Dan Quite, 89, is a veteran broadcast journalist and former anchor of the “CBS Night Information.” He left the community in 2006 following a controversial 2004 report for “60 Minutes” on President George W. Bush’s Air Nationwide Guard service that was primarily based on unverified paperwork. Quite lives in Texas.
Query: You have been on this enterprise for seven many years. I’m wondering in case you may give some perspective on how 2020 compares to tough instances the nation has confronted previously?
Reply: I do suppose we have to remind ourselves that we now have as a rustic, as a folks, been by way of some very tough instances previously. Simply in my lifetime we had a mixture of the Nice Melancholy and World Warfare II. The Nineteen Sixties had been a really tough time for the nation. We had been very divided within the latter a part of the Nineteen Sixties, with very severe race riots. We had some public demonstrations concerning the struggle, we had the assassinations of two Kennedys, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X. Within the mid-Seventies, the widespread felony conspiracy led by the president that we name for shorthand “Watergate” had the nation in a severe constitutional disaster.
We have seen rain, we have seen fireplace, we have seen tough instances earlier than, however little doubt about it – 2020 was tough. In some methods it was uniquely tough, I believe, when it comes to each the spirit and tone and substance of the presidency. We nonetheless have a number of crises happening. A great deal of that may be rooted, for my part, in a crises of knowledge and the reality. We have seen the pandemic, the marketing campaign and now, as you and I communicate within the aftermath of the election, we have seen very clearly how the sinister function of propaganda has affected our nationwide discourse. That, sadly, has been one of many signatures of 2020. Lies are spreading quicker than mildew in a moist basement.
Q: How can we flip round from that?
A: Effectively, that is the important thing query transferring ahead. And it begins with – we now have to acknowledge that there are a number of culprits answerable for what we simply outlined as our issues. Let’s have it mentioned straight out for what it’s: It begins with the president of the USA. We even have to take a look at the foremost disseminators and amplifiers of those lies, significantly social media. And, you already know, I do suppose going ahead that we now have to remember some truths, some particular truths. For example, we Individuals are deep down in the primary and by a big majority, a superb and first rate folks. So what can we do going ahead? I do not wish to be sophomoric within the reply in any manner, however I believe it begins with asking your self: “What can I do to assist any individual else? What can I do to assist my neighbors, and exhibit – not simply discuss, however exhibit – love for his or her households and love for our nation?”
However folks should base selections on details. So, you already know, we will not all agree on what the reality is. And the reality is definitely not straightforward to discern. However there are truths, and attending to details and again to the premise of details and fact is clearly essential going ahead. In lots of vital methods, particularly with the pandemic and with the insurance policies and statements being so poisonous this final yr, goal fact is below assault. And we now have to only preserve reminding ourselves that, sure, there are some issues that aren’t clear, however there are details. Two and two doesn’t equal 5. Water doesn’t run uphill. Sadly, in a few of this yr, an effort was made to persuade us in any other case. However we all know higher, and we will help ourselves going ahead by reminding ourselves of that.
One other factor to remember is that we do have systemic injustices within the nation. Many of those stretch again to the very starting of the republic. And we now have not reckoned with them totally. We have reckoned with them sporadically and generally successfully, however we’ve not reckoned with them totally, and they’re a deep undertow to progress. And whenever you add the propaganda to injustice, it is a very potent, poisonous combine. And so going ahead, the quicker we will acknowledge that as the truth, the higher we’ll be.
Q: How do you suppose President Trump goes to be judged by historical past?
A: Let the file present I pause, as a result of it is at all times very tough to know and even precisely guess how historical past goes to evaluate a presidency. Nevertheless it’s very tough for me to imagine – in truth, I do not imagine – that historical past goes to be something however exceptionally harsh on President Trump and his presidency. Each for the tone and the substance of it and for the injury carried out to our establishments. And that features, you already know, virtually each one of many establishments which makes our constitutional republic, primarily based on the ideas of freedom and democracy, distinctive. He attacked anyone and everyone who disagreed with him, together with members of the judiciary, members of Congress, the press. He did immense injury to the establishments, and that injury cannot be repaired very simply.
Q: You wrote a e-book in 2017, “What Unites Us,” and at that time you expressed nice religion within the resilience of America. Nevertheless it looks like we’re extra divided now, and I’m wondering in case you nonetheless have that religion?
