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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

This is what the British Broadcasting Corporation considers front page news.

Rather, who was for decades one of the best known and most trusted figures in US journalism, said in a Facebook post: “Watergate is the biggest political scandal of my lifetime, until maybe now.”

What the BBC doesn’t tell us is that this “most trusted figure” saw his career come to an abrupt end when he was fired by CBS for pushing a false story about George W. Bush’s service record which was based on forged documents.

Tim Newman

34 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • embutler

    I happened to be listening that day of the original broadcast..
    the lead-in was
    “next up ,we have proof that bush ignored his commanding officer orders”

  • g6loq

    Dan Rather NOT!

  • Fraser Orr

    It is fascinating to watch the whole circus playing out. I am sure we all knew that Trump was going to be vehemently opposed, but the degree to which it is happening is really quite shocking. There seems to be no news source at all that has anything approaching unbiased reporting.

    I understand that this is a media strategy of trying to create apparent chaos and scandal where none exists, but the rank dishonesty of it really takes my breath away.

    Of course, Trump hasn’t exactly helped matters with his extremely belligerent approach. But I honestly thing that “that is what he was going for.” The hysteria is so high that should a real scandal break I don’t think we’d even notice.

    The press really have utterly abdicated their responsibility here, and honestly I think that it will cost the left big time in the next election.

    What are all these scandals that apparently have made Trump worse than Nixon? That he did what he promised to do with regards to immigration? That ICE raided and deported a bunch of felons, rapists, murderers and gang bangers? That he fired someone for insubordination? And this thing with Flynn? Any serious press would be digging deep into the obvious hit job by the government against this man. He probably should have been fired, but my god the back story is horrifying…. unelected government officials leaked secret possibly illegally recorded conversations with a foreign power to undermine the cabinet of the duly elected President of the United States? It is absolutely shocking.

    I guess though anytime you try to tear down the dreadful power structures of Washington it’s immune system kicks in to destroy the invader. Which to me is all the more evidence that Trump is doing the right things.

  • bobby b

    Do these people who are reaching out to Rather for pithy quotes not realize that he’s a figure of ridicule?

    That he’s like the priest who buggered his acolytes, the marriage counselor who diddled the counseled wife, the policeman who steals?

    That he didn’t merely commit an offense, but that he offended in a way that strikes at the heart of his professional purpose?

    A lying journalist who tries to sway a presidential election really ought to disappear in shame. It says much about the left that they consider him worth quoting.

    I could really begin to think badly of these people.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Donald Trump was born to rule.

    You can’t teach this shit.

  • Eric

    When Trump has an actual scandal, I wonder if they’ll be able to get anyone to believe it.

  • Chip

    It’s astounding how quickly the public’s perception of the media has gone from trust to suspicion to skepticism and now to outright disbelief and ridicule.

    And the bizarre thing is that with the age of information threatening to sweep traditional media aside, instead of leveraging their (diminishing) reputation for objectivity in a mounting sea of opinion, they’ve jumped the other way and abandoned objectivity altogether.

    Of course, some media can’t be swept aside because they force citizens to pay for them, no matter how many times they run with stories about Dan Rather’s posts on Facebook.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    Hey, they have to print something on the front page! They’d have to say nice things about Brexit, otherwise! What else can the Biased Broadcasting Corporation do?

  • When Trump has an actual scandal, I wonder if they’ll be able to get anyone to believe it.

    Quite. But I think a great swathe of the MSM are in denial that they are now widely disbelieved.

  • Perry de Havilland (London) (February 17, 2017 at 7:48 am) hits the nail on the head. If the media believed 1% of what they pretend about Trump and his 2nd-amendment-loving followers and were not in denial about their own public image, they would know that an actual Trump scandal would see them easily persuading those who still credit them but having a harder time with the rest of us. That ‘and’ is what explains behaviour we see as reckless even in its own terms.

    There is another possible downside for them. Back in the days of Watergate, it was only the more extreme lefties – Chomsky and his like – who took the attitude “So the directors of Murder Incorporated have been caught cheating on their tax return; so what?” IIRC, Chomsky failed to foresee Watergate’s capacity to harm Nixon. Today, will the media even recognise an actual scandal in amongst their self-generated noise? His own supporters and/or party may do so, but I expect the media would come limping along behind, like Chomsky to the Watergate.

