Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Indulging Dan Rather

Rather's bid tonight for journalistic canonization was a monument to his myopia about himself, and a Nixonesque coverup for a corrupt, failed reporter.

"We didn't go there [Vietnam] with anti-war sentiment."

Maybe not. But Dan admitted taking his worm's-eye view of the conflict and generalizing it; deciding that the war was unwinnable, a self-fulfilling media prophecy. Dan Rather was part of the Fifth Column who handed the North Vietnamese a victory, not on the battlefield, but in the halls of Congress. Of course there was no mention tonight of the shameful Tet media debacle.

Vietnam was a defining point in Rather's career. Ever after he would pursue his quarry relentlessly - so long as the hunted was Republican. Rather was highly visible during the Watergate scandal, but where was he during Whitewater, the "bimbo eruptions" of the '92 campaign, Juanita Broadrick, and the Monica Lewinski scandal? Suppressing the stories until shamed into doing his job when tabloids broke them. As for Watergate and Lewinski, Nixon lied to protect his people. Clinton lied to protect himself and threw his people to the wolves. And Rather didn't mention that ultimately, it was Republicans who told Nixon he was through.

"Too much passion melded to loving the job too much lead to making mistakes. But I'd rather have too much than too little."

Too much passion would be excusable if it weren't coupled with willful bias. Nixon, Reagan, Bush I, Bush II...Rather's passion and zeal was on display in dealing with these Republican Presidents. It was oddly missing when Dan pursued stories on Carter, Clinton, Gore, and Kerry. Where was Dan's Vietnam-era passion in Bosnia? Didn't that deserve the "quagmire" epithet at least as much as Afghanistan and Iraq?

"It [Tiananmen Square] came breathtakingly close to succeeding."
No, it didn't. What an astonishingly naive statement. The outcome was never in doubt. Ruthless, oppressive governments never hand over power to demonstrators. Help must come from outside, as it did in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The constitutional crisis precipitated by the 2000 election near-deadlock was not mentioned. Perhaps because Rather's premature calling of Florida for Gore, before the heavily Republican panhandle polls were closed wasn't enough to throw the election the way Rather wanted it to go.

Dan's mea culpa about Rathergate: "We should have been more rigorous."

Partially correct. If Dan hadn't been so deeply biased and committed to getting John Kerry elected President, the rigor would have been there.

"I wanted people to say, when I walked down the street, 'there goes a real reporter'."

If you wanted them to say that, Dan, then you should have been "a real reporter".