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Lady Liberty

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Thursday, September 16, 2004

I find this all Rather funny (but enough with the puns already)
posted by Tom

As he reaches the twilight of his long career as a DNC operative at CBS, Dan Rather must be weighing which public embarrassment at the hands of Democrats was the worst he has suffered: Getting decked on live television at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, or basing an entire “investigative report” on forged documents the Democrats handed him and his producer in what was ironically an effort to embarrass George Bush. Personally, I think the latter is worse, because at least getting knocked on his keester in '68 was a finite event. The most recent nightmare just goes on and on, aided and abetted by Rather himself, as you can see in his following response to a question posed by The New York Observer's Joe Hagan in a recent interview. Rather's asked if he’s worried “that the current scandal would tarnish his reputation.” He's not only worried about his own reputation, but he frets for his fellow liberal Democrats in the media:

"To me, even people who aren’t inclined for one reason or another to like me know I’m a lifetime reporter trying to be independent and to report without fear or favor, to be an honest broker of information. On the times when I’ve failed, either because I didn’t ask enough of the right questions, or didn’t ask the right questions, I, and almost every other journalist, have taken a fair enough criticism for, in many people’s judgments, not asking the right questions, or not asking the right questions strong enough, long enough in the time preceding the war. And I think some of that criticism is justified. I do not except myself in that criticism.
If you’re searching for the Larry King of print interviewers, by the way (and who would be?), you need look no further than Hagan. As a matter of fact, look no further than this interview for the most vapid questions asked about a major political scandal since the intrepid Mr. King asked Mary Matalin, “You hope the allegations against Bill Clinton aren’t true, right?”

You’d think the next question from Hagan would have been, “Say WHAT?!” Alas, no. He’s evidently a transcriber, not a journalist. Read Rather’s answer once and you come away thinking he obviously believes syntax is what you pay on cigarettes and liquor. But read it a couple more times and you appreciate the man’s pathological narcissism. Anyone still wondering why this moron has not yet 1) admitted the alleged Killian memos are fake, 2) retracted the ‘report’ that was based upon them, and 3) apologized to the administration and the public for his shoddy partisan Democrat cheerleading can basically find the answer to this mystery in his response to Hagan’s question.

Pardon me while I, to use a down-home-spun Ratherism, unpack that statement like Lady Astor riffling through her steamer trunk the first afternoon on board the Titanic.

"To me, even people who aren’t inclined for one reason or another to like me know I’m a lifetime reporter trying to be independent and to report without fear or favor, to be an honest broker of information.”
You don’t need to be a trained psychoanalyst to spot his megalomania. It’s either that or utter stupidity. Can the guy really be this clueless? People who dislike him – which I assume is what he means by “aren’t inclined for one reason or another to like” him, but I’m open to alternative interpretations – think he’s an independent and honest journalist? Is he totally oblivious to the fact a great many people think he is the equivalent of dried bird droppings on their front stoop precisely because they perceive him as a 72-year-old male crew-cut version of Monica Lewinsky servicing the Democratic Party in his reports and so-called exposes?

This entire scandal never would have erupted if even those who dislike Rather trusted him to do his job professionally and without grinding his partisan axe. Everyone would have accepted his evidence at face value, confident he had vetted it for authenticity. If a great many people are inclined toward anything, it’s a deep, deep mistrust of everything Rather reports, and they are so inclined for one reason only: Rather’s well documented history of biased reporting. (For an earlier example of Rather’s propensity for sensationalist fiction, see The National Review article, The First Rathergate.) This is why numerous bloggers and document experts were ready to pounce on those forged memos and within approximately 24 hours pretty much demonstrate they weren’t worth the paper they were copied on.

