Dan Rather: “We Will Need More John McCains”

Sen. John McCain

Legendary journalist Dan Rather on the passing of John McCain (via Facebook):

America has lost one of its iconic political leaders with the passing of John McCain. He was of course a senator of distinction and a presidential candidate. Born into a storied military family, McCain first earned national attention during his years of imprisonment in Vietnam. His sacrifice, heroism and courage during that time is of a nature few, thankfully, will ever be forced to comprehend.

In the political career that followed, McCain was controversial and far from perfect. In short, he was human. But at his best, which was frequent, he echoed the highest ideals and traditions of American democracy. He voted his conscience and spoke out fiercely against the current regime.

I knew John, well enough to admire many of his qualities from up close, not well enough to call him a friend. He had many close friends and I mourn for them and his loved ones. John’s good-bye was long and brave and very public. None of that will lessen the hole he will leave behind.

I also mourn for the fact that John will not be alive to see the repudiation I believe is coming to the current degraded state of the republic. We will need more voices of conscience, more iconoclasts, and more people imbued with a service greater than that of their own greed and power. In short, we will need more John McCains.

Dan Rather To Trump: “What A President Says Can Set The Tone For The Nation At Large”

Dan Rather

While Donald Trump seems to have time to address any “fake news” story he hears about via Twitter, one topic the Trumpster has not touched on was the killing of two men who defended two teenage girls from an extreme racist in Portland.

Many say Trump hasn’t spoken on the subject because this violence was “racist on Muslim” based, not the other way around.

As the nation continues to wait for the president to acknowledge the tragedy, iconic newsman Dan Rather pens this open letter to Trump via his Facebook page:

Dear President Trump,

Their names were Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche and Ricky John Best. One was a recent college graduate. The other was an army veteran and father of four. I wish we would hear you say these names, or even just tweet them. They were brave Americans who died at the hands of someone who, when all the facts are collected, we may have every right to call a terrorist. A third brave man, Micah David-Cole Fletcher, was wounded in the knife attack.

This story may not neatly fit into a narrative you pushed on the campaign trail and that has followed you into the White House. They were not killed by an undocumented immigrant or a “radical Islamic terrorist.” They were killed in an act of civic love, facing down a man allegedly spewing hate speech directed at two teenage girls, one of whom was wearing a hijab. That man seems to have a public record of “extremist ideology” – a term issued by the Portland Police Bureau.

This “extremism” may be of a different type than gets most of your attention, or even the attention in the press. But that doesn’t make it any less serious, or deadly. And this kind of “extremism” is on the rise, especially in the wake of your political ascendency. Most people who study these sorts of things do not think that is a coincidence. I do not blame you directly for this incident. Nor do I think other people should. But what a President says, who he has around him, and the tone he sets can set the tone for the nation at large.

Perhaps Portland, Oregon is off your radar. It is, after all, a rather liberal place. It’s even a “sanctuary city.” But it is still an American city. And you are its President. Two Americans have died leaving family and friends behind. They are mourned by millions more who are also deeply worried about what might come next.

I hope you can find it worthy of your time to take notice.

Dan Rather: “The Fuse Is Lit”

Dan Rather

Legendary newsman Dan Rather took to his Facebook today to announce “the fuse is lit” for what could be a big scandal on the hands of the Trump administration and Republicans regarding the current Jeff Sessions alleged perjury debacle.

Every once in a while in Washington, the fuse is lit for what seems to be a big scandal. Much more rarely does that fuse lead to an explosion of the magnitude we are seeing with Russia and the new Administration, and frankly the Republicans in Congress. How can anybody say, with all this billowing smoke and sights of actual flames, that there is no need to at least independently investigate whether a fire is burning down the very pillars of our democracy?

The pressure is obviously starting to mount as leading Republicans are now calling for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. This comes in the wake of serious and credible evidence reported by a vigilant press that the Attorney General, mind you the top law enforcement man in the United States, perjured himself in testimony to the Senate about meeting the Russian ambassador during the election. Sessions is but the latest person close to President Trump who seems to be ensnared in a story that is more worthy of Hollywood melodrama than the reality of the governance of our country. Democrats are calling for Sessions to resign, and this story could move very quickly.

We are well past the time for any political niceties or benefits of the doubt. We need an independent and thorough investigation of Russia’s meddling in our democracy and its ties to the President and his allies. We don’t know what we don’t know. Perhaps there are perfectly innocuous reasons for why Mr Trump won’t release his tax returns, why he has continued to speak admirably about President Putin and why his aides and advisors seem to be so close to Russia. That’s why we need an investigation. If the air is to be cleared, it needs to be cleared. And if there is deep rot, it needs to be exposed. And quickly.

