Perhaps it was an April Fool’s Day joke that was a day late.
That’s how some people might react after seeing a new video hosted by Dan Rather.
The subject of the video? How to protect yourself against fake news.
— The Young Turks (@TheYoungTurks) April 3, 2018
The video was posted by the progressive news site The Young Turks. Rather hosts a nightly newscast on the The Young Turks, which is available on various digital platforms.
More than a few people have noted the irony of Rather offering advice on spotting fake news. His long career at CBS came to an unglorious end after questions arose about the accuracy of his 2004 report about then-President George W. Bush’s National Guard service.
CBS eventually apologized for the story, which claimed Bush received special treatment during his tenure in the National Guard to avoid having to serve in Vietnam. The report also claimed Bush had skipped out on some of his obligations to the Guard but was never reprimanded.
The network said it was unable to authenticate the National Guard documents Rather used as the basis for his story. The network described Rather’s report as “a mistake in judgment.”
Fake news wasn’t a term used in 2004, but it’s bantered about everywhere today. So Rather offers six tips for viewers on how to guard against being victimized by fake news.
First, Rather suggests understanding “that trusting a news outlet does not mean they’re perfect. No one is perfect. It means they tell you when they screw up.”
Tip No. 2 from Rather is “don’t rely on just one news outlet.”
Third, he tells viewers “don’t rely on just the news to understand an issue. Read books. Find the experts. Find out how issues are discussed outside of news.”
Fourth on Rather’s to-do list: “If you find yourself agreeing with everything your news outlet says, you’re doing it wrong. If your news doesn’t challenge you, challenge your news.”
He doesn’t specify, however, what it means to “challenge your news.”
Rather’s fifth piece of advice? “Find a commentator whose politics differ from yours,” he said. “Intellectually honest, even though their values differ from yours. If you can’t find such a person, maybe the media is not the problem.”
And last but not least, Rather says, “Remember that what the news tells you is far less important than what they decide to talk about in the first place. If they focus on personal, salacious and speculative stories, find a new outlet, one that drills in on issues that actually affect real lives, your wallet or pocketbook, health and education, schools, social justice, the environment.
“The true test of trustworthy journalism isn’t that they never make mistakes. It’s whether they’re willing to challenge the powers that be on behalf of those without power.”
Rather, now 86, has always stood by the accuracy of his story on Bush. In 2004, CBS said it had been “deceived” by a retired Texas National Guard officer who presented the questionable documents about Bush’s National Guard service, and Rather said he and his producer “made a mistake” by not proving the documents were authentic.
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