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Dan Rather's Liberal Bias

20 Years On the CBS Evening News
Dan Rather's Outrageous Liberal Bias

Dan Rather replaced Walter Cronkite as anchor of the then-top rated CBS Evening News on March 9, 1981. Since then, his on-air liberal bias has become the stuff of legend. For Rather’s 20th anniversary in 2001, the MRC compiled some of Rather’s most quotable bias, along with illustrations of his nearly-nonsensical “Ratherisms” and his equally-comical denials of liberal bias. As ABC’s Peter Jennings and NBC’s Tom Brokaw reached their 20th anniversaries in 2003, Rather was still on CBS each night, a longtime liberal advocate masquerading as a journalist.

March 2005: After the embarrassing scandal involving Dan Rather’s use of forged documents in a one-sided 60 Minutes hit piece aimed at President Bush just before the 2004 presidential election, CBS announced Rather would leave the CBS Evening News on March 9, 2005, a year earlier than planned. To mark the end of Rather’s liberal reign, the Media Research Center compiled The Dan Rather Files, an exhaustive text and video library.

Dan Rather

Dan Rather

Dan Rather


30 Straight Years of NASA Cuts: “There’s certainly been talk that in recent years that Congress’s attitude and, for that matter, the attitude of a succession of Presidents beginning with President Nixon, running through Carter, Reagan, Bush first and President Clinton and now President George W. Bush, there’s been more cost cutting that has resulted in safety cutting.”
— CBS’s live coverage on February 4, 2003 of a memorial for Columbia’s crew. Moments later, CBS space expert Bill Harwood corrected Rather, pointing out that “after Challenger, the budgets really ramped up.”

Dan’s Distorted Poll Reporting: “The President calls the tax cut necessary. Democrats call it a campaign for the wealthy. So far, it’s a problematic sell for the President. In a CBS News/New York Times poll out tonight, less than half the respondents thought the Bush tax cut would actually help the economy.”
— May 13, 2003 CBS Evening News. Rather failed to report that the poll he cited showed twice as many said tax cuts would help the economy (41 percent) than said new tax cuts would hurt (19 percent).

Bush’s Partisan Stance on Global Warming: “President Bush has been criticized at home and abroad for pulling out of the international treaty to curb global warming, the Kyoto Treaty. Now, CBS’s John Roberts reports, conservationists, environmentalists and some others are taking the President to task for what they say was the cynical changing of a major report on global warming. They say it was altered to put hardball partisan politics over hard independent science.” 
CBS Evening News, June 19, 2003.

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Campaigning Against Free Speech: “In tonight’s Eye on America, CBS gives you an in-depth look at the sudden revival of congressional interest in legislation that’s been killed more times than Dracula: Legislation for serious campaign finance reform. In the wake of the Enron fiasco, will Congress finally put its votes where its mouth is?”
CBS Evening News, January 25, 2002.

“Honest” Bill Revisited: “I think the fact that someone has told a lie, even a big lie or maybe several big lies over a lifetime, does not mean that they’re an inherently dishonest person....I believe in redemption and that Bill Clinton – is he an honest person? I think he is an honest person. Did he lie? Yes, he lied, and on those occasions he was dishonest.”
— Appearing on the Feb. 7, 2002 Imus in the Morning radio show defending his comment from May 15, 2001 on FNC’s The O’Reilly Factor that Clinton was “an honest man” and that “you can be an honest person and lie about any number of things.”

Cheering Anti-Free Speech Law: “On Capitol Hill, it took seven years, but the shame of Enron finally got Congress to pass a campaign finance reform bill today. The legislation bans soft money, the unregulated special interest donations to national political parties. But it doubles the allowable hard money with donations to individual candidates now to be capped at $2,000.”
CBS Evening News, March 20, 2002.

Rather’s Rather Ridiculous Rant: “It’s an obscene comparison, and I’m not sure I like it, but there was a time, in South Africa, where people would put flaming tires around peoples’ necks if they dissented. And in some ways, the fear is that you’ll be necklaced here, you’ll have the flaming tire of lack of patriotism put around your neck. Now it’s that fear that keeps journalists from asking the toughest of the tough questions and to continue to bore in on the tough questions so often. And again, I’m humbled to say, I do not except myself from this criticism.”
— Appearing on the BBC’s Newsnight program, May 16, 2002.

Ashcroft Saved Himself & Let Others Fly in Harm’s Way: “Increasingly, there are important questions that need to be asked...For example, the Attorney General of the United States before, just before September 11th, started inexplicably taking private aircraft to places where normally the Attorney General wouldn’t take private aircraft, you know, government planes. Well, that would indicate that somebody somewhere was getting pretty worried, but if you’re going to share that with the Attorney General, you know, why wasn’t it shared with the public at large?”
— On the Imus in the Morning radio program, simulcast on MSNBC, May 22, 2002.

Reality Check:
“There was a personal threat assessment done by security agencies at Justice, and it was determined that since John Ashcroft is such a polarizing figure, that the threat assessment against him would be high, and that shortly after he was sworn in, he started taking government planes all the time. It was recommended for his own security....It had nothing at all to do with any terrorist threat.”
— NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski later on the same program.