  • pete

    The omission is easily explained. The BBC has a duty to educate us, not merely to inform us.

  • Stephen W. Houghton

    “And the bizarre thing is that with the age of information threatening to sweep traditional media aside, instead of leveraging their (diminishing) reputation for objectivity in a mounting sea of opinion, they’ve jumped the other way and abandoned objectivity altogether.”

    Actually it is quite a sane strategy called “roll hard left and die”, identified and named by Sarah Hoyt. She describes it here: https://accordingtohoyt.com/2016/11/19/rolling-in-the-deep/ The most relevant part quoted below.

    “Years ago, watching science fiction magazines and newspapers of various sorts come and go, I identified a process I called “roll hard left and die.”

    When a magazine or a newspaper or any news or entertainment media was in real trouble, they went hard, hard left, then died.

    It took me a little while to realize this was a sane strategy. In a field completely controlled by the left, when you knew that your job was in peril be it through missmanagement or whatever, your last hope was to go incredibly hard left, so you could blame the failure on ideology. And instead of not being able to find a job, you found yourself lionized by all the “right” (left) “thinking people.” New jobs were assured.

    I watched this happen four times with a particular magazine editor, who killed sf magazines through publishing things that REALLY weren’t science fiction besides being preachy. But every time the magazine got in trouble it would go hard left, and when it died the editor was offered another, better job.”

  • Paul Marks

    The BBC is indeed vile – a liefest.

    However, the government is to blame.

    It is the government that makes us pay the BBC tax (the “license fee”).

    And it the government that forbids, by its regulations, any conservative television news stations in Britain – meaning that “independent” television news (and radio news) is just as leftist as the BBC.

    “BBC Conservatives” – i.e. people in the Conservative Party who want to maintain good relations with the left (with the university crowd – the universities, and the rest of the education system, being the toy of the left) are the real problem.

    They are even the basic problem for the Conservative Party itself – as “BBC Conservatives” (i.e. establishment Conservatives) back establishment forces who want the Conservative Party to LOOSE elections.

    It really is as blatant as that.

    BBC Conservatives back forces (such as the education system and the BBC) who work every day for the Conservative Party to LOSE elections.

    Self destructive.

  • Cesare

    4 words…’What’s the frequency, Kenneth?’

  • Runcie Balspune

    I’ve noticed a trend towards people who were “banished” for their misdeeds slowly creeping back into the public spotlight, in a misguided belief that the current Twitter generation have no idea who they are and what they’ve done to earn such disgrace. Seeing as the most worthwhile information on the web is being given a leftist sheen by willing globalists, it tasks all of us to dig up the sh*t that long fell off these putrid vile examples of humanity and expose them once again.

    Consider Mr Blair, an erstwhile warmonger and scion of the wet left, now adopting an hardline anti-democratic attitude as he tries to reinvent his career, secure his paycheck, and rage about the unfairness of Brexit to the uneducated, the irony being that if his administration hadn’t subverted the electorate by busing in huge numbers of Labour voting immigrants, we probably wouldn’t be at this juncture in the first place.

    You know the world is turning faster when all the little cockroaches start getting flung out of the woodwork.

  • Watchman


    I don’t think there’s any milage in looking for a phone tap on a private individual – it’s likely the tap was on an embassy line (and if the US is not tapping the Russian embassy, then there’s something wrong).

    That would be significant though – if a senior Russian diplomat was involved in discussing something sensitive and important, I am guessing they would not use a line that they knew would be tapped. So it suggests that this is hardly the smoking gun that links Trump to Putin, unless Russian intelligence is rapidly losing its (normally quite paranoid I believe) touch.

  • Watchman

    Incidentally, the BBC has to take complaints about its journalism seriously. If anyone is bored this evening (not me – I have a full social life you know (and I need to clean the bathroom…)) then maybe send them a complaint about this and see how they respond. Could be entertaining.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    I do have to question whether Rather’s career came to an ‘abrupt’ end; he was eased out over about a year, IIRC. He certainly wasn’t presented with the cardboard box for his personal belongings and the Security escort out of the building which he truly deserved.

  • Alisa

    That was probably as abrupt as it could get, all things considered. On the bright side, we did get a few years of a break from him.

