Dan Rather: bad ass or nut?
October 19, 2001 9:56 PM   Subscribe

Dan Rather: bad ass or nut? Maybe I'm just too young to remember all of the times the CBS anchorman has been beat up, including the famous "What's the Frequency, Kenneth" incident. Now there's a web site where you can read about all of the times that he's been randomly assaulted, generally harassed, or tear gassed. There are also a few video clips. I think the best one is of him getting punched at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. And of course, it wouldn't be Dan Rather without the long list of weird quotes.
posted by Alison (23 comments total)
"I had someone at the Houston police station shoot me with heroin so I could do a story about it. The experience was a special kind of hell. I came out understanding full well how one could be addicted to 'smack,' and quickly....I've tried everything. I can say to you with confidence, I know a fair amount about LSD. I've never been a social user of any of these things, but my curiosity has carried me into a lot of interesting areas."

He just went up a few notches in my book.
posted by Hackworth at 10:25 PM on October 19, 2001

Outside perspective: for those of us who only watch him occasionally Rather stands out as a real human being and a superb reporter(newspaperman in the best sense). He's genuine, not afraid to be wrong and always looks as if he's wrestling with the facts as they're thrown at him, rather(!)than feeding them into a pre-conceived, mass-marketed framework.
It makes a change from all the agenda-driven robots on CNN. I also like the way he goes on and on, but that you could probably guess :-)

P.S. I wish all first links looked, read and focussed like this one. I say alison has done this before under another name and should be publicly denounced so as to not give us other newbies a bad name.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:46 PM on October 19, 2001

This is beautiful. Absolutely fucking gorgeous. Pop culture detritus reconstructed disaster scene style. Portrait of a human trainwreck. Thank god that someone had the sense to lock this man inside of our television sets. He would have been dangerous anywhere else.

And how in the hell is it that I never knew about his Letterman appearance with REM unti just now?
posted by hipstertrash at 10:59 PM on October 19, 2001

agenda-driven robots on CNN


Being a semi-smartass aside, I agree. For better or worse, Rather comes off as a human being, more so than the ranks of cookie-cutter, soulless plastic 'newsreaders' that tell us what's happening in the world.

During the events of Sept 11 and after, Armed Forces Network Korea (the only English TV I get) started their live feeds with Rather, then switched later (sorry don't know the appropriate network letters) to Tom Brokaw (who seriously rubs me the wrong way) where they stayed for days on end. Disappointing. I didn't see Rather again until he appeared on Letterman and broke down...
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:08 AM on October 20, 2001

"I got addicted. News, particularly daily news, is more addictive than crack cocaine, more addictive than heroin, more addictive than cigarettes."
--Dan Rather in Brill's Content, October 1998.

Now where have I heard that before?
posted by bjgeiger at 3:43 AM on October 20, 2001

The man didn't care about the Chandra Levy -- Gary Condit circus. He spent all summer arguing that there were more interesting stories out there. Turned out he was right, wasn't he.
He can be weird sometimes, OK, but he's a great pro. And many people seem to like him quite a bit exactly because he's not your usual stuffy anchor.
posted by matteo at 4:14 AM on October 20, 2001

"You can sooner expect a tall talking broccoli stick to offer to mow your lawn for free." Yeah. Did he really make it out of LSD OK? This man belongs in Berkeley!
posted by mmarcos at 4:40 AM on October 20, 2001

I got respect for Dan when I saw him at a movie theater here in Austin (true story).

I sat behind him during Todd Solonz's "Happiness." Now, if you've seen that, you know what a fucked-up (in a good way) movie that is. Well, Dan laughed long and laughed hard at all the same places I did. A lot of people in the room stifled their laughs (at such things as masturbation, pedophilia, and Philip Seymour Hoffman having phone sex) because they didn't want other people to look at them funny.

But Dan let his freak flag fly. He hooted, he hollered. He enjoyed the film and I got a whole new sense of respect for him.