Pushing For More Spending: “Senior Americans who saw retirement savings evaporate in the Wall Street meltdown have another financial headache now. It turns out it was all talk and no action with the President and Congress again today on passing any version of Medicare prescription drug coverage.”
CBS Evening News, July 23, 2002.

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Bush’s Anti-Uniter Cabinet: "When you nominate someone to be Attorney General... who you know is going to raise questions, rightly or wrongly, justifiably or otherwise about race relations, quote ‘a hardline stance on a woman’s right to choose’ on abortion; when you appoint somebody, nominate someone, to be head of the Interior Department who says, ‘Listen, it’s alright for people who own private land to pollute,’ I’m not saying that’s right or wrong. I am saying that a lot are going to say, ‘Wait a minute, this is not uniter-divider country.’"
— Jan. 15, 2001 Late Show with David Letterman.

Clinton and Bush Abortion Executive Order Contrasts: "This was President Bush’s first day at the office and he did something to quickly please the right flank in his party: He re-instituted an anti-abortion policy that had been in place during his father’s term and the Reagan presidency but was lifted during the Clinton years."
— Jan. 22, 2001.


"On the anniversary of Roe versus Wade President Clinton fulfills a promise, supporting abortion rights....It was 20 years ago today, the United States Supreme Court handed down its landmark abortion rights ruling, and the controversy hasn’t stopped since. Today, with the stroke of a pen, President Clinton delivered on his campaign promise to cancel several anti-abortion regulations of the Reagan-Bush years."
— Jan. 22, 1993.

Treating Liberal Spin as Fact: "President Bush tonight outlines his cut-federal-programs-to-get-a-tax-cut plan to Congress and the nation. Democrats will then deliver their televised response, which basically says Mr. Bush’s ideas are risky business, endangering among other things, Social Security and Medicare."
— February 27, 2001.

Choosing Cash Over Clean Air: “President Bush insisted today that he was not caving in to big money contributors, big-time lobbyists, and overall industry pressure when he broke a campaign promise to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. But the air was thick today with accusations from people who believe that’s exactly what happened.”
CBS Evening News, March 14, 2001.

Kids Sacrificed for Big Tax Cuts: “On Capitol Hill, the Republican-controlled House voted mostly along party lines tonight to pass President Bush’s federal budget blueprint. This includes his big tax cut plan, partly bankrolled, critics say, through cuts in many federal aid programs for children and education.”
CBS Evening News, March 28, 2001.

Another Environmental Rollback: “President Bush is ordering another rollback, another reversal in U.S. environmental policy. This time it amounts to abandoning support for an international treaty designed to reduce emissions linked to global warming. CBS’s John Roberts has more about the heat this is generating, environmental and political.”
CBS Evening News, March 28, 2001.

Rather: Clinton “An Honest Man”

CBS's Dan RatherBill O’Reilly: “I want to ask you flat out, do you think President Clinton’s an honest man?”
Dan Rather: “Yes, I think he’s an honest man.”
O’Reilly: “Do you, really?”
Rather: “I do.”
O’Reilly: “Even though he lied to Jim Lehrer’s face about the Lewinsky case?”
Rather: “Who among us has not lied about something?”
O’Reilly: “Well, I didn’t lie to anybody’s face on national television. I don’t think you have, have you?”
Rather: “I don’t think I ever have. I hope I never have. But, look, it’s one thing – “
O’Reilly: “How can you say he’s an honest guy then?”
Rather: “Well, because I think he is. I think at core he’s an honest person. I know that you have a different view. I know that you consider it sort of astonishing anybody would say so, but I think you can be an honest person and lie about any number of things.”
— Exchange on Fox News Channel’s The O’Reilly Factor, May 15, 2001.

“Uncle Cheney” Really In Charge:

Rather: “I think by any reasonable analysis that George Bush is off to a pretty good start with his presidency.”
David Letterman: “You were pleased with how he handled the situation in China? You thought that went alright?”
Rather: “I’m pausing only because you said ‘the way he handled it.’ I’m not sure he handled it because, remember you have Uncle Cheney who runs an awful lot of things around there. No, I think that was handled very steadily. He pulled some good people around him. But now comes the difficult part: the stands he’s taken on the environment; his tax program, the details of which we do not yet know – all of these things have gotten him a reputation, justifiably or not, of running an administration that’s further to the right than most people expected.”
— Exchange on CBS’s Late Show, June 7, 2001.

CBS’s “Dumb-Ass” Anchorman: “Look, we’ve made mistakes in the past. Somebody wrote in the paper the other day that I was, quote, ‘boneheaded.’ Well, of course, it’s a matter of record I’m boneheaded, said, ‘well, this is bizarre.’ Well, of course I’m bizarre, you know, we’ve known that for a long time...Somebody, I don’t know if he put it exactly this way, but he said, ‘well, you know, it’s a dumb-ass thing he’s doing.’ Well, you know, I’ve been a dumb-ass all my life.”
— On the July 19, 2001 Imus in the Morning discussing his refusal to cover the scandal surrounding Democratic Congressman Gary Condit until his weekday CBS Evening News aired a single story on July 18.