  • Alisa

    Watchman, the point here is not of tapping the phone line – which, as you say, is probably a routine practice. Rather, it is the singling-out of this particular recording from all the other conversations by the Russian ambassador. But I do take your point that this is not as similar to Watergate as it seemed to me at first glance.

    Your second point is also convincing.

  • bobby b

    “I do have to question whether Rather’s career came to an ‘abrupt’ end . . .”

    I think his career did actually come to a very abrupt end. He was a laughingstock almost immediately.

    His job situation took some time to resolve due to legal considerations, but his career . . .

    (NSA picks up almost all overseas calls – no need for a tapped line – and separates out by keywords what it deems important. NSA clearly picked up this call and then shared it with other agencies per Obama’s near-last act in office of authorizing such sharing. This is Bizarro-Watergate, with the old government burglarizing the new government.)

  • Alisa

    ‘Overseas calls’ – wasn’t this call made to/from Russian embassy in DC? Not sure the distinction is important, though…

  • Alisa

    BTW, the BBC now says that Putin no longer likes Trump – does that mean that it (the BBC) now likes him (Trump)? Don’t answer that.

  • bobby b

    ” . . . wasn’t this call made to/from Russian embassy in DC . . . “

    Yes, but my understanding is that calls on high-level Russian embassy lines are simultaneously live direct to Russia for monitoring purposes unless specifically cut off for security, and that there was nothing about this call that was sensitive enough to trigger the cut-off. Which sort of belies the kerfuffle about what was discussed, in my mind.

  • Alisa

    Right, that was the point Watchman made as well.

  • Fraser Orr

    wasn’t this call made to/from Russian embassy in DC

    Technically, that is a call to a foreign country (the embassy being Russian territory.)

  • Alisa

    Technically it is – but it is hardly overseas, even technically 😛

    In any case, my question was just on a point of information. I’m also not quite clear which agency is in charge of listening to what types of conversations – but hey who cares, as long as these guys keep us safe from those dastardly Russians.

  • Alisa

    OK, this Flynn affair is a gift that just keeps giving:

    Former U.S. officials also said aggressive enforcement would probably discourage appropriate contact. Michael McFaul, who served as U.S. ambassador to Russia during the Obama administration, said that he was in Moscow meeting with officials in the weeks leading up to Obama’s 2008 election win.

    “As a former diplomat and U.S. government official, one needs to be able to have contact with foreigners to do one’s job,” McFaul said. McFaul, a Russia scholar, said he was careful never to signal pending policy changes before Obama took office.

    Unlike Obama himself?

  • Tarrou

    Whoda thunk that the famous line about interviewing people would one day be used on journalists?

    Because when I see anything on the news, anything at all, all I think is “who is this fucking liar and what is he lying about?”

    It’s a crude model, but it has been right, by my calculations, 100% of the time in the past decade.

  • Erik

    I understand that this is a media strategy of trying to create apparent chaos and scandal where none exists, but the rank dishonesty of it really takes my breath away.

    Of course, Trump hasn’t exactly helped matters with his extremely belligerent approach. But I honestly thing that “that is what he was going for.” The hysteria is so high that should a real scandal break I don’t think we’d even notice.

    I think that’s definitely what he was going for, or at least one of the things he’s going for. The man has been consistently underestimated. Persistently, frequently, repeatedly-like-unto-definition-of-insanity, vastly underestimated. I remember headline after headline of “Trump will never run… Trump is a joke candidate… Trump has peaked… Trump will drop out any day now… this is surely the end for Trump’s campaign… there is no way Trump can recover from this… Trump’s vulgar remarks are driving away voters… Trump has no idea what he’s doing… Trump destroyed his chances by insulting (Muslims/Mexicans/McCain/Miscellaneous)… Trump’s Six Stages of Doom…”

    Conclusion: Trump knows what he’s doing. One does not accidentally bungle one’s way into the Presidency. Whatever reaction he gets, I should assume it’s what he was going for, and my next question is why.

    And I suspect it may be a plan to curb the Fourth Estate, perhaps by making it a literal estate to some degree, such as by nationalizing or heavily regulating the press. As you say, hysteria is high, and there’s not much space for it to go higher. The Lügenpresse has blown their wad, alienated moderates, and undermined their own standing on free speech with their assaults against “hate speech” and “corporate personhood”. For example, imagine Trump issues an executive order demanding every newspaper article must be in the name of a specific human person responsible and sue-able for that article. I imagine the NYT will suddenly print a lot fewer articles about controversial subjects.

