In a move that threatens to destroy irony meters everywhere, an online webinar outlet is hosting a disgraced 20th century newsman to “guide you through the 21st century state of journalism.” The online course is titled “Dan Rather on Journalism & Finding the Truth in the News,” with the subtitle “Learn to ask the right questions & tell captivating stories. Practical advice for journalists & avid news consumers.” Fittingly, you can participate in the class for the low, low price of $10 — a 93% discount!
You might remember that Mr. Rather had his own brush with dishonesty when he made up a story about President George W. Bush during his reelection campaign in 2004. All of a sudden, during a critical time that election season, newly uncovered memos were “found” that alleged that Bush had failed to fulfill his duties while in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War. Well, if by “found,” you really meant “forged,” then yeah. The memos were faxed to CBS News producer Mary Mapes, after which the originals were supposedly burned.
Even the faxed copies of the memos revealed that they were blatant forgeries. That didn’t stop Dan Rather and his producer, though. They proceeded with the report that Bush had disobeyed orders, slacked off on the job, and was generally considered a ne’er-do-well.
Mapes was eventually fired and Rather resigned. That hasn’t kept Rather from insisting that the story was legitimate. He has given several interviews stating that the memos are real, and even if they’re not, the story is true anyway, so shut up, or something.
Rather, of course, sued everyone under the sun at CBS. The fact that his lawsuit was dismissed has no bearing on his claims of truthfulness.
With all that as a background, you can now learn truth lessons from this 20th century newsman for a much more confusing 21st century full of “fake news”!
Whether you’re an avid consumer of the news or just beginning your journalism career, renowned news anchor Dan Rather shares his first-hand experiences to guide you through the 21st century state of journalism.
In this course, Dan teaches invaluable foundations on great writing, the essentials of telling a good story, and how to remain calm and captivating on camera — useful skills for anyone fascinated by the power of the news or anyone who wants to contribute to serious journalism. Dan’s rich history and extensive knowledge of journalism, paired with practical, hands-on exercises, creates a unique learning opportunity and rare insight from an American legend.
Dan believes that a truly free press is the beating heart of democracy and he has put this belief into practice with a career spanning over 60 years in the news industry and over 20 years as the CBS Nightly News anchor. Using stories and advice from the field, Dan peels back the curtain on what it takes to create and deliver impactful news and how this process has changed over time from the Civil Rights Movement to the 2016 election.
A leader in the industry to this day, Dan Rather explains how objective truth is in peril more than ever before. Moreover, he provides actions you can take now to help ensure that journalism continues to serve its key role in a well-functioning democracy.
Lest you think the authors are taking license with Rather’s connection to the truth, he’s been all over the place lately talking about how honesty is in peril in our current political landscape. Without a hint of shame or self-awareness, he wrote on his Facebook page:
A lie, is a lie, is a lie. 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.
So this statement (see attached article) from the editor in chief of the Wall Street Journal about how his paper will report on Donald Trump’s potential (likely?) future lies is deeply disturbing. 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.
Defending his own lies with semantics and euphemisms, no problem. But maybe future lies by someone he doesn’t like? THAT’S BEYOND THE PALE.
One of the taglines used in the course offering is “Learn how the news is made from one of the most recognized names in journalism.”
I, for one, can’t wait to hear how Dan Rather made the news about the National Guard memos.