I Can’t Figure This Out, So Go Buy a Paper: “Obviously, this is a very complicated subject. It’s the kind of subject that, frankly, radio and television have some difficulty with because it requires such depth into the complexities of it. So we can with, I think, impunity recommend that if you’re really interested in this you’ll want to read in detail one of the better newspapers tomorrow. This has been a CBS News Special Report.”
— Concluding CBS’s coverage of President Bush’s August 9, 2001 stem cell speech after only 53 seconds of analysis right before his network aired Big Brother 2.

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Bush "Hard Right" Too: "Now to Bill Whitaker covering George W. Bush’s talking the right talk, as in Republican hard right, to try to take out Steve Forbes in Iowa and focus on eliminating John McCain in New Hampshire."
— January 23, 2000.

Pushing Gun Control: "President Clinton met today with congressional leaders, pushing them for new gun control laws in response to more shocking gun violence. It’s been a week since a six-year-old Michigan girl was shot dead by another six-year-old. As CBS’s Diana Olick reports, the little girl’s death has many wondering what, if anything, more can be done and asking why Congress hasn’t done anything for months."
— March 7, 2000.

Castro Cares about Cubans: "While Fidel Castro, and certainly justified on his record, is widely criticized for a lot of things, there is no question that Castro feels a very deep and abiding connection to those Cubans who are still in Cuba and, I recognize this might be controversial, but there’s little doubt in my mind that Fidel Castro was sincere when he said, ‘Listen, we really want this child back here.’"
CBS News live coverage of the Elian raid, April 22, 2000.

Gee, Thanks Dan: "You may want to note that Cheney is referring to Clinton Gore, not Clinton and Gore, in effect making Clinton Al Gore’s first name: Clinton Gore." — Dan Rather during Dick Cheney’s acceptance speech after Cheney said "We’re all a little weary of the Clinton-Gore routine...it is time for them to go,"
— August 2, 2000 CBS News Republican convention coverage.

Greeting Both Parties with Liberal Spin: "Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore officially introduced his history-making running mate today, Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut. History-making because Lieberman is of Jewish heritage and faith. The two started running right away. In their first joint appearance they gave a preview of the Gore-Lieberman fight-back, come-back strategy. Their message: They represent the future, not the past, and they are the ticket of high moral standards most in tune with real mainstream America."
— August 8, 2000.


"In the presidential campaign, the official announcement and first photo-op today of Republican George Bush and his running mate Richard Cheney. Democrats were quick to portray the ticket as quote ‘two Texas oilmen’ because Cheney was chief of a big Dallas-based oil supply conglomerate. They also blast Cheney’s voting record in Congress as again, quote, ‘outside the American mainstream’ because of Cheney’s votes against the Equal Rights for Women Amendment, against a woman’s right to choose abortion -- against abortion as Cheney prefers to put it -- and Cheney’s votes against gun control. Republicans see it all differently, most of them hailing Bush’s choice and Cheney’s experience."
— July 25, 2000.

No Need for Proof Before Alleging GOP Dirty Tricks: "Al Gore must stand and deliver here tonight as the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee, and now Gore must do so against the backdrop of a potentially damaging, carefully orchestrated story leak about President Clinton. The story is that the Republican-backed special prosecutor, Robert Ray, Ken Starr’s successor, has a new grand jury looking into possible criminal charges against the President growing out of Mr. Clinton’s sex life."
— August 17, 2000, the final day of the Democratic convention. (The next day, a Carter-appointed federal judge revealed he had inadvertently leaked the news.)

Mean and Nasty George W. Bush: "On one bit of campaign meanness and nastiness in particular, George Bush now says he’s sorry his gutter language and personal attack was picked up by a microphone at a campaign stop yesterday, but he refuses to apologize for the substance of his comment. Bush’s remark was about Adam Clymer, a New York Times reporter whose coverage he doesn’t like."
— September 5, 2000.

Gore a victim: "You’ve been part of an administration that one can argue has presided over the greatest economic, sustained economic boom in the history of the country. But here you are in the last week of the presidential campaign, in which even by your own estimate you’re locked neck and neck with the other guy. Why is that?....But surely sometime at night the two of you talking, you must have said, maybe one to the other, ‘Why is this happening to us?’"
— To Al and Tipper Gore in taped interview shown November 1, 2000.

Florida Secretary of State Has No Legal Authority: "Florida’s Republican Secretary of State is about to announce the winner -- as she sees it and she decrees it -- of the state’s potentially decisive 25 electoral votes."
"The believed certification -- as the Republican Secretary of State sees it."
"She will certify -- as she sees it -- who gets Florida’s 25 electoral votes."
"The certification -- as the Florida Secretary of State sees it and decrees it -- is being signed."
— November 26, 2000.

George W. Bush Didn’t Really Win: "Good evening. Texas Governor George Bush tonight will assume the mantle and the honor of President-elect. This comes 24 hours after a sharply split and, some say, politically and ideologically motivated Supreme Court ended Vice President Gore’s contest of the Florida election and, in effect, handed the presidency to Bush."
— December 13, 2000.

