Rather Be Without Rather? Me Too.

Dan Rather had played politics for years – at least that’s what his critics claim. I was a bit surprised by the lack of information presented in Carol Hoenig’s piece on Dan Rather’s departure from CBS News, his new lawsuit against his former employer and a plethora of other associated industry issues. If you missed it, allow me to recap via Hoenig:

Trying to go up against big money with the truth is almost impossible, but I suppose Rather used the last 15 months to rally himself and his troops to prepare to battle. Unfortunately, it’s too late to show just how much of a phony Bush Jr. is in how he misrepresented himself. You may recall that Rather reported that Bush was given preferential treatment when he joined the Texas National Guard, apparently to keep him from having to serve in Vietnam, but Junior then never showed up for duty in the National Guard. For someone who obviously likes to make his own rules, this is not surprising. But when Rather reported this information, he was punished for it – in a big way.  - Carol Hoenig

Right. But when telling the whole story, one would have to note that Rather was punished not because he reported in the general sense, but because the information he reported was inaccurate. And by inaccurate I mean that he consulted with an alleged nut job who has been said to have a history of eliciting misinformation, flew to Texas with Mary Mapes (the executive producer who was also let go over the incident) to interview said nut job, accepted documents that were allegedly decades old (which were later found to have been drafted using Microsoft Word and printed via laser) and then reported utilizing this flopped evidence in an effort to degrade a candidate during an election season.

Oh, and three CBS executives were let go too due to their conduct or lack thereof.

That about sums it up. Or, for a more abbreviated version: He violated a number of journalistic standards that someone of his caliber should have known like the back of his hand.

Here’s a more concise view of what went on:

The story relied on four documents, supposedly written by Bush’s commander in the Texas Air National Guard, the late Lt. Col. Jerry Killian. Critics questioned the documents’ authenticity and suggested they were forged.

A CBS review determined the story was neither fair nor accurate. CBS fired the story’s producer and asked for the resignation of three executives because it could not authenticate documents used in the story, and Rather was forced out of the anchor chair he had occupied for 24 years.

And I’m not writing this to defend Bush, but if Rather was so concerned about crusading to prove or disprove the validity of candidate military service, why is it that he failed to investigate Kerry’s blunders after the Vietnam War (I suppose we’ve forgotten how traitorous lying about fellow men and women in the armed forces is). Moreover, (and this is in defense of both Bush and Kerry), why was military service decades preceding the election important anyway?

It’s not only illogical to hold Bush or Kerry accountable for actions they took or failed to take when they were young men for that matter, but it’s nonsensical! If I were held to the horrid mistakes and meanderings I’ve made throughout my short life, I’d be up a creek. Thank God for growth and human evolution (in the spiritual sense, obviously).

To this day, I don’t believe that Bush has been able to disprove the assertions made in regard to his preferential treatment, while Rather must go into a war of a different sort.  - Carol Hoenig

Right. A war that Mr. Rather could have avoided had he done his job properly. If this was a story about Bill O’Reilly, I’m sure a different tune would be sung.

And, does Bush need to disprove them? Honestly, and this may lack moral fiber, but who wouldn’t avoid going to war if they had the opportunity to dodge it? Most of the individuals petitioning against the Iraq War (many of you are reading this now) would blow a smoke-stack if you were drafted (and I’m not saying I wouldn’t), so is it that horrendous that an individual would use his or her connections to avoid being strewn into the armed forces? I’m not asking if it’s morally deficient, I’m merely asking if it’s an understandable inaction. But, again, military service decades before was a preposterous issue to begin with.

And, let’s not forget that Bill Clinton’s alleged draft dodging during Vietnam. But that’s a story for a different day.

While Carol seems more than willing to jump on board with Rather, I choose not to; the facts are against him on every front. Preceding this debacle, a study was released that actually classified CBS News with Dan Rather as one of the most liberal news programs available to general audiences. Clearly, Rather jumped ahead of himself, left his j-school inclinations at the door and plunged into a pool devoid of water.

He was “A little more than a narrator?” Right, so that’s why he and his executive producer not only saw these botched documents through, but followed the story all the way to Texas (see: "Rather to Air Burkett Interview Tonight")   At some point, personal responsibility has to come into pay here.   Come on!  They traced the documents back to a Texas Kinko’s!

CBS probably wants Dan Rather off the air for the same reasons most conservatives do. He possesses a bias, yet he worked for a network that continues to claim full objectivity.  I agree with critics when they claim that he has traditionally let his opinions step in the way of his coverage.  Any defense of his journalistic blunders is totally and utterly uncalled for. With that said, I wish he would have used his brain. Now, we’re stuck with Couric. Sigh.