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Interview with Dan Rather (1974)
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  • Highlights
    The Scene at 5 as a new program on Houston's KPRC-TV, also known as TV 2
    Dan Rather discusses the responsibility of journalists as watchdogs. He was the chief White House correspondent for CBS News at the time. Rather's comment about not being "out to get this or any other president" is likely in reference to his famous exchange with President Richard Nixon during the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Houston on March 19, 1974. 
    Steve Smith began his broadcast career in the 1960s as a news anchor for KPRC-TV. He retired in 1991 as lead anchor for KHOU-TV. Doug Johnson was a weatherman for KPRC-TV from 1962 to 1995. 
  • Transcript
    I can understand how some people feel that. Because we, myself included, have not done as good a job as we should explaining what the job of a reporter is and what journalism is about.
    I mean, how I see myself, is as a watchdog. I'm not an attack dog—I'm not out to get anybody—but I'm not a lapdog either. That is to say, that I don't seek every day just to be petted and take anything that's given to me.
    My job is a watchdog. If I see something suspicious, I see my job is to bark and to keep on barking until somebody's attention is there. That isn't to say that each time there's something there. But that's how I see it. 
    Now I'm not out to get this or any other president. I would like to believe, I hope that I'm unmoved by presidential hostility or flattery. 
    My goal is to get as close to the truth as I possibly can, to tell it as straight as I am humanly able and as fair as I possibly can, to be held accountable for what I say, when I make a mistake to acknowledge it, not to be arrogant, but not to allow myself to be pushed around either.
    This goes with the territory of being a reporter, whether you're covering the city hall here or the state legislature or the White House.