The press is doing an admirable job. But there is only so much it can do without such things as subpoena powers. Let’s just make this clear. This is about a foreign and hostile power trying to influence our election while being in contact with close aides to the presidential campaign that the Kremlin wanted to win. Furthermore, there are serious questions about Mr Trump’s longstanding ties to Russian money and influence peddlers. We don’t know where this might go, but it isn’t going away.

Dan Rather To Journalists: “I Know You Will Not Be Bullied Or Intimidated”

Dan Rather

Legendary newsman Dan Rather shares his thoughts on President Trump’s recent tweet demonizing the press as “the enemy of the American people.”

From Rather’s Facebook page:

I have resisted commenting on President Trump’s outrageous attack on the press with his tweet calling the media “the enemy of the American people.” It is a sentiment that is a deep betrayal of our national history. The evidence to the contrary is so overwhelming that to choose any one example is to play into the alternate reality Mr. Trump is seeking to exploit for his cynical political purposes.

My message is not for he who will not listen. Instead I wish to address his enablers, specifically those in the Republican Party who by their silence on this travesty normalize a behaviour that is antithetical to our Constitutional principles. Future generations will not look kindly on profiles in cowardice.

And to my fellow journalists, I know you will not be bullied or intimidated. Keep doing your job. Your country depends on your service. Courage.

Dan Rather: Flynn Debacle Could Be Worse Than Watergate

Veteran news anchor and iconic journalist Dan Rather writes that “Flynnghazi” could end up being worse than Watergate.

And – if this were all written up as a movie pitch, it would be seen as too “far-fetched” for Hollywood.

This has been shared over 58,000 times on Facebook:

Watergate is the biggest political scandal of my lifetime, until maybe now. It was the closest we came to a debilitating Constitutional crisis, until maybe now. On a 10 scale of armageddon for our form of government, I would put Watergate at a 9. This Russia scandal is currently somewhere around a 5 or 6, in my opinion, but it is cascading in intensity seemingly by the hour. And we may look back and see, in the end, that it is at least as big as Watergate. It may become the measure by which all future scandals are judged. It has all the necessary ingredients, and that is chilling.

When we look back at Watergate, we remember the end of the Nixon Presidency. It came with an avalanche, but for most of the time my fellow reporters and I were chasing down the story as it rumbled along with a low-grade intensity. We never were quite sure how much we would find out about what really happened. In the end, the truth emerged into the light, and President Nixon descended into infamy.

This Russia story started out with an avalanche and where we go from here no one really knows. Each piece of news demands new questions. We are still less than a month into the Trump Presidency, and many are asking that question made famous by Tennessee Senator Howard Baker those many years ago: “What did the President know, and when did he know it?” New reporting suggests that Mr. Trump knew for weeks. We can all remember the General Michael Flynn’s speech from the Republican National Convention – “Lock her up!” in regards to Hillary Clinton. If Hillary Clinton had done one tenth of what Mr. Flynn had done, she likely would be in jail. And it isn’t just Mr. Flynn, how far does this go?

The White House has no credibility on this issue. Their spigot of lies – can’t we finally all agree to call them lies – long ago lost them any semblance of credibility. I would also extend that to the Republican Congress, who has excused away the Trump Administration’s assertions for far too long.

We need an independent investigation. Damn the lies, full throttle forward on the truth. If a scriptwriter had approached Hollywood with what we are witnessing, he or she would probably have been told it was way too far-fetched for even a summer blockbuster. But this is not fiction. It is real and it is serious. Deadly serious. We deserve answers and those who are complicit in this scandal need to feel the full force of justice.

Dan Rather: “These Are Not Ordinary Times”

Dan Rather

Iconic journalist Dan Rather shared an essay this weekend via Facebook addressing his concerns regarding the nascent Trump administration’s loose relationship with the truth and the newly coined term “alternative facts.”

Here’s the full post which has now gone viral:

These are not normal times. These are extraordinary times. And extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.

When you have a spokesperson for the president of the United States wrap up a lie in the Orwellian phrase “alternative facts”…

When you have a press secretary in his first appearance before the White House reporters threaten, bully, lie, and then walk out of the briefing room without the cajones to answer a single question…

When you have a President stand before the stars of the fallen CIA agents and boast about the size of his crowds (lies) and how great his authoritarian inaugural speech was….

