Considering the 2004 “fake but accurate” scandal involving former CBS News anchor Dan Rather’s fake news “reporting” on President Bush’s National Guard service, you’d think no journalism school worth its salt would have the gall to actually create awards in his honor, but one did.
The University of Texas at Austin’s Moody College of Communication announced Wednesday in a pinned tweet that they were “introducing” several Dan Rather “Medals for News and Guts” awards, not just for college students but also for “professional journalists who overcome obstacles like stonewalling and harassment”:
We are introducing the @DanRather Medals for News and Guts to recognize collegiate and professional journalists who overcome obstacles like stonewalling and harassment to speak truth to power.
— TEXAS Moody (@UTexasMoody) December 16, 2020
Rather is a Texas native.
The school further explained the rationale behind the decision to create these awards on their website:
Dan Rather is now more than an icon — he’s the namesake of new awards honoring his career and the work of today’s journalists. The Moody College of Communication and the School of Journalism and Media at The University of Texas at Austin have established the Dan Rather Medals for News and Guts to recognize collegiate and professional journalists who overcome obstacles like stonewalling and harassment to speak truth to power.
The medals, to be awarded annually, further Rather’s goal of supporting and defending excellence in journalism by recognizing those journalists who defy overwhelming odds to report on important stories — no matter the size of their newsrooms. Thus, the medals honor relentless reporting as well as exceptional content, such as text, audio, broadcast, video or graphics. The competition awards $5,000 each in the collegiate and professional categories. For the inaugural competition, there is no monetary fee for professional or collegiate entries.
The jokes just wrote themselves on this one:
It should be “The Dan Rather Medal for Excellence in Forgery” perhaps?
— I Hate The Media 🇺🇸 (@ihatethemedia) December 16, 2020
Next up: The Brian Williams Award for Journalistic Integrity https://t.co/LgpXFC3NSn
— PragerU (@prageru) December 16, 2020
This is like making a Joe Biden Medal for Giving Women Personal Space https://t.co/GkfMAVYpa8
— Stranger Claus (@lone_rides) December 16, 2020
Reading about this story made me think about actual journalism professors who have behaved badly, including NYU Professor Jay Rosen (example below):
Again, it’s not that hard to maintain a sense of proportion. Biden made some false claims. Trump was a serial liar.
Perfection may sound like an unreasonable standard, but it’s not. An outstanding candidate can get through a debate without making a claim the checkers will flag. https://t.co/lE0Z4NMG7N
— Jay Rosen (@jayrosen_nyu) October 23, 2020
… and this Morgan State University journalism prof, who acted like a complete jack-ass over the death of outspoken UNC-Wilmington Professor Mike Adams:
Yes, and as a journalism professor, I believe in communicating facts, which is how I described Adams. Sorry that he passed away, but the truth is the man was a jerk!
— docrod2008 (@docrod2008) July 24, 2020
It’s hardly a wonder why the journalism profession is in the sad, sorry state it’s in when you read tweets like Rosen’s, the Morgan State prof’s, and the Moody School’s. I mean, these people are responsible for educating future media figures. Think about it.
Rather has maintained that the memos he used to substantiate his “report” on the 2004 allegations against President Bush were never conclusively shown to be forgeries, and to this day believes they were authentic and credible. It remains to be seen if a degree from the Moody Comms school will still be regarded as authentic and credible after this, however.