Dan Rather: CBS

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There's a myth that Dan Rather was fired because of Rathergate (also called Memogate or the Killian documents contraversy): where Dan Rather was collaborating with the John Kerry campaign, and ran some poorly sourced and laughably false exposé about how "George Bush dodged his duty with the Air National Guard". While CBS put their credibility on-the-line defending the documents and their man, and the other mainstream outlets tried to ignore the story, the right wing blogosphere had started, and they showed how obviously forged the documents were, and eventually CBS had to capitulate. It all turned out to be falsified hokum, Dan had let his bias get in the way of journalistic standards, again.

Dan sued CBS in 2007 for besmirching his reputation, and it was thrown out of court. While Dan still whines about how he believes the documents are genuine, despite them being done on a laser printer and typeface that never existed in the 1960's. To this day, Dan claims that he was right, and despite using falsified documents, that the Bush administration never denied it... when they had. What he misses completely, is even if they had been real, he had no evidence they were, and was wrong to not vet the documents and run them in the story. That's not news, that's rumor mongering.

I say "again", because while CBS had mostly gotten away covering up Dan's repeated sloppiness, his career had been created on such dreck, and had many incidents. It happened time and time again. So it is unknown whether CBS fired him for this incident, or fear of the next one (and the whole truth coming out). But it helps to remember a few of the others, as reported in Alan Weisman's excellent book, "Lone Star: The Extraordinary Life and Times of Dan Rather". Some scandals covered include the following:

  • 1963 Dallas, being the first to report on the death of JFK. He had heard it from a Priest, and before getting verification had fumbled telling the CBS Control Room about it, and it was blasted on the air before verification. He was accidentally right, and got his career started by breaking a story he should have never broke.
  • 1969 he broke the story that President Nixon was about to fire J. Edgar Hoover, who stayed on until his death, 3 years later. And he botched a story about Nixon preparing to fire a top Vietnam official that also never happened.
  • He was obviously anti-America and anti-Vietnam war, and told the Vietcong's side of the story nightly, which is fine if you're a civilian, but not if you're playing an unbiased Newsman on TV.
  • 1980 "Gunga Dan" did a 60 Minutes segment dressed up in mujahideen-wear while in Afghanistan, that was mocked like the Brian Williams, "I was there" lie.
  • Timothy Crouse wrote in his chronicle of campaign reporters (The Boys on the Bus), that Rather was hated by other reporters because he would regularly run rumors as news when covering the Whitehouse. He not only embarrassed them, but usually got away with it.
  • Once he ignominiously was exited from CBS, he went on to being a 3rd string op-ed guy on AXS TV (a cable channel few have heard of). But he puts on his activist hat with anti-Trump and anti-Sanity rants on Facebook and twitter, which makes him a darling of the far left, but reminds the informed of how "unbiased" he's been all along.

The guy's career has been a parody of Ron Burgundy, if Ron was less competent, less self-aware and even more self-centered.

References