“On the times when I’ve failed, either because I didn’t ask enough of the right questions, or didn’t ask the right questions, I, and almost every other journalist, have taken a fair enough criticism for, in many people’s judgments, not asking the right questions, or not asking the right questions strong enough, long enough in the time preceding the war. And I think some of that criticism is justified. I do not except myself in that criticism."
We can only assume the “war” mentioned is the current war in Iraq, which would have compelled anyone but a simpleton like Hagan to politely ask just what the frigging hell Iraq has to do with Rather’s shoddy journalism. The answer, of course, is absolutely nothing, which is the point, but you’d think an interviewer would at least make an effort. What we have here, though, is Rather’s version of Nathanael West’s Miss Lonelyhearts, the tragic (and some think morbidly funny) self-centered reporter with a Christ Complex. Basically, Rather is saying:

“Mea culpa, mea culpa for not having done enough to save the American public from the dangerous – the evil – foreign adventures of George W. Bush. This report on his failure to fulfill his military duties with the same kind of courage John Kerry showed when he volunteered for Viet Nam was my attempt to atone for my earlier laxity. But I was no more irresponsible than my colleagues with regard to Bush's folly in Iraq. We’re all guilty and should feel ashamed. Scourge and crucify me now if you must. I willingly take upon myself the sins of all journalists who did not prevent our country from embarking on another Viet Nam. Oh, and forget I perpetrated a fraud on the public in the hope of influencing an election.”
Well, I suppose if it’s a choice between partisan journalists concocting phony stories using forged documents and al Quaeda blowing up shopping malls in attempts to influence the election, I’ll go with the former. Still, that doesn’t mean I have to like it or that Rather is any less of a horse’s ass.

Which forces a segue to the fair, balanced, and independent Bill O’Reilly, who of late has been competing with Rather in the making an ass out of oneself department as he argues that his idol at CBS didn’t premeditatedly present the forged documents and is therefore not guilty of fraudulent reporting. The ex-high school teacher and tabloid show host turned wannabe lawyer ignores the fact the authenticity of the documents was called into question by CBS’s own experts prior to Rather airing the report. At best, Rather is guilty of recklessness in going ahead with evidence the authenticity of which he knew was doubtful. Couple that with the mountain of proof compiled by other document experts over the past week and Rather's refusal to admit they're fakes and nothing on God's green earth can exonnerate him either on a personal or professional level when he is forced to concede what everyone but Bill O'Reilly knows already. One can imagine an idiot like O’Reilly being told by thirty or so different mechanics that the brakes on his car are completely worn to the point where they’re going to fail, but he continues to drive without replacing them, and after running over a kid because his brakes failed, proclaiming his innocence because he didn’t “intend” to run over the kid. This is the guy who’s looking out for you. Thanks, Bill, I'll handle it myself.

I suppose I digressed. I’ve a tendency to do that. That’s why my brilliant colleague and the owner of this site, Adeimantus, gets his stuff printed up in the Wall Street Journal and I provide the filler here.

At any rate, CBS/Rather’s latest defense, that while the documents may not be authentic, what they purport to describe is accurate and therefore President Bush is obligated to answer the questions, should have John O'Neill and the rest of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth smacking their heads. (Numerous reporters got the same fax from the DNC/CBS and were floating this around before Rather’s follow-up report last night in which a mummified ANG secretary told voters the memos were fake, but she "felt" George W. Bush was given special treatment.) All SBVFT should have done in order to get face time on 60 Minutes was forge a few memos and after-action reports by senior officers. They could have described how John Kerry put in for Purple Hearts for self-inflicted wounds not caused in the heat of battle, how he spent Christmas Eve 1968 not getting shot at in Cambodia but getting laid in some Vietnamese brothel, how he fled from combat situations until the shooting stopped, etc. The Swifties could then have gotten, oh, say, 250 guys to corroborate the false documents. Dan Rather and CBS and NPR token negro Juan Williams and a host of other Kerry publicists would now be demanding that the senator address these 'serious questions' raised about his Viet Nam service.

Yeah. Sure.

If I ever sit down to write "Great Democrats of the 20th Century", which will prove to be one of the shortest books ever published (along with "French Heroes of WWII" and "A History of Left-Wing Thought"), the first chapter will be devoted to the guy who cold cocked Dan Rather in 1968. He has earned his place in history.


posted by Tom | 9/16/2004 07:43:00 AM
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Blogger lostingotham said...

What? You don't like "CBS Forges Ahead?"

2:38 PM, September 16, 2004  
Blogger Tom said...

Oh, all right. It's Rather amusing.

2:43 PM, September 16, 2004  

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