In what seems like an article written by the satirical website The Babylon Bee, the University of Texas-Austin’s Moody College of Communications (MCC) has announced a journalism award named after disgraced news anchor Dan Rather.
Rather famously “retired” after reporting on unverified documents purporting to show that President George W. Bush received preferential treatment and served poorly during his time in the Air National Guard. Rather presented the documents as authentic and defended them even as other media outlets noted issues with the memos. The phrase “fake but accurate” was born from this scandal.
Despite this, Rather has enjoyed a pretty decent comeback in the past decade, routinely being brought on as a journalism expert for left-leaning networks. He is also a member of the MCC’s advisory board. In Rather’s biography on its website, the MCC completely ignores the scandal, instead discussing his career before and after it. Bush is only mentioned once in the biography, among a list of presidents that Rather had interviewed.
Now the MCC is naming a journalism award after the company Rather founded in 2006 – two years after the scandal. The company is called News and Guts, and the MCC is calling its new award the Dan Rather Medals for News and Guts.
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
This is the description of the award on the MCC website:
The Dan Rather Medals for News and Guts honor the process of journalism as much as the end product. They will be awarded to professional and collegiate journalists who go the extra yard — overcoming obstacles like stonewalling and harassment — to get the story that tells truth to power.
The Medals are named for Dan Rather, the legendary reporter and anchor who went far afield from his Texan roots but never forgot his humble beginnings. He has been an ardent supporter of the School of Journalism and Media, inspiring and advocating for our majors. He is a permanent member of the Moody College of Communication’s Advisory Council, where he has been instrumental in its extraordinary development. The School and the College sponsor the Dan Rather Medals for News and Guts to further his goal of supporting and defending bravery and excellence in journalism in the face of overwhelming odds. While journalism and journalists have long been under constant fire from the powerful, recognizing those who show “News and Guts” has never been more important than it is today.
As Rather once said, “News organizations and teams within those organizations have to have the guts and the backbone to dig into stories that people in power don’t want the public to know.” These medals in his name, to be presented to professional and college journalists, honor that effort.
The award provides $5,000 to each recipient and includes a prize for professional and student journalists.