During the headier days of his 24-years as CBS news anchor, Dan Rather was called the "voice of God" of American prime time television. But when he made his final send-off on March 9, his exit was rather less exalted.
His departure, a year before his original retirement date, was the result of a flawed report last September on President George W. Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard that solidified the anchor's reputation as a favorite target for conservative media critics.
After four decades as a reporter and anchor, and a career which spanned the Kennedy assassination, Watergate, Tiananmen Square and the Iraq war, that one mistake could now define Rather's tenure at CBS.
ILLUSTRATION: JUNE HSU
His leaving was given an additional dose of bitterness on Monday when Walter Cronkite, 86, who was dubbed the most trusted man in the US until Rather replaced him at the helm of CBS in 1981, said the anchor should have been replaced years ago.
"It surprised quite a few people at CBS and elsewhere that, without being able to pull up the ratings beyond third in a three-man field, that they tolerated his being there for so long," Cronkite told CNN.
Cronkite's shellacking came just days after he attacked Rather, 73, in the latest issue of the New Yorker, saying Rather always appears to be playing a newsman on the evening newscasts while his counterparts at ABC and NBC appeared to actually be that.
Other colleagues were also quick to criticize. In another New Yorker article last week, Mike Wallace, co-editor of the 60 Minutes investigation program, called Rather's on-air persona "uptight" and "contrived."
Even so, Rather's exit from the nightly news has been greeted in the US media as the end of an era.
The tributes have been accompanied by debate on the diminishing influence of CBS -- and Rather's role in its decline -- and of the big three networks overall because of the rise of cable.
There has also been scrutiny of Rather's occasionally testy on-air exchanges with Republican presidents, which made him a prime target of conservative critics of the so-called "liberal" media.
Rather rejects the charge. "I am independent and fiercely independent. It's the role of movements and partisan political organizations to apply the pressure and to try and intimidate.
"It is the job of the journalist in a free society to say `no,'" he told the Boston Globe in a farewell interview. "I haven't stopped trying."
Most of all, however, the passing of this American icon will be viewed in relation to the controversy that erupted last autumn when the network's 60 Minutes investigative program aired a report about President Bush's military service.
Although the network scored a small scoop by persuading a former Texas lieutenant governor, Ben Barnes, to admit on camera that he had used influence to get Bush into the Texas Air National Guard, it also relied on forged documents.
Those documents put forward an even more damaging charge: that Bush, once guaranteed an out from the Vietnam war, did not fulfill his duties in the national guard.
Fuelled by right-wing blogs, the story became a controversy almost overnight. CBS, and Rather himself, defended the report for 12 days, before reversing course and ordering an investigation.
The report, when it emerged last January, was scathing about news judgments at CBS, and gave a mixed verdict on Rather, saying he was too busy chasing hurricane stories in Florida to review sources.
Officially, Rather has returned to work as a full-time reporter, and has seven reports recorded for 60 Minutes as he seizes a last chance to repair his legacy.
Chinese strongman Xi Jinping (習近平) hasn’t had a very good spring, either economically or politically. Not that long ago, he seemed to be riding high. The PRC economy had been on a long winning streak of more than six percent annual growth, catapulting the world’s most populous nation into the second-largest power, behind only the United States. Hundreds of millions had been brought out of poverty. Beijing’s military too had emerged as the most powerful in Asia, lagging only behind the US, the long-time leader on the global stage. One can attribute much of the recent downturn to the international economic
Taiwan has for decades singlehandedly borne the brunt of a revanchist, ultra-nationalist China — until now. Ever since Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had the temerity to call for a transparent, international investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, Beijing has been turning the screws on Canberra. This has included unleashing aggressive “wolf warrior” diplomats to intimidate Australian policymakers, enacting punitive tariffs on its exports, and threatening an embargo on Chinese tourists and students to the nation. A tense situation became more serious on June 19 after Morrison revealed that a “sophisticated state-based actor” — read: China — had launched a
Asked whether he declined to impose sanctions against China, US President Donald Trump said: “Well, we were in the middle of a major trade deal... [W]hen you’re in the middle of a negotiation and then all of a sudden you start throwing additional sanctions on — we’ve done a lot.” It was not a proud moment for Trump or the US. Yet, just three days later, John Bolton’s replacement as director of the National Security Council, Robert O’Brien, delivered a powerful indictment of the Chinese communist government and criticized prior administrations’ “passivity” in the face of Beijing’s contraventions of international law