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Impeachment is Coup D’Etat: "Is or is there not some concern of the public, concern in some quarters, not all of them Democratic, that this is, in fact, a kind of effort at a quote, ‘coup,’ that is you have a twice elected, popularly elected President of the United States and so those that you mention in the Republican Party who dislike him and what he stands for, have been unable to beat him at the polls, have found another way to get him out of office?"
— Interview with former Republican Sen. Warren Rudman, CBS coverage of the start of the impeachment trial, January 7, 1999.

Impeachment Too Distracting: "The Republican leadership has decided, and spoken....They want the calling of witnesses and the lengthening out of the process. This is where the matter now stands. Questions such as what to do about Social Security, improving the nation’s schools, and the drug menace among America’s youth basically are on hold. So is what to do about threats to health of the U.S. economy by what is happening in Asia and Brazil; the threats to U.S. security posed by Iraq, Iran, and North Korea; and the peril represented by a collapsing Russia and an emerging China -- all important parts of the people’s business -- all remain pretty much on hold, while the trial drags on."
— January 25, 1999 "Dan Rather’s Notebook" radio commentary posted on the CBS News Web page.

Clinton Scandal vs. VP Bush Scandal: View a video comparison of how Dan Rather treated President Clinton in a March 31, 1999 interview in which Rather avoided the Chinese espionage and fundraising scandals and the Rather's infamous interview of Vice President Bush on January 25, 1988 on the Iran-Contra scandal in which Rather told the president, "You've made us hypocrites in the face of the world."

Hillary Clinton Fantastic: "Once a political lightning rod, today she is political lightning. A crowd pleaser and first-class fundraiser, a person under enormous pressure to step into the arena, this time on her own."
60 Minutes II, May 26, 1999
[For lengthy quotations of Rather fawning over Hillary in this interview and to watch a RealPlayer video clip, see the May 27, 1999 CyberAlert.]

Admiring the Kennedys: "We Americans, even those among us who have never liked the Kennedys’ politics, have long been fascinated by the Kennedy mystique. Or as some call it, the Kennedy myth. The dictionary defines mystique as ‘an aura of heightened meaning surrounding something to which special power or mystery is given.’ A myth is ‘a traditional story dealing with ancestors or heroes,’ a story that ‘shapes the world view of a people or delineates the customs or ideals of a society.’ By those definitions, like it or not, there is a Kennedy mystique and their history is mythic....

"What we do know is that some of the aching grief the family feels tonight we feel because the mystique and the myth are deep within us. That’s 48 Hours for tonight, an American Tragedy."
— Concluding 48 Hours, July 19, 1999, after the death of John Kennedy, Jr.

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Republicans Favor Sleazy Fundraising: "Republicans kill the bill to clean up sleazy political fundraising. The business of dirty campaign money will stay business as usual....Good evening. Legislation to reform shady big money campaign fundraising is dead in Congress. Republican opponents in the Senate killed it today." — February 26, 1998. 
"Republican" Ken Starr: "New indications in a CBS News poll out tonight of how the public perceives Republican special prosecutor Ken Starr’s investigation. Our poll suggests only 27 percent believe Starr is conducting an impartial probe. And 55 percent think it’s time for Starr to drop his investigation."
— March 2, 1998.

Far-Right Republican Haters: "On another front, there could be trouble for the Ken Starr Whitewater investigation. Reports continue to surface that this key witness for the prosecution, David Hale, may have been secretly bankrolled by political activists widely regarded as Clinton opponents, people that Clinton supporters call Republican haters from the far right."
— April 2 1998.

"Republican" Ken Starr Ruins Clinton’s Day: "Ken Starr drops another load on President Clinton....Good evening. Just as President Clinton was enjoying a day talking up the economy, officially announcing the first U.S. budget surplus in three decades, Ken Starr hit him again. The Republican independent counsel and special prosecutor decided late in the day to announce his decision to press his subpoena for samples of Monica Lewinsky's handwriting, fingerprints and her voice."
— May 26, 1998.

What Could Have Been If Not for Lewinsky: "It began with so much promise. Bill Clinton became the first Democratic President since Franklin Roosevelt to be reelected to a second term. This was the term he’d make his mark on history and determine how he’d be remembered. CBS’s Wyatt Andrews looks tonight at the state of the Clinton legacy."
— August 18, 1998.

Just about Sex: "On Capitol Hill, the Republican-dominated House now plans to vote Thursday to approve an official impeachment investigation into President Clinton, his sex life, and lies he told to hide it."
— October 6, 1998.

Hillary Clinton For President: "I would not be astonished to see Hillary Clinton be the Democratic nominee in 2000....Hillary Clinton is the Person of the Year in that, you talk about a comeback kid -- she makes her husband look like Ned in kneepants in terms of comeback from where she was early in the Clinton administration. You know, you add it all up, and you can make the case that Hillary Clinton might, might -- mark the word -- be the strongest candidate for the Democrats."
— Interview with CNN’s Larry King, December 3, 1998.

