When Dan Rather spoke, America listened.
In the twilight decades of the 20th century, there were only so many ways to get the news. The CBS Evening News, which Rather anchored for 24 years, was one of the major ones. Along with Tom Brokaw at NBC and Peter Jennings at ABC, Rather was among the “big three” television newsmen of a generation.
Now, more than a decade after he left his perch and at 84 years old, Rather has returned to broadcasting—only this time, on Facebook.
In recent months, Rather’s frequent written commentaries about the U.S. presidential election have ricocheted around the web, and in some cases gathered an enormous amount of attention. On Tuesday, after Donald Trump suggested at a campaign rally that “Second Amendment people” could act against Hillary Clinton, Rather posted a short essay on his Facebook page, imploring people to contemplate the seriousness of Trump’s comments: “This is no longer about policy, civility, decency or even temperament. This is a direct threat of violence against a political rival.”
Within hours, Rather’s post had been shared hundreds of thousands of times. By the next day, Rather told me, the post had reached an audience of some 20 million people. (Because he published it to a public page, rather than an individual profile, he’s able to see metrics about traffic to his posts that aren’t otherwise available. His Facebook page is listed under his name as part of his work with News and Guts, a production company he started in 2006.)