Dan Rather, a veteran journalist and former CBS News anchor, sat down in Toronto Thursday to talk about his new book "Rather Outspoken: My Life in the News" and the present political situation in the United States.
For decades, Dan Rather graced our television screens as an award-winning anchor for CBS News. Whether it was President Richard Nixon’s Watergate Scandal, the breaking news of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination or the Iran-Contra Affair, Rather always sought an in-depth story.
Due to his piece on former President George W. Bush’s military record during the Vietnam War, CBS News did not renew Rather’s contract and after 44 years Rather left the network. He has noted he does not hold any ill feelings toward CBS.
With CBS behind him, Rather is still globetrotting, seeking a story and reporting the news on television. He is a producer at HDNet and hosts a weekly one-hour show called “Dan Rather Reports.”
One of the most well-known reporters in the world now has a new book published titled “Rather Outspoken: My Life in the News.” The memoir looks at all the big stories he covered as a journalist in his more than half a century in the business and provides thoughts on the present state of journalism and its future.
The veteran reporter sat down with Indigo CEO Heather Reisman Thursday evening in midtown Toronto to discuss the book and give his objective analysis of American politics today and the upcoming United States presidential election.
Veteran journalist and former CBS News anchor Dan Rather speaks at a book signing in Toronto
2012 Presidential Election
Rather told the large crowd that the November presidential election is going to be a near $3 billion campaign. President Barack Obama pledged to spend $1 billion, while presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney has already raised a tremendous amount of money.
Despite President Obama’s campaign finances and popularity – polls suggest Obama has a more favourable view among Americans than his fall opponent – Rather believes the incumbent leader is the underdog in the race, which led a couple of people in the crowd to shout, “Oh, come on!”
Although Rather expects it to be a tight race, he believes the president will come up on top and defeat Romney in a very close margin.
The situation in Syria is prompting many to turn to President Bill Clinton and how he dealt with the Rwandan genocide. Years later, the former president usually tells reporters, officials and others that he wished he could have done more to help the country.
Fast forward to the present, the same thing is transpiring in Syria. As Reisman pointed out, photos and videos of crying children, dead civilians and perpetual violence are being broadcast every day on television. There are many calls for the United States and other Western nations to intervene, but nothing yet has been done.
Rather noted that it is a very difficult situation, but said, “Syria is Obama’s Rwanda moment.”
He has interviewed many people throughout his career, including the famous interview with former President George H.W. Bush when he was running for the Oval Office. The nine-minute interview featured an intense and contentious discussion between Rather and Bush, in which Rather provided an on-air explanation of the interview the following evening.
In his career, he interviewed Saddam Hussein twice. Rather was asked how he was able to get an interview with the former Iraqi leader and he responded that it took persistence. Rather explained after the Kuwait invasion, he was telling Hussein and his people that he needed to be interviewed.
Towards the end of the discussion, Reisman asked Rather who he would like to interview from today. Rather took a moment to pause and then responded Kim Jong-un, the new North Korean leader and son of the late Kim Jong-il – he added that he never got a chance to interview the former North Korean leader and was once only a few feet away from him.
In history, Rather said he would have liked to interview Martin Luther King and Mother Teresa because, according to Rather, it would be hard to walk away not in awe, reflection and even enlightened.