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Conservatives Can’t Use Word "Conservative:" "The head of the Republican political lobbying group that calls itself, quote, 'the Christian Coalition' said today he's leaving to start a political consulting business. Ralph Reed's group took a beating on some of its hard-right agenda in the last election."
— April 23, 1997.

Ending Affirmative Action like Spreading Syphilis: "Earlier tonight, we reported the President's apology for medical experiments that allowed black Americans to die of syphilis. The President noted how badly this hurt public trust in government, especially among minorities. The same criticism is being made today on another score. As CBS News correspondent John Blackstone reports, it's the fallout from California's voter-approved ban on state affirmative action programs."
— Introducing a story on drop in minority admissions, May 16, 1997.

No Religious Persecution in China: "An editor's note: When your reporter was in China recently, a very high ranking Chinese government official was repeatedly asked questions about religious persecution. He told me, and I quote directly, 'These stories are untrue.. We do, as you do, have some trouble with cults and we, like you, deal with them accordingly but that's all.' End quote.
— July 22, 1997.

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Republican Ken Starr: "The Republican Whitewater offensive is taking an unprecedented turn: First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton has been subpoenaed and now must testify before a Whitewater federal grand jury. That grand jury is led by a Republican prosecutor, Kenneth Starr."
— January 22, 1996.

Republicans Radical and Extreme: "Some of your staff members, not by name, have been saying, ‘Yes, the President thinks Bob Dole is a nice person and has been a pretty good leader in some ways but,’ they say, ‘he’s been captured by extremists in the Republican Party, the radical part of the Republican Party, including Newt Gingrich. Is that what you think?"
60 Minutes interview with Bill Clinton, Aug. 18, 1996.

Democrats Uncaring If Back Conservative Policies: "You said this morning that the party’s message will focus on the needs and cares of the people. Now, how do you reconcile that with a President who has just signed a, quote, ‘welfare reform bill’ which by general agreement is going to put a lot of poor children on the street?"
— To Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd, August 25, 1996.

"Hard Right" Clinton: "Bill Clinton's been running pretty hard to the right, so far that some Democrats now call him a ‘Republicrat.' Do you go that far?"
— To Jesse Jackson, August 26, 1996 CBS convention coverage.

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CBS News Competitors Morally Inferior: "It is not just Congress that is taking a sharp turn to the right. The surge to the right on Capitol Hill is making waves all over the country on openly politically partisan, and sometimes racist, radio."
— January 4, 1995.

GOP Threaten Human Survival: "There was no doubt Republicans in the House had enough votes tonight to pass another key item in their agenda to rip up or rewrite government programs going back to the Franklin Roosevelt era. It is a bill making it harder, much harder, to protect health, safety, and the environment. For example: the benefit of any new regulation would be required to outweigh the financial cost."
— February 28, 1995.

Republicans Kill Kids and Poor: "The new Republican majority in Congress took a big step today on its legislative agenda to demolish or damage government aid programs, many of them designed to help children and the poor."
— March 16, 1995

Prelude to a Clinton Kiss: "President Clinton will outline his version of a plan he says will balance the federal budget in ten years without what Mr. Clinton sees as a radical and extremist Republican plan to gut programs that help the old, the young, and the poor in order to bankroll tax giveaways to the rich. Republicans, of course, see it a different way."
— Before CBS News coverage of President Clinton's budget address, June 13, 1995

Carpet Bombing Health and Safety: "This is just for starters on a tough week ahead for President Clinton and his agenda. From another offensive wave on Whitewater to a sweeping rollback of federal regulations on health, safety, and the environment, it's a political carpet-bombing attack, wall to wall, House to Senate."
— July 17, 1995.

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Criticizing Gays as Bad as Fighting Communism: "Gays and lesbians are beaten to death in the streets with increasing frequency — in part due to irrational fear of AIDS but also because hatemongers, from comedians to the worst of the Christian right, send the message that homosexuals have no value in our society....In the post-cold-war era, gays have been drafted to replace communists as the new menace to the American Way: We’re told gays corrupt youth and commandeer art and entertainment to win converts."
— Writing in The Nation, April 11, 1994.

"Republican" Ken Starr: "There is growing controversy tonight, about whether the newly named independent counsel in the Whitewater case is independent or a Republican partisan allied with a get-Clinton movement. Among the questions about Kenneth Starr are these: the involvement of anti-Clinton activists in pushing for Starr's appointment to replace Robert Fiske. Also, Starr's public stand actively supporting a woman's current lawsuit against the President. This is a potentially important and explosive story, correspondent Rita Braver has the latest."
— August 8, 1994.

Poor Threatened by Republican Takeover of Congress: "Soup kitchens around the country are reporting demand for their services is up this Thanksgiving -- unfortunately, donations are down. And now with the coming shift of power and agendas in Washington, many charitable groups are worried about how they -- and the people they help -- can make it."
— November 23, 1994.

