Rather Visits, Weighs in on Local AMD Debate

Iconic TV anchor Dan Rather wades into local debate over Advanced Micro Devices' proposed development plans

Iconic TV anchor Dan Rather waded into the debate over Advanced Micro Devices' proposed development plans Monday night, expressing his love for Barton Springs in a speech sponsored by the microchip company. "If anybody thinks that by speaking here I'm endorsing AMD, let me make it clear that I am not," the native Texan told the audience at the Paramount Theatre.

A handful of protesters carried signs and distributed leaflets outside the event, the first installment of public broadcasting affiliate KLRU's Engaging Speaker Series, which was "presented" by AMD (and co-sponsored by The Austin Chronicle). Perky AMD employees dressed in polo-shirt uniforms manned the doors and a state trooper was stationed in the lobby. Before the talk, a video montage of Rather's career was followed by a PowerPoint slide show assuring the audience, over and over again, that AMD is an "active and responsible corporate citizen," amid photos of happy and smiling polo-shirt clad suburban-bots. Rather was introduced by AMD marketing vice-president John Volkmann, who used the term "thought leaders."

Although it apparently didn't bother KLRU management, Rather was clearly uncomfortable with the degree of AMD's role in the event, delaying the start of his talk on media issues to separate himself from the company. While he stopped short of criticizing AMD's plan to build its corporate campus over the Edwards Aquifer, he said he hoped the two sides would find "common ground in protecting natural resources," and appeared to choke up talking about the time he spends at Barton Springs with his family. "We love Barton Springs and the aquifer, and we take it seriously," he said, drawing applause from the audience.

Rather, 74, appeared close to tears at several points during the talk. Early on he grew emotional discussing the troops serving in Iraq, asking the audience for a few seconds of silence to honor their sacrifice. The bulk of his talk was a boilerplate call for better journalism standards and more international coverage. Although he carefully avoided specifics, he said the news industry, in general, "needs a spinal transplant."

One thing Rather was not going to discuss: the much-debated 60 Minutes piece on President Bush's National Guard service, which left a dark cloud over his departure from the anchor desk. Asked if producer Mary Mapes "took a hit" for him, he grew testy. "No, and I didn't take one for her," he said. And he made it clear that he wasn't going to talk about the story further. "I've moved forward," he said.

  • More of the Story

  • Naked City

    Headlines and happenings from Austin and beyond

    Bonds for Bikes

    Bicyclists ask committee to invest more in two-wheel transportation

    Get It While It's Green

    City pimps out limited supply of clean energy

    The Learnin' Calendar

    You still have the opportunity to have a say about when Austin ISD begins the 2006-7 school year
  • Anti-Scalito Camp Gets Vocal

    Texas Coalition for an Independent Judiciary voices opposition to Alito's Supreme Court bid with a stack of petitions containing more than 15,000 signatures

    CodePink Co-founder in the Pokey

    Diane Wilson doing a stint in the Victoria County Jail

    Off the Hook

    Travis Co. grand jury declines to indict seven Austin Police officers involved in September altercation that ended with in-custody death of Michael Clark

    Weed Watch

    Year starts off with a bang for medi-pot advocates; and marijuana legalization efforts continue in Colorado

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle