Dear Dan Rather & my fellow Americans
I’ve never written you before, but, maybe I should have. I should have dropped a line to you and: Andy Rooney; Ed Bradley; Mike Wallace; Morley Safer; Gwen Ifill; Max Robinson; and Jim Vance at some point. I have expressed thanks, via tweet, note and/or handshake to: Doreen Gentzler, Melissa Harris Perry, Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes, Joy-Ann Reid, Charlayne Hunter Gault, Leon Harris, Craig Melvin, Sheinelle Jones & the news-truth-comedians like Trevor Noah. I owe a thank you to Eugene Robinson, Willie Geist, Nicolle Wallace & other voices who lead with truth.
I mention my regret, because, I have become absolutely disgusted with the nonsense described as news today. The fraudulent & unchecked behaviors of people, and networks, that spread disinformation and outright lies have gone mainstream. Perhaps, if more of us were more explicit in our acknowledging good work and understanding of what sound journalism should be, we’d have fewer people proud of being the opposite. Edward R. Murrow, Joseph Pulitzer and the deceased icons I referenced are spittin’ mad at how their craft is diminished daily and threatened by an American president.
Grew up on the News
As a teen, I admittedly, spent some of my earnings (a modest allowance and my paper route) on Mad Magazines and, on occasion, the National Star and/or National Enquirer. But, I knew Mad was parody and the Star/Enquirer was comedy & salacious headlines leading the reader to fake news (the phrase isn’t new). FOX sacrificed to get their share — but, they know they lie. They just don’t care.
I greatly respect reputable journalists — print & broadcast. I knew the difference. I shared a bit about that in a previous piece, Art Right On Time.
Mr. Rather, I was compelled to write you as I felt your pain in this recent post:
Thank you for acknowledging that, #DanRather, however, before we had an administration that was, “morally and emotionally adrift from common decency”, Republiteas had a candidate with those same credentials. His opponents shared similar sentiments about how unseemly the candidate was — there’s video and printed evidence of their assessments. Yet, once he became the nominee, they embraced him — boldly, in public (even, if they dry heaved in private).
Since he’s been elected and has had his domestic and foreign shenanigans exposed, the same critics — in his own party — have sheepishly towed the party line. They have been willing to sacrifice/ignore/compromise their own sense of morality & common decency for his sake. And, for what? An amoral tax scam masked as reform? Overturning Roe V Wade? Supreme Court appointments to further compromise our nation’s direction, by creating a partisan application of the law, instead of respecting the law & checks & balance? Appointing more federal judges to tilt states laws to benefit a chosen, wealthier America? Or, maybe they really want to make America just great for white people.
Face it, this president has gone from racist dog whistles to full-throated racist hog calling and yodeling. And, the part of America that hears it, loves it. And, the part of America who are shocked and saddened by the bigotry, are, apparently, comfortable enough with the racism to cherry-pick the parts of him they support.
What’s most egregious is that his illegalities and blatant disregard for constitutional norms & fiscal policy (the “frames” of republicans and their branch known as the tea party) & unapologetic disrespect for the institution of marriage and family values (once the moral standard of Republiteas) remain OK in the eyes of some beholders. Queue evangelicals who accept some of his sins aa they vote for all of him.
News Without Clues
Mr. Rather, I grew up to believe that journalists spoke the TRUTH. Today, we have practicing attorneys, representing the U.S. President — representing ALL Americans, by extension — proclaim that “Truth isn’t Truth”. He can explain that it wasn’t his intent, however, his client and administration have been fact-checked ad nauseam. They LIE. They have multiple Pinocchio noses of lies. And it has, basically, taken journalism, pundits and people within his party almost two years before finally succumbing to using the L word. I know, our elders once thought one of the worst things you could call somebody is a liar. But, there comes a time when you must speak the truth and call lies, lies.
But, on one news network, most of its talent & a supporting cast of alternative fact-based independent journalistic entertainers will lie FOR & with him, without blinking. When will journalists of integrity be honest about those who are without integrity? At some point, for the good of the sector send for the good of society, speaking out for truth is a mandate. We have now seen far to many people have been groomed to trust fake news. What’s up with that?
Days of Reckoning
The United States flag was used as a prop by the occupier of the White House, who also serves as commander-in-chief. The banner of America is saluted and defended by those who fight for this country, along with civilians and newcomers who are sworn in as citizens.
The use of patriotism as a prop has been really effective by this administration. America’s fabric has been sullied by one who bullies for allegiances and pouts about critics. Lady Liberty is embarrassed. Folk have held onto a mythical belief that athletes exercising their constitutional rights to critique injustices centered on killing Black people (in the land that boasts justice for all) is bad.
Once again, this administration has chosen to place patriotism above life, itself. The family of Senator John Kelly, had to be shocked, in the midst of their grief, as a sitting president continues a fight with their father & husband. It wasn’t enough to disrespect Senator McCain’s service & his capture, while he lived , he extended White House condolences via a tweet. He had to be guilted into doing a little more — including the flag at half-staff fiasco. Let’s not forget the disrespect for the Gold Star family and other atrocious acts brought to us by the candidate, now president.
Little, Too Late
Mr. Rather, I don’t know how you and journalists — of good character — can stomach the shameful displays of nonsense reported daily. It must grieve you and others, who see how journalism has been debased by the disreputable and defamed by the deplorable. And, with all that, we know know why the National Enquirer caught-and-killed stories (buddies of a feather). Calm commentary has been the message. A fight for integrity should make people more vocal. I get the importance of being balanced — but, when you are dealing with one who is clearly unbalanced, truth must prevail.
We can only BE best, when we really understand the diffeeence between best and less than best. We need to loudly denounce the worst, too. We need your truth to be loud truths, Mr. Rather. We need you to remember that anything that isn’t the truth is a lie, America. Lies shouldn’t be tolerated by those who work for you — especially politicians. If you really want America to be great, Americans, you must denounce lies — no more alternative facts. Call a lie a lie. Don’t accept the Enquirer & Fox News, in their exposed bias and spin, as fact-based journalism. They aren’t. Compromising reason and truth is s choice. Choose how much you want to compromise reason and honesty for party preferences. You shouldn’t — but, some will. Please, in the name of dignity and common sense, recognize that this is not a game. Lives are at risk. Choose integrity over partisanship. Our nation depends on it. For a great America, we must say enough is enough.