Dan Rather speaks to students and teachers [with audio]

Levi Schoeben, Author

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Dan Rather,  journalist and former news anchor for CBS, spoke over the phone with U.S. history teacher David Rapaport to a group of Palo Alto High School students and teachers at lunch Tuesday in room 308.
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Above is an audio recording of Rather’s discussion separated into the main topics he spoke about.

Rapaport set up two speakers and a microphone, as well as a recording device, to allow for his room of Paly listeners to be part of the discussion-based phone call. Rapaport had a series of questions he wanted to ask Dan Rather who was calling from his office at HDnet where he produces Dan Rather’s Reports. The time allocated for the phone call was limited so Rapaport preparation helped facilitate Rather’s discussion.

Rapaport quickly addressed his first question for Rather: “Who do you think will win the election?” Rather repeatedly emphasized that this year’s election will be very close. He added that currently Mitt Romney had a very slight advantage with the nationwide popular vote, while President Obama had an equally slight advantage with the electoral college vote.

With Rapaport’s leading question, Rather brought up that he believes this year’s election will come down to three swing states: Florida, Virginia and Ohio.

“Ohio may turn out to be the most important, the equivalent of what Florida was in the 2000 election,” Rather said. “No Republican presidential candidate has ever been elected president without carrying Ohio.”

Rather continued to say that Ohio is essential for Mitt Romney to win; however, it is possible that Obama could win without carrying Ohio, according to a mathematical calculation of electoral college votes.

Rapaport moved on to ask Rather to share some of his opinions on Obama’s biggest mistakes during his four year term, as stated in Rather’s book, Rather Outspoken: My Life in the News. Rather started by clarifying that Obama not only came into office as the least experience political candidate, but also came into office with an inherited economic crises.

“He should have made jobs, jobs, jobs and the economy his number one priority,” Rather said. “He made national health care his number one priority… and I think that was a mistake.”

The topic shifted to voter suppression, which Rather believes will be a contributing factor in this year’s election. Rather talked about how the voter identification laws will hurt typically those of poorer areas, individuals of color and the elderly.

“These groups tend to vote democratic, therefore a Republican candidate will tend to suppress these votes,” Rather said.

The conversation moved on to Rather’s explanation of how he dealt with reporting the John Fitzgerald Kennedy assassination on that dreadful day.

Rather said that at the time of the murder and still to this day, he believes Lee Harvey Oswald was a shooter and was the only shooter that afternoon.

“One has to intelligently look at the evidence of each conspiracy at what might have been — could have been, but the evidence is simply not there to conclude it [the conspiracies are true],” Rather said.

Rapaport asked his final question.

“What can we, the citizenry can do, when news sources are influenced by the bottom line and not the public interest,” said Rapaport

Rather responded with three key points from an ever-long list of what the citizenry can do:

1. Work at it
2. Reject the notion that money can buy everything and that money can justify everything
3. Get involved

“We cannot change — you cannot change the political system and the deep corruption that exists in modern American politics, unless you get actively involved,” said Rather.

Rapaport ended the call by complimenting Rather’s book and thanking him for his time.

 

Related links:

Dan Rather’s Official Web page 

David Rapaport’s personal experience talking with Dan Rather