Dan Rather on Skepticism AND Optimism in this “New Age of Media”

Written by on June 15, 2016 in Films & TV, Internet, Media & Arts, Social Media with 0 Comments


The legendary journalist says that he is “an optimist by nature.” But he also cautions that in this new age of information we need to be skeptical.

After just over a decade post his much publicized exit as news anchor and managing editor for the CBS Evening News, one might expect that Dan Rather would fade quietly into the annals of news reporting. But even at 84 years of age, Rather is determined not to be left out of the loop when it comes to embracing and participating in this new age of media. In fact he’s seized this burgeoning platform in big ways!

In my exclusive interview with the man who has covered every history making news story of the last half century, we discussed everything from the speed of technology and the perils and promise of the digital revolution, to the anomalous nature of the current presidential campaign.



Rather was clear in articulating how demonstrably unsubstantial and bizarre this campaign has been to-date. “I lament the fact that so much of the campaign so far, has been at such a low level,” he said.

Still, he urges the American public to not give up on what he fervently believes to be our constitutional right to democracy and freedom. But he cautions that we must engage our voice and demand that issues of significance be discussed and followed up on, or otherwise suffer the consequences to our individual and collective peril.

Rather also spoke out about the public’s tendency toward the titillation about the “horse race” aspects of political debate and less so about the issues that should be in the forefront.

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Dan Rather now hosts “The Big Interview” on Cable Network AXS TV.

Now that we’re looking in the rearview mirror of yet another unfathomable and tragic event with the recent Orlando mass shooting, the candidates can’t help but seize the moment (and not waste a good crisis). But how long will it take for the discussion about this latest tragedy to revert back to the familiar theme of name calling and back biting that has made this campaign so distastefully exploited?

Though tempting to spend the majority of our time musing over the oddities of this presidential campaign, we managed to give equal play to other critical topics of substance, not the least of which is the necessity to keep up with the pace of news and the way it’s being delivered. “It’s not just everyday, but every nanosecond the world is becoming increasingly more digital and more mobile…The acceleration of the pace of change in the digital world, and the mobile way that people get their news is really awe inspiring.”

This optimistic view has kept Rather relevant and eager to participate in this new brand of media culture. And participate he has. On June 1st, Rather made a Facebook post that has (as of this writing) been shared by north of 86 thousand people and still growing.

When I asked Rather to explain his vehement commentary about Trump’s “fusillade against the press,” he said, “For a presidential candidate, this [treatment of journalists] is unacceptable behavior. It needs to be stated…a free and independent press… is the red beating heart of freedom and democracy.”

It should be no surprise that in typical Rather fashion, he’s been all over the #Orlandoshooting story. And justifiably so. In another Facebook post dated June 12 he said, “As I reflect on where we are in the wake of the Orlando tragedy, I once again wish to summon the invaluable advice of the great Edward R. Murrow – “steady.” Steady does not mean complacent. It does not mean cowardice, or passivity, or a lack of a resolve to act. It is to realize that action without thought is too often a road to folly and mistakes. It is to remember that tragedies, even on the scope and scale of this horror, cannot be divorced from the larger currents and contexts of our world. And it is to pray that our leaders use wisdom rather than recklessness as they weigh their response.”

And what about other big headline making news stories? In the aftermath of the tragic death of Prince on April 21, and the news that followed some weeks later about his passing, due apparently to an opioid overdose, Rather had this to say: “The public at-large is barely aware, if they are aware at all, that the problem [of opioid addiction] is growing and it’s only when it sort of explodes. And in terms of exposure like something like Prince’s death that so many people say, ‘Gosh, I never heard of that’ or ‘I never realized that [this] is as widespread as it is.’”

On the matter of skepticism. This is a sticking point that Rather doesn’t want any to disregard. “There’s never been a time when we need skepticism as much as we do today. …I want to be very clear – not cynicism. Never cynicism, but skepticism….Be skeptical of what politicians say of course, but be skeptical of what various news sources say.” He then adds, “A lifetime of news has taught me – and it’s never more useful than it is today, to keep in mind that frequently the first things you hear – let’s say on a big breaking news story…many of them are going to prove to be wrong…That’s the kind of skepticism I’m suggesting. You get an alert on your device and it comes up ‘breaking news’…Well don’t automatically assume that because it’s up and labeled ‘breaking news’ that it’s true.”

Despite Dan Rather’s criticism about what we face in the throws of peril as a news consuming public, he remains eternally optimistic. “The benefits in terms of education and understanding one another better, to say nothing of culture better, in the medium and long range, I think it’s overwhelmingly positive.”

Tune in to my full interview with Dan Rather HERE.

Learn about Dan Rather's exciting project with Mind Body Network HERE.

Get Dan Rather's new ebook Lessons from the Field: Everything I Learned About Life I Learned from Reporting HERE.

*(Audio Interview Correction: The Big Interview – Legends Lost is now available on-demand via iTunes and not YouTube).

Visit Dan Rather’s website News and Guts and official Facebook page.

About the Author:

alexisheadshotv2Alexis Brooks is the #1 best-selling author of Conscious Musings, writer/editor for CLN and host of Higher Journeys Radio. Alexis brings over 30 years of broadcast media experience to CLN. For over half of that time, Alexis has dedicated her work to the medium of alternative journalism, having researched and reported on the many aspects and angles of metaphysics, spirituality and new thought concepts.

This article and its accompanying media was originally created and produced by Higher Journeys in association Conscious Life News and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Alexis Brooks, HigherJourneys.com and ConsciousLifeNews.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this Copyright/Creative Commons statement.


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