From Politico: In any event, Rather what he meant today on Huffington Post:
I was talking about Obama and health care and I used the analogy of selling watermelons by the side of the road. It's an expression that stretches to my boyhood roots in Southeast Texas, when country highways were lined with stands manned by sellers of all races. Now of course watermelons have become a stereotype for African Americans and so my analogy entered a charged environment. I'm sorry people took offense.
But anyone who knows me personally or knows my professional career would know that race was not on my mind. Reporting on the injustices of race was part of the reason I became a reporter. I grew up in segregated Texas on the same side of the tracks as the African American community. At the time, enlightened people called them Negros. Many people called them much worse. When I covered the Civil Rights movement, I saw sheer hatred in ways that still haunt and shock me. For doing my small part in reporting on the South in the 1960s, I was called a traitor to my roots and other names not fit for print. I was threatened with death by people who would have welcomed me to their church on Sunday on account of my white skin if they didn't know what I was there to do. I do not take this issue lightly.
Rather, who said he doesn’t really understand Twitter—where this mini-controversy gained more steam—found this to be a good time to comment on the state of the media.
“What saddens me is what this experience has made all too clear,” Rather wrote. “Much of what we call news, isn't. Much of what we Tweet, or post, or chat away at under the guise of news, are distractions.”
Rather’s comment doesn’t quite pass the smell test for me. What he was doing was trying to create an analogy that painted Republicans as racists and the statement totally backfired on him. There is a very good reason why our parents tell us not to play with matches, Dan.
Now knowing what Dan was up to, you have to wonder what kind of things are going on inside that head of his, that he can come up with such an image of Obama selling watermelons. Perhaps, this is a Keith Olbermann moment and Rather was simply getting in touch with his inner racist.
One thing I do agree with Rather on, much of what passes for news today simply isn’t news. That is because much of the media is so into promoting narratives that proves their worldview. If the media would get back to simply reporting the facts and letting us do the analysis and the opining ourselves, they would once again have value to the public.