Apparently, Dan Rather has some free time on his hands. Not only could the erstwhile anchor, who left his post at CBS in June, be seen on Comedy Central last Tuesday, co-hosting election night coverage with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, but just a few days prior he could be found lending his imprimatur to the New York chapter of the American Jewish Committee. At the organization’s 17th annual Diplomatic Tour of Jewish New York, designed to introduce foreign dignitaries to the city’s rich Jewish history and to plug the century-old advocacy group’s work, Rather led the representatives of some 50 nations through a multimedia presentation of the AJCommittee’s pioneering use of radio and television broadcasting in the 20th century.
Over a luncheon at the Jewish Museum, replete with roast beef on rye and a plentiful assortment of pickles, Rather — who this month is launching a new program on HDNet — introduced a series of radio programs and short films produced by the AJCommittee at various points in history to promote tolerance and to counter antisemitism. In a 1962 short film written by Arthur Miller and starring Colleen Dewhurst, the A-list actress cries, “We’re not Jews!” as a band of men hurl trash cans at her home. In Miller’s mini-drama, her character’s fictional husband is mistaken for a Jew when he starts wearing glasses.
“Few agencies have used radio and television broadcasting as effectively as AJC,” Rather said as he introduced the “Dear Adolf” radio series, in which scripted letters to Hitler, putatively written by ordinary Americans, were read aloud as a counterweight to Hitler’s propaganda.
A spokesman for AJCommittee said it’s not every year that its diplomatic outreach effort attracts such star power. Having Rather, he said, was “a treat.”