Former CBS anchor Dan Rather had some stern words for those we've seen on the television lately beating the drums for war.
August 25, 2014

Here's something we don't hear often enough from the talking heads in our media. As Tom Kludt at TPM pointed out, about the only person we've heard something similar from was Katrina vanden Heuvel when she told Bloody Bill Kristol to go enlist in the Iraqi army if he was so gung ho for more war.

Dan Rather To Hawkish Pundits: Send Your Kids To War Or 'Don't Even Talk To Me':

Dan Rather doesn't want to hear you, the hawkish pundit who's been all over cable news lately, tell us that the United States should "do something" in Iraq or Syria or Ukraine — not unless you're willing to enlist your own kid first.

CNN's Brian Stelter asked the former CBS News anchor on Sunday if he's heard a "drum beat to war" in recent weeks. The question caused Rather to shed his "journalist hat for a moment," before issuing a challenge to the pro-war voices who have only grown more ubiquitous on television lately.

Here's the full transcript from this Sunday's Reliable Sources on CNN:

STELTER: Let me ask you about the television and the media coverage of the past few days since the horrible ISIS video was shown to the world of Jim Foley's beheading. What have you heard? What have you sensed? I know you would hear a drumbeat to war if you heard it. So, have you?

RATHER: Well, absolutely.

Look, the war drums have been beating along the Potomac for some little while, accentuated in recent weeks and now in recent days. As a citizen -- let me take my journalist hat off for a moment. But, as a citizen, this worries me a great deal, because, as a journalist, you have seen war zones.

I'm not padding my part here, but I have seen war up close, not like combatants do, but the savagery, the brutality of war once we put the nation at war, that all of these people on television, some of whom I have enormous respect for, but it unsettles me to hear them say, listen, we, we, the United States, we have to -- quote -- "do something" in Ukraine, we have to do something in Syria, we have to do something in the waters around China, we have to do something about what is happening in Yemen, we have to do something in Iraq, we have to do something about ISIS, what they are talking about are combat operations.

My first question to anyone who is on television saying, we have to get tough, we need to put boots on the ground and we need to go to war in one of these places is, I will hear you out if you tell me you are prepared to send your son, your daughter, your grandson, your granddaughter to that war of which you are beating the drums. If you aren't, I have no patience with you, and don't even talk to me.

STELTER: It worries me, too, Dan, to be completely honest.

It worries me that I hear so many more voices on television that are advocating for action than I do hear voices of people who are trying to push on the brakes, push on the brakes. And it is somewhat reminiscent of 2002 and 2003 in the run-up to what was a, of course, much, much bigger U.S. military action in Iraq than anything that is being contemplated now.

RATHER: Well, there are echoes of what we went through.

And those of us in journalism -- and I can include myself in this -- we have a lot to answer for about what we didn't do and what we did do in the run-up to the war in Iraq, which I think history will judge to be a strategic disaster of historic proportions.

We journalists, including this one, we didn't ask the right questions. We didn't ask enough questions. We didn't ask the follow- up questions. We did not challenge power. And I am concerned that, once again, as the war drums begin to beat and get louder and louder, that there will be a herd mentality of saying, well, we have to go to war in Syria, we have to go to war Ukraine.

I don't think it is an overstatement to say that we need to be thinking very, very carefully and seriously about this and journalists have the special responsibility to at least ask the right questions.

STELTER: Dan Rather, I'm so grateful we got to talk about this, this morning. Thank you for joining me.

RATHER: Thank you, Brian. Always good to be with you.


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