After making his “essay” on respecting democracy the centerpiece of last week’s Reliable Sources, CNN’s Brian Stelter offered more variations on the theme with today’s installment, bringing in journalism luminaries to second his emotion. And what luminary radiates more lumens than Mr. Reliable Source himself, Dan Rather:
DAN RATHER: These charges that Donald Trump is throwing out about a “rigged election”, quote/unquote, ridiculous, untrue, and dangerous. It’s very important that people have confidence in the electoral system. It’s ridiculous to say all of these good people who work at polling places, who work in gathering the votes are somehow part of a rigged system….
Dan Rather’s pearl-clutching over “confidence in the electoral system” was just what Stelter wanted to hear, so much so that those dogged journalistic instincts that led Brian to cross-examine Sean Spicer in an earlier segment were out to lunch when it came to Mr. Rather. The Cable Gamer wonders why Rather was never questioned about his own charges of a “rigged election” and his frequently expressed lack of confidence in the electoral system.
Here is Dan Rather on voting in Florida:
There were over 10,000 undervotes in Palm Beach County. Evans wonders–did some ten thousand voters really go to the polls there and decide to skip the race for president in 2000?…You hope for the best in people and you hope it was just some bad circumstances that came together all in one place. But it should matter to people and they should check it out, and investigate it more thoroughly, because if something else was going on, and these people profited form intentionally screwing up an election, they ought to pay. They ought to pay hard.
All those “good people” who work on gathering the votes…were up to no good? More recently, just a few years ago in fact, Dan Rather was telling people that the vote count in Ohio was not to be trusted, because, you know, those Republicans are in charge there:
Ohio seems still close enough that Romney could upset and win there (keep in mind: the whole upper tier of Ohio state government is in the hands of the GOP now; in very close voting they have the power to influence what votes are counted and how…remember Ohio, Bush v. Kerry in 2004 and Florida, Bush v. Gore in 2000).
Perhaps this was just Dan Rather’s way of instilling “confidence in the electoral system”—by warning that the count will be cooked. The Cable Gamer wonders why Brian Stelter didn’t raise any of these contradictory statements with Mr. Rather. It’s not like any of this is unknown. Dapper Dan has even sung this song on CNN’s own airwaves:
RATHER: Look, it’s not a partisan issue. It’s not Democrat, Republican, or independent or Mugwump, it’s about the integrity of the very heart and soul of the democratic system, and that is a free person voting with a secret ballot and the ballot gets counted. It’s not an opinion. It’s a fact, not everywhere, but many votes don’t get counted and some votes are counted wrong.
All of these inconvenient comments just vanished down the memory hole in Stelter’s credulous presentation. The CNN anchor then showed his versatility by switching to another favorite notion of his: that Trump is just running to build up interest in a Trump TV network. By sheer coincidence this is also a favorite notion of the Clinton campaign. Never mind that this ultra-speculative story is the journalistic equivalent of vaporware; it apparently serves some purpose of Stelter’s to beat the drum about it with tiresome regularity.
The Cable Gamer wonders if Brian Stelter has simply abandoned any pretense of impartial reporting. Is he now an opinionator, on the network that claims “we don’t do opinion?” Spend a few weeks following his twitter feed and you may come to your own conclusion. But that’s a story for another time.