    This is all speculation, of course. But Trump is winning and the press is flailing.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    And I suspect it may be a plan to curb the Fourth Estate

    Well, since Heller made it constitutional to require licensing before a constitutional right can be exercised, Trump should be OK if he wants to require journalists to be licensed; said license to be revocable for cause, of course. Horrible policy, but it’s great fun to imagine the congressional hearings leading up to its being voted down; Congressmen giving spittle-flecked lectures about ‘the pornography of violence’ to publishers, sort of thing.

  • Laird

    PfP, that’s not exactly how I would characterize Heller, although I get your point. But I can’t see Trump trying that. He’s doing a fine job of marginalizing the mainstream media (even the Wall Street Journal and Fox News, for goodness’ sake!) as it is; seeking licensing or some such restriction would be gilding the lilly and might actually create some sympathy for the media. That’s the last thing he would want. Look at the angst he caused by refusing to call on the “reporters” from the 3 major networks at his press conference on Thursday. He is enjoying this immensely, and will undoubtedly continue to poke at them. And they will continue to take the bait and makes themselves look foolish.

    I agree with Erik: Trump has been consistently underestimated, and he didn’t win either the nomination or the election by chance. The man has skills, and he’s playing a deep game, even if we don’t yet know his ultimate objectives. He’s not playing it perfectly, to be sure; there’s still a learning curve once he got into the White House. But if history is any guide he’s a quick study and will quickly put those few bumps behind him. The next few months should be interesting.

  • Slartibartfarst

    @Perry de Havilland:
    Nice catch. Thanks for publishing it on this blog for our collective attention. Very interesting. I think you should beware, if you are not already.

    A professional news service that deliberately promotes and puts forward someone as being some kind of an arbiter of truth, when in fact they know full well that he is quite scandalously the opposite, would seem to be an example of corruption/sickness of bias. They are creating fake/imaginary/dishonest news reports.

    By that definition then, the Beeb could arguably be described as being sick and it could thus be pernicious to the community at large, yet, despite this being fully understood by a government that apparently supports it and forces the taxpayer to continue to pay for such exorbitantly expensive dross, the sick creature is permitted to live, rather than be put out of its misery. The importance of the BBC World Service role during WW2 and the Cold War, as a key Home Office tool for the promulgation of overseas and local propaganda and disinformation, is arguably over (or maybe not?).

    One would hope though, that there is method to be found in such apparent madness by government, but I can’t see it yet.

    However, I could quite understand it if, (say) the Beeb and other MSM folk are now even more openly hostile to Trump, because he has not only defeated their egos (by proving them wrong, and this on the back of Brexit) and openly criticised them for being a pack of liars, but also he has now apparently started to openly disintermediate them from the news supply-chain that they thought they had a monopoly on.

    We saw how, in the late ’90s, the WWW/Internet started to enable supply-chain disintermediation, and it has proved to be an enormous boon to the market – consumers and producers – over the last 20 years. No-one in their right minds would want to turn back from it now – even if its remorseless change could be turned back.

    The potential for disintermediAtion of the news supply-chain has been little different – has already been realised to some extent (as witness the slow death of newsprint) – but the MSM have been protected by political groups acting as paymasters and wishing to control that flow of information, keeping the MSM still relevant, but not yet dead, though in reduced profit.

    It is thus now a matter of survival for the MSM, and I predict that we shall see an increase in BS and fake/imaginary news from them, and even more fascistic declarations, as they struggle viciously and violently to attain/maintain the role of “official” government-paid and/or government-sanctioned purveyors/organs of “truthiness” (such a lovely term coined by such a lovely, honest person).
    That would seem to be the only bolt-hole they have left to run to, and one cannot expect them to “…go gentle into that good night”.

    In the MSM’s death throes, news and political discussion forums on blogs – such as (say) Samizdata, for example – may well come under increased attack (from the MSM and hostile government scrutiny and legislation), because such forums/blogs are open and the better and publicly-preferred evolved substitute for the disappointingly mendacious and failed MSM dinosaurs. It’s likely to get a lot messier and bloody before the MSM are forced to let go, and those of us who actually are interested in and concerned to maintain a free and unencumbered press probably need to help expedite the MSM’s passing.