While Dan Rather is probably one of the most influential journalists in recent history, I have a hard time putting him in my list of my all time greats. In fact, to me, he’s not near the top of the list at all.
Maybe it all started when Walter Cronkite clearly didn’t endorse Dan. Not embracing Connie Chung didn’t help either. Although being an inspiration for the R.E.M. song “What’s the frequency, Kenneth?” is certainly points in his favor.
It was Bernard Goldberg, one of my favorite journalists in the world, who opened my eyes in his book, Bias: An CBS Insider’s Look at how the media distort the news. There you saw a new side of Dan – a dangerous side. An arrogant, paranoid side. A side that should not be the most important journalistic voice of a network.
But in reality, it was his role in the “Memogate” scandal that turned me forever sour. Before this incident, it was all innuendo and hearsay. But the Memogate scandal was real, and it was extremely disappointing to see an American icon at the forefront due to just what Bernard Goldberg accused him of – having a political agenda. What he knew, what he didn’t know – well, we don’t know. But verification is key. Two sources are needed. Robert Redford, in his interview below, knows this. Why shouldn’t Dan Rather know this?
Oh, he knows. But a juicy story can make us skip ahead of schedule. Redford mentioned that as well.
Which leads us to this post about journalism movies by Robert Redford aka my favorite baseball player, Roy Hobbs. Redford has made multiple journalism movies in the past and he usually does them so well. He is a tremendous actor, his first foray into the field as Bob Woodward in All the President’s Men is one of the best performances of his career.
His new movie, Truth, finally details the Memogate scandal. I have yet to see it, but I look forward to doing so. In this blog post by Adweek, the site discusses whether each movie he made had a positive or negative influence on the field of journalism. I disagree with their declaration about Truth, because in my eyes, it doesn’t give the industry a black eye to discuss when an icon made a terrible mistake. Don’t hide from it. Instead, accept that it happened and realize that it is unacceptable to happen again.
His last few movies about journalism haven’t done well. But never count the Sundance Kid out.