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Bill’s the Best: "[Clinton] pointed out the Andrew Jackson magnolia tree. He's a very good historian. Harry, I think if you had been in the room, any viewer-listener who had been in that room, would have been impressed with the breadth of his knowledge. I mean he talked about the Oscars. He talked very knowingly about Clint Eastwood and his new movie Unforgiven, Jack Nicholson's role in A Few Good Men, and then switched very quickly to a knowledgeable analysis of Arkansas's chances against North Carolina in the big basketball game tomorrow night."
— To CBS This Morning's Harry Smith, after March 25, 1993 Clinton interview.

The Clintons are Terrific: "If we could be one-hundredth as great as you and Hillary Rodham Clinton have been in the White House, we’d take it right now and walk away winners....Tell Mrs. Clinton we respect her and we’re pulling for her."
— To President Clinton, via satellite, at a CBS affiliates meeting, referencing new co-anchor Connie Chung to the Evening News, May 27, 1993

Hillary Clinton, Genius: "I hear you talking and, as I have before on this subject, I don’t know of anybody, friend or foe, who isn’t impressed by your grasp of the details of this [health care] plan. I’m not surprised, because you have been working on it so long and listened to so many people."
— Interview with Hillary Clinton, 48 Hours, September 22, 1993

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Dan the Welfare Expert: "Take an election year, add a budget crunch, and one sure result is an assault on the welfare system, help for the poor. Still, most of the people who attack welfare have little or no contact with the people who depend on it."
— February 5, 1992.

Greedy ‘80s: "And, Eye On America -- a town fighting back against greed, corporate raiders, and the hangover of the go-go '80s."
— March 19, 1992.

Centrist Clinton-Gore Ticket, I: "Delegates approved the Clinton-Gore center-of-the-road Democratic Party platform, trying to move the party closer to voters around the malls in America's suburbs."
— First convention update during the All-Star Game, July 14, 1992.

Centrist Clinton-Gore Ticket, II: "Assembled delegates here approved a center-of-the-road Democratic Party platform to help the Clinton-Gore ticket go shopping for votes in the fall in America's malls and suburbs."
— Second convention update, July 14, 1992.

Centrist Clinton-Gore Ticket, III: "Earlier, the Democratic Party approved the Clinton-Gore middle-of-the-road platform calling for law and order, work for welfare recipients, and a strong U.S. military."
— Third convention update, July 14, 1992.

Reagan Years Unfair: "Everyone knows the rich got richer in the 1980s. Now, a new study shows how dramatic the change was."
— Reporting on a study by the Economic Policy Institute, a group founded by Dukakis and Clinton advisors, October 29, 1992.

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Keeping Soldiers Safe: "Allied military units are on the move. Their positions, movements, and plans must be carefully safeguarded. We must assume that the enemy is confused about what is happening on the battlefield and it is absolutely essential that we not do anything inadvertently ourselves to clarify the picture for him."
— Defense Secretary Dick Cheney in a press conference at the start of the Gulf War ground operation, February 23, 1991.


"As part of our CBS News live coverage of the beginning of the ground war offensive, we're talking to Bob McKeown, a CBS News reporter who's one mile from the Kuwaiti border. Bob, any indication of how far up you the think the Allies are now?"
— Dan Rather, 21 minutes later.

Non-Liberal Blacks "Reactionaries": "Black conservatives or reactionaries are getting a lot of attention since the Thomas nomination...It has been a common misconception that Americans who happen to be black also happen to be liberal or progressive. True, perhaps most are, but as Bruce Morton reports in tonight's Eye On America, the terms black or African-American and conservative or reactionary are not mutually exclusive."
— July 12, 1991.

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Justice Souter, Right-Wing Woman-Hater: "Senator Simon, is there any doubt in your mind that [Souter’s] views pretty well parallel those of John Sununu’s, which means he’s anti-abortion or anti-women’s rights, whichever way you want to put it?"
— To Democratic Sen. Paul Simon, July 23, 1990.

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Rather Classics

Soviet Citizens Liked Communism: "Despite what many Americans think, most Soviets do not yearn for capitalism or Western-style democracy."
— June 17, 1987.

Clinton Scandal vs. VP Bush Scandal: View a video comparison of how Dan Rather treated President Clinton in a March 31, 1999 interview in which Rather avoided the Chinese espionage and fundraising scandals (on right) and Rather's infamous interview of Vice President Bush on January 25, 1988 interview on Iran-Contra scandal in which Rather told the president, "You've made us hypocrites in the face of the world." Watch the videos below.


Dan Rather

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20 Years On the CBS Evening News:
Dan's Daffy "Ratherisms"

“We could be in for a long night with the Senate battle as tight as a Botox smile.”

“Polls closed one-half hour ago in Arkansas. We can tell you that race is crackling like a hickory fire.”

“A big win for the Republicans, and they’ll be breaking out the longnecks in Republican headquarters in Texas and elsewhere, not to mention the White House itself, although Lesley [Stahl] says they pop the caps only on Dr. Pepper ten, two and four there.”
— CBS’s election coverage, November 5, 2002.

"Now Florida, that race, that race, the heat from it is hot enough to peel house paint."

"I can hear some people at home saying, ‘Whoa! If the electoral vote count is now what Dan Rather and CBS News says it is, 121 for Bush, 119 for Gore, it seems to me just a few minutes ago Bush had a long lead.’ His lead has evaporated and been melted faster than ice cream in a microwave, what’s happening here?"

