Dan Rather understands that the role of the press is to find out if our elected officials are telling the truth or not and to call them out if they are found to be lying.
So when Wall Street Journal editor in chief Gerard Baker told NBC host Chuck Todd that his publication will refrain from calling out Trump when he lies, it sent shock-waves through the journalism world.
“I’d be careful about using the word, ‘lie,'” Baker said. “‘Lie’ implies much more than just saying something that’s false. It implies a deliberate intent to mislead…I think if you start ascribing a moral intent, as it were, to someone by saying that they’ve lied, I think you run the risk that you look like you are, like you’re not being objective.”
And then Baker excused his decision by claiming that the media didn’t call out Hillary Clinton’s lies.
The fact, however, is that they did call our her lies. It’s just that Trump lied far more and even repeated things that have already been repeatedly debunked.
Baker’s decision especially concerns Dan Rather, who is a legendary journalist who anchored the CBS News desk for many years.
In a post written on Facebook, Rather shamed Baker and stated that journalists have a duty to get to the truth and to call a lie a lie.
“A lie, is a lie, is a lie,” Rather began. “Journalism, as I was taught it, is a process of getting as close to some valid version of the truth as is humanly possible. And one of my definitions of news is information that the powerful don’t want you to know.”
It is not the proper role of journalists to meet lies—especially from someone of Mr. Trump’s stature and power—by hiding behind semantics and euphemisms. Our role is to call it as we see it, based on solid reporting. When something is, in fact, a demonstrable lie, it is our responsibility to say so.
Rather continued by expressing his respect for the Wall Street Journal, but declared that “this is a gut check moment for the press.”
We are being confronted by versions of what are claimed to be “the truth” that resemble something spewed out by a fertilizer-spreader in a wind tunnel. And there is every indication that this will only continue in the Tweets and statements of the man who will now hold forth from behind the Great Seal of the President of the United States.
Some journalists and publications will rise to the occasion. Some will not. You as the paying, subscribing public, can use your leverage and pocketbooks to keep those who should be honest brokers of information, well, honest.
Here’s the full post via Facebook.
Dan Rather is absolutely right. The press has a duty to find the truth and report it. They also have a duty to call a lie a lie. If Donald Trump says something completely false, he should be publicly called out for it. He shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it. But by using different terms and allowing the reader to make the determination, what’s the point of having a press if they won’t actually do their jobs by identifying what the truth is? The press is vital now more than ever before as we enter a post-truth era. News organizations should be pushing back and fighting for their existence and the only way they can continue to exist is if they do their damn jobs. Failure to do so will only cause the public to lose faith in the media even more.
Featured image via screenshot