Print newsmen rap Rather’s Letterman appearance

Dan Rather‘s tearful appearance on David Letterman‘s show Monday night has generated a host of critical letters on the Poynter Institute’s MediaNews Web site, overseen by Jim Romenesko. Jim Evans, a staff writer for the Sacramento News & Review, particularly objected to Rather‘s response to Letterman‘s question about what motivated the attackers (“Well, because they’re evil.”) “It was shocking to hear someone who’s been around as long as Rather give such a simplistic answer to a question so complex,” Evans wrote.

Chris Frink of the Baton Rouge Advocate agreed, adding that “Dan truly floored me when he repeated an unsubstantiated rumor about members of another terrorist cell watching the New York attacks … and rejoicing. … Presenting it as a rumor does not make spreading a mere rumor correct.” But Patrick Ogle of the Miami Herald asked to be spared “the bulls*** … from a procession of yammering, long-winded ‘experts.’ … It seems to me that ‘They are evil’ is as good an off-the-cuff, one-sentence response to the question ‘Why?’ as any.”