Left likes to make movies “based on true events” (including “Wag the Dog”) to cement in the public mind their version of memorable events. Dan Rather has been so blessed. I wonder how many have been produced by Harvey Weinstein. Easy enough to look up.

Host

Michael Krasny

Michael Krasny, PhD, has been in broadcast journalism since 1983. He was with ABC in both radio and television and migrated to public broadcasting in 1993. He has been Professor of English at San Francisco State University and also taught at Stanford, the University of San Francisco and the University of California, as well as in the Fulbright International Institutes. A veteran interviewer for the nationally broadcast City Arts and Lectures, he is the author of a number of books, including “Off Mike: A Memoir of Talk Radio and Literary Life” (Stanford University Press) “Spiritual Envy” (New World); “Sound Ideas” (with M.E. Sokolik/ McGraw-Hill); “Let There Be Laughter” (Harper-Collins) as well as the twenty-four lecture series in DVD, audio and book, “Short Story Masterpieces” (The Teaching Company). He has interviewed many of the world’s leading political, cultural, literary, science and technology figures, as well as major figures from the world of entertainment. He is the recipient of many awards and honors including the S.Y. Agnon Medal for Intellectual Achievement; The Eugene Block Award for Human Rights Journalism; the James Madison Freedom of Information Award; the Excellence in Journalism Award from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association; Career Achievement Award from the Society of Professional Journalists and an award from the Radio and Television News Directors Association. He holds a B.A. (cum laude) and M.A. from Ohio University and a PhD from the University of Wisconsin.

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