These are not normal times.

The press has never seen anything like this before. The public has never seen anything like this before. And the political leaders of both parties have never seen anything like this before.

What can we do? We can all step up and say simply and without equivocation. “A lie, is a lie, is a lie!” And if someone won’t say it, those of us who know that there is such a thing as the truth must do whatever is in our power to diminish the liar’s malignant reach into our society.

There is one group of people who can do a lot – very quickly. And that is Republicans in Congress. Without their support, Donald Trump’s presidency will falter. So here is what I think everyone in the press must do. If you are interviewing a Paul Ryan, a Mitch McConnell, or any other GOP elected official, the first question must be “what will you do to combat the lying from the White House?” If they dodge and weave, keep with the follow ups. And if they refuse to give a satisfactory answer, end the interview.

Facts and the truth are not partisan. They are the bedrock of our democracy. And you are either with them, with us, with our Constitution, our history, and the future of our nation, or you are against it. Everyone must answer that question.

Dan Rather On Election 2016: “Nevermind? We Should Mind – And Not Forget”

From a legendary journalist who’s seen more than his fair share of elections, Dan Rather pens this essay as the end of Campaign 2016 looms on the horizon.

A shameful campaign winds up with a shameful final chapter. How fitting. How disappointing. And how rallying it must be for us to strive for a far different national narrative going forward. After bombshell headlines by FBI Director James Comey – it’s, oh nevermind. But we should mind – very much. And we shouldn’t forget.

I suspect we shall hear a lot of, “oh nevermind” after November 8.

From GOP supporters of Donald Trump who backed him for a cynical political calculus – they may want to say nevermind. But we should mind – and not forget.

From far too many of the press who gave Trump an open mic and treated his many serious transgressions with indifference and false equivalence – they may want to say nevermind. But we should mind – and not forget.

From those who whipped up xenophobia and misogyny in the name of rallying the base – they may want to say nevermind. But we should mind – and not forget.

From those who suppressed the vote and were called out on it – they may say nevermind. But we should mind – and not forget.

From those who fanned the flames of lies and persecuted the truth – they may want to say nevermind. But we should mind – and not forget.

I suspect historians will find fault with many and virtue with few when they look back at this election. But let us not descend into cynicism. The future of this country is indeed at stake. But even with the vote on November 8, the chapters of our American story will be written in ink not yet dry. Our destiny will depend on how we act going forward. Will we buy into the “nevermind” crowd, or will we resolve, together, to demand better of our elected officials, our press, and ourselves?

Dan Rather On Donald Trump: “A New Low And Unprecedented In The History Of American Presidential Politics”

In a post on his Facebook page, legendary journalist Dan Rather eviscerates Republican presidential nominee over his controversial call for “2nd Amendment people” to shoot Hillary Clinton should she become president.

No trying-to-be objective and fair journalist, no citizen who cares about the country and its future can ignore what Donald Trump said today. When he suggested that “The Second Amendment People” can stop Hillary Clinton he crossed a line with dangerous potential. By any objective analysis, this is a new low and unprecedented in the history of American presidential politics. This is no longer about policy, civility, decency or even temperament. This is a direct threat of violence against a political rival. It is not just against the norms of American politics, it raises a serious question of whether it is against the law. If any other citizen had said this about a Presidential candidate, would the Secret Service be investigating?

Candidate Trump will undoubtably issue an explanation; some of his surrogates are already engaged in trying to gloss it over, but once the words are out there they cannot be taken back. That is what inciting violence means.

To anyone who still pretends this is a normal election of Republican against Democrat, history is watching. And I suspect its verdict will be harsh. Many have tried to do a side-shuffle and issue statements saying they strongly disagree with his rhetoric but still support the candidate. That is becoming woefully insufficient. The rhetoric is the candidate.

This cannot be treated as just another outrageous moment in the campaign. We will see whether major newscasts explain how grave and unprecedented this is and whether the headlines in tomorrow’s newspapers do it justice. We will soon know whether anyone who has publicly supported Trump explains how they can continue to do.

We are a democratic republic governed by the rule of law. We are an honest, fair and decent people. In trying to come to terms with today’s discouraging development the best I can do is to summon our greatest political poet Abraham Lincoln for perspective:

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

Lincoln used these stirring words to end his First Inaugural Address. It was the eve of the Civil War and sadly his call for sanity, cohesion and peace was met with horrific violence that almost left our precious Union asunder. We cannot let that happen again.