"Now remember Florida is the state where Jeb Bush, the brother of George Bush is the Governor, and you can bet that Governor Bush will be madder than a rained on rooster that his brother the Governor wasn’t able to carry this state for him."

"Bush has had a lead since the very start, but his lead is now shakier than cafeteria Jell-O."

"Then in Tennessee, now Al Gore may be as cross as a snapping turtle about this Tennessee situation because it’s his home state."

"Bush is sweeping through the South like a tornado through a trailer park."

"Pennsylvania drops for Gore, 23 electoral votes, and for the first time tonight, mark it, if you’re in the kitchen, Mabel, come back in the front room, 145 for Gore, 130 for Bush, 270 needed win."

"His [Gore’s] chances are slim right now, and if he doesn’t carry Florida, slim will have left town."

"The presidential race still hotter than a Laredo parking lot."

"I have to say, though, and I don’t mean to be flip about it, that I think you are more likely to see a hippopotamus coming running through this room than you are to see Governor Bush appoint Nader to the Cabinet."

"Sip it, savor it, cup it, photostat it, underline it in red, put it in the album, hang it on the wall, George Bush is the next President of the United States."
— During CBS News coverage of election night 2000.

"Ken Starr and his people have been working for three to four years, spent more than $30 million, they’ve used dozens if not a hundred or so FBI agents. They may have turned this up, whether you had the Paula Jones case or not. But again maybe not, but again that’s like if a frog had side pockets he’d probably wear a handgun. It didn’t happen that way."
— On February 5, 1998 Late Show with David Letterman.

"Democrats and Republicans are nervous as pigs in a packing plant over these returns because the polls have closed and we don’t know the results....Now, if you’re in those states where the polls are open, let me encourage you to vote. And of course, if you’re in a state where the polls are closed, let me encourage you not to vote. It’s illegal."
— November 3, 1998.

"Charles Schumer is one of the stunners of the night. This race was as hot and squalid as a New York elevator in August."
"The call is just in for the South Carolina Senate race. This was one of the cardiac arrest time races. This thing was nasty enough to gag a buzzard. But it turns out that Fritz Hollings, the veteran Democratic Senator, has held on to win."
— During CBS News’s election night 1998 coverage.

"I think you're more likely to see the Pope ride through this room on a giraffe."
— On the possibility of a CBS News cable channel, to Philadelphia Inquirer TV writer Gail Shister, February 18, 1997.

"In New Hampshire, closest Senate race in the country, this race between Dick Swett and Bob Smith is hot and tight as a too small bathing suit on a too long car ride back from the beach."
— During CBS News 1996 election night coverage.

"Well, in Texas they have a saying: ‘That's a good way for Momma to drive a Cadillac,' which is a way of saying that if you play with one of these things, particularly if you are in a low-water area. I would say, Harry, this morning there must be lot of people who are in that let's-have-another-cup-of-coffee-and-not-worry-about-it stage. And I agree with that. That's the stage to be in."
— On CBS This Morning co-host "Double T trouble. T is for Thelma, T is for Tennessee, and T is for big trouble tonight."

"A lot of tight Senate races out there. Let's hit those chips with another dash of salsa, Ed Bradley."
— During CBS News 1994 election night coverage.

Rather Gettin’ Down:
Rather: "Some days I say ‘Why is he [Clinton] doing that?' or ‘Gosh, can he do it a little better?' But it may be time to, sort of as you say, chill. We know when it comes to politics and governing, whatever you think of this President, whether you voted for him or not, he can hang -- which is to say he can do it-"
Arsenio Hall: "See! See! Dan is deep, ain't he? Dan in the Hood!....I thank you for being here. You're a special guy. And I hope whatever you have is contagious."
— Exchange on The Arsenio Hall Show, January 28, 1993.

"Mr. Clinton was about as relaxed as a pound of liver."
— Referring to his earlier interview with Clinton, January 20, 1993 CBS This Morning.

"If an American inauguration can't bring a lump to your throat and a tear to your eye, if you don't feel as corny as Kansas in August, maybe you need a jump-start and some vitamins."
— During inauguration coverage, January 20, 1993.

"It will be so exciting as to make the wax pop out of your ears."

"There's material here that will make their fingernails sweat."

"Texas...another of the so-called big enchiladas, or if not an enchilada, at least a huge taco."

"This woman has gotten a very bad rap, Hillary Clinton. It is true that she's smart. She didn't go to school just to eat her lunch."

"While the Clinton-Gore campaign was as unstoppable as say, a Beethoven symphony..."
— During 1992 election night coverage.

"I'd like to leave you with the words of that popular, secular, patriotic hymn: ‘Long may our land be bright with freedom's holy light.'"
— Approaching tears at 2am EST on election night 1992.

"Now, walking down the red-carpeted staircase, President Bush, President Gorbachev, with Gorbachev's interpreter in between. You can just see at the top of your picture that huge chandelier, almost 4,000 pounds. It's the older sister of all chandeliers."
— Dan Rather before START treaty signing ceremony, July 31, 1991.