A: Completely. I do have a deep and abiding religion in our capability for resilience. And I did write that in 2017 and fairly agree that since I wrote it that resilience has been put to some extreme and tough assessments. However I believe I do know America, and I believe I do know my fellow Individuals, and we do have a resilience in us. What we now have to do is mount that resilience. It is one factor to say we now have it and to say that our entire historical past signifies that we’re resilient folks. However each technology has to exhibit it anew. Right here we’re transferring into the third decade of the twenty first century, and that is the query: Can we nonetheless have that resilience? Can we nonetheless mount that resilience? I am an optimist by nature and by expertise, and I believe we do, however we’re about to seek out out.
Q: Do you suppose the division within the nation is as fierce as it’s portrayed, or have politicians and others have actually ramped up that sense of division?
A: Effectively, there isn’t any query that politicians and a few others have exacerbated the divisions within the nation. And, sure, in some methods on some days, I believe maybe it has been exaggerated, together with possibly exaggerated within the press. Nevertheless, the election outcomes give me pause. Earlier than the election returns had been identified, I’d give a barely completely different reply. If you happen to learn the election returns, there have been greater than 70 million individuals who voted to return Donald Trump to the presidency. This has me rethinking how actually deep and large divisions are. I am sorry to say that, and I would like to be confirmed flawed, however I believe the election speaks loud and clear. , the divisions are actually, actually deep and large, and it should require the whole lot we will muster to – we will not get rid of them, however to scale back them.
Now, I do know there’s a number of discuss that Joe Biden is simply the person to do this. And I’ve nice respect for Vice President Biden. I’ve identified him because the ’60s or ’70s. He is an effective and first rate man, but it surely takes greater than presidential management. Let’s hope and pray that we now have robust presidential management, and I believe Joe Biden is able to doing that. However as highly effective because the presidency is, no president and no presidential administration is stronger than the nation as a complete. So, it is all nicely and good to hope and pray, as I say, that Joe Biden can lead the nation again from the abyss of the divisions. However I attempt to remind myself, you already know, it is lower than different folks as a lot as it’s as much as me and every particular person.
Q: President-elect Biden has talked about this being a time for therapeutic. What form do you suppose that may take?
A: It begins with listening to folks, and significantly listening to individuals who have completely different factors of view. And to pay attention doesn’t suggest that you simply agree. However to reply your query, I believe therapeutic can begin by actually listening to 1 one other. Typically you hear folks, however you do not actually pay attention – listening to 1 one other and looking for frequent floor. I do suppose we want each within the political sphere and in each sphere within the nation an perspective of: “Pay attention, you and I could disagree about 100 issues, and we’re not going to agree about these. Let’s discover one factor that we will agree on that’s frequent floor and work on it.”
Q: You talked concerning the 70 million individuals who voted for President Trump. What message would you may have for them?
A: The message I’ve for them is that I don’t hate you. I do not even dislike you. I do know that Fox Information within the prime-time hours has been saying to their listeners, ‘They hate you, the press hates you, everybody on the market hates you.’ I begin with the message that I wish to pay attention, I wish to hear what it’s important to say. I wish to know what actually bothers you. I wish to know what you suppose must be modified. My message is, I am listening. I am of open thoughts and open coronary heart. That does not imply I will agree or surrender with my ideas, however I actually wish to discover frequent floor.
What I am listening to from lots of people who voted for Trump each instances is that there have been a number of issues about Trump that they did not like, however they did suppose that a lot of his financial coverage labored. Now others, together with myself, can disagree with that if we’d. However there was tendency to suppose that overwhelmingly the individuals who voted for Trump favored his bombastic type. That does not match my reporting.
Q: For a lot of reporters, 2020 has been exhausting. I puzzled if there was any time you ever thought of strolling away from journalism?
A: By no means. Completely by no means. , I’ve a number of flaws, and I’ve made a number of errors. However, you already know, I do love reporting information and have since I used to be a toddler. However I’ve by no means, by no means thought-about for a nanosecond strolling away from it. I really like doing it. Though generally when it is tough, the tendency for me is to not wish to stroll away from it, I simply wish to go full throttle ahead and simply plunge into it. Significantly this final yr, yr and a half. Come on, Joe, you already know that in case you’re a reporter, your prayer is, “God, give me the massive story.” Now, as a result of we’re all a little bit grasping, we pray proper behind that, “And by the way in which, Lord, in case you give me the massive story, may you please enable me to be at or close to my finest within the huge story?”