Plus, he was wearing blue jeans. That was freaky.
posted by ColdChef at 5:44 AM on October 20, 2001

Does anyone else remember Election Night 2000?
posted by pooldemon at 6:14 AM on October 20, 2001

I remember Election Night 2000 and I also remember that it was Dan Rather that made David Letterman's return to air after 9-11 so powerful. For someone who I had preveiously perceived as a callous newsman to break down like he did (and twice(!)) was a real shock to me and it was loads more human than anything I'd seen on CNN or MSNBC.
posted by eyeballkid at 7:52 AM on October 20, 2001

But Dan let his freak flag fly.

posted by brittney at 8:40 AM on October 20, 2001

You can also enjoy the pure concentrated essence of Mr. Rather's vocal stylings in a catchy musical arrangement by The Evolution Control Committee. (Download either "Rocked by Rape" or the drum & bass remix "Rocked by Rave".)
posted by redfoxtail at 9:49 AM on October 20, 2001

Dan's the best of all the talking heads. I remember him reporting from the jungles of Vietnam, asking the tough questions of Richard Nixon when most of the press corps weren't challenging Nixon's denials of Watergate...Dan's the man.
And if you spend enough time on camera it's going to catch you in some weird moments too.
posted by StOne at 10:27 AM on October 20, 2001

All I remember of the horror of election night, when we switched over to CBS, was how giddy Dan would get every time Bush would win a state, or when they took FL away from Gore.

Professional news anchors shouldn't take sides.
posted by phoenix enflamed at 10:44 AM on October 20, 2001

I've had a long-term love/hate affair with Dan, as I imagine a lot of viewers have, just 'cause he can be so, well, odd (although, as a number of you have pointed out, that's what makes him human, doesn't it?).

Since seeing an interview he did at the National Press Club on C-SPAN earlier this week, though, I'm a believer. It's really worth watching: not only is his take on media responsibility unimpeachable, IMHO, but he's such a sharp and progressive thinker, it's almost like he's got a young person's intensely curious, inquisitive, open mind, bolstered by about 50 years of seen-it-all experience. Add to that his characteristic laser-guided, no-BS directness, and you've got a formidable combination.

And phoenix enflamed, although I didn't watch Dan on election night, I'd guess that his excitement then had more to do with the breathless plot-twisting of the unfolding story than who was ahead at any given time. I don't know for sure, but it sounds like vintage Dan to me.
posted by verdezza at 11:51 AM on October 20, 2001

Rather's a good newsman, but (paraphrasing a veteran reporter from another network) he's always been weird. And any reporter is bound to get shoved or hit if he stays in the business long enough, but Rather's record is (ahem) rather impressive. Great link.
posted by swerve at 11:54 AM on October 20, 2001

i heard a true one that i'll let ya all hear(?). came from my friend whom started radio in 46'. someone came up to Rather, rather drunk and said "where were you on November 22, 1963." Rather replied "Dallas". The wanker is, this drunk fellow didnt know Rather was there covering the story. the drunk was speechless, no doubt sober from his foolishness. Seems Dan has never quite recovered from Dallas(cant blame him) he was at the center of the 20th centuries greatest single tragedy(in america), JFK. (of course thats debatable but singular act is key operative)....ya know...."you saw his head snap forward...right dan?"...I like dan. hes a trooper.
posted by newnameintown at 12:19 PM on October 20, 2001

Verdezza: Thanks for the link to that National Press Club interview. Good stuff.
posted by Optamystic at 12:25 PM on October 20, 2001

Thanks, Optamystic. I should've mentioned that it's a good idea to fast-forward that puppy to between 9:30 and 10:00 minutes into it (unless you're really into soul-deadeningly hyperbolic introductions from people you've never heard of and couldn't care less about).
posted by verdezza at 1:13 PM on October 20, 2001

All I remember of the horror of election night, when we switched over to CBS, was how giddy Dan would get every time Bush would win a state, or when they took FL away from Gore.

I think you must have that backwards. Rather is no friend of Republicans in general, and has an unpleasant history with the Bush family in particular.
posted by ljromanoff at 2:40 PM on October 20, 2001

Another truly cool American cat.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 3:28 PM on October 20, 2001

redfoxtail: Damn, I've had a partial download of "Rocked by Rape" for ages and never got around to figuring out who was responsible for it. But now I know. Thanks for the link!
posted by youhas at 5:26 PM on October 20, 2001

And here's Mark Steyn in today's Sunday Telegraph: a very entertaining article about the great man.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 1:46 AM on October 21, 2001

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