"Stay with CBS now for more news, including: Is there a pall over the mall as holiday shoppers think small?"
— December 2, 1991.

Gorbachev’s Great Eyes: "He has, as many great leaders have, impressive eyes...There's a kind of laser-beam stare, a forced quality, you get from Gorbachev that does not come across as something peaceful within himself. It's the look of a kind of human volcano, or he'd probably like to describe it as a human nuclear energy plant."
— Quoted in the May 10, 1990 Seattle Times.

"I wouldn't touch that line with a 12-foot pole, which as you know is a pole I reserve for those things that I certainly wouldn't touch with an 11-foot pole."
— Response to whether he had a favorite candidate for President, election night 1990.

"Let's go down to Texas and let me show you actual votes in and tabulated. This was a race considered so nasty it would gag a buzzard....This race is so close that everybody's having a 4,000-calorie attack down there."
CBS News election night coverage, November 6, 1990.

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Denials in Bias

Dan Rather has denied having a liberal bias almost as long as he's been a news anchor. Highlights:

"I’m all news, all the time. Full power, tall tower. I want to break in when news breaks out. That’s my agenda. Now, respectfully, when you start talking about a liberal agenda and all the, quote, ‘liberal bias’ in the media, I quite frankly, and I say this respectfully but candidly to you, I don’t know what you’re talking about."
— To Denver KOA’s Mike Rosen, Nov. 28, 1995.

"I do believe in what's become an archaic word for journalists, objectivity. You know my job is to be accurate, be fair, and in so far as it's humanly possible, to keep my feelings out of every story...I do agree that one test of a reporter is how often he or she is able to keep their emotions out of what they are doing and keep their own biases and agendas out of it." — On CNBC's Tim Russert, Sep. 20, 1997.

"Well, my answer to that is basically a good Texas phrase, which is bullfeathers.... I think the fact that if someone survives for four or five years at or near the top in network television, you can just about bet they are pretty good at keeping independence in their reporting. What happens is a lot of people don't want independence. They want the news reported the way they want it for their own special political agendas or ideological reasons." — On CNN's Larry King Live, Mar. 11, 1996.

"The test is not the names people call you or accusations by political activists inside or outside your own organization. The test is what goes up on the screen and what comes out of the speaker. I think the public understands that those people are trying to create such a perception because they're trying to force you to report the news the way they want you to report it. I am not going to do it. I will put up billboard space on 42nd Street. I will wear a sandwich board. I will do whatever is necessary to say I am not going to be cowed by anybody's special political agenda, inside, outside, upside, downside."
— to CBS reporter Bernard Goldberg's charge that the networks have a liberal bias, Mar. 6, 1996 New York Post.

CNN Crossfire Co-host Bill Press: "Why is it that you are the epitome of the left-wing liberal media in the mind of every conservative I’ve ever talked to? What did you do to get that reputation?"
Rather: "I remained an independent reporter who would not report the news the way they wanted it or -- from the left or the right. I’m a lifetime reporter. All I ever dreamed of was being a journalist, and the definition of journalist to me was the guy who’s an honest broker of information. ...I do subscribe to the idea of: ‘Play no favorites and pull no punches.’"
— Exchange on CNN’s Crossfire, Jun. 24, 1999.

“I think the tag, you know, somehow or another, ‘he’s a bomb-throwing Bolshevik from the left side’ that’s attached to me, is put there by people who, they subscribe to the idea either you report the news the way we want you to report it, or we’re gonna tag some, what we think negative sign on you. There are people in the world that way, that, you know, part of growing up is to recognize not everybody is going to love you, and believe me, I recognize that.”
— Part of Rather’s response to Geraldo Rivera’s question “What I can’t figure out is why you rub the right so wrong. What is it about you that generates such ferocious criticism from one side of the American political spectrum?” on CNBC’s Rivera Live, May 21, 2001.

Don Imus: “Bernard Goldberg, your former colleague, in The Wall Street Journal the other day said that you possess a liberal bias that you’re even unaware of. What did you think of that? Well, first of all, do you? And second of all, what do you think of his comment?”
Dan Rather: “Do I what?”
Imus: “Possess a liberal bias.”
Rather: “No, I don’t think so, but other people have to judge that and, you know, he’s entitled to his opinion, and that’s, you know, I’m in favor of strong defense, tight money, and clean water. I don’t know what that makes me. Whatever that makes me, that’s what I am. But people are going to take those shots. When you’re on television every night, people are going to take those shots.”
— Exchange on the July 19, 2001 Imus in the Morning radio program simulcast on MSNBC.

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Dan Rather Starred at Democratic Party Fundraiser

Read the MRC's April 15, 2001 news release calling for an on-air apology from Dan Rather.

Get background from the MRC CyberAlert with lots of links and video.

Read the MRC's press release marking Rather's 20th Anniversary in CBS Evening News anchor chair.

Check out MRC President Brent Bozell's column on Dan Rather.

Read April 5, 2001 newspaper coverage from around the nation on the MRC-Rather controversy:

The New York Times (available to NYT online registered users only)

The Washington Post



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