Ed Driscoll

Rather Strange

Actually, Dan Rather’s bizarre comments on Larry King this week may be better proof that human hibernation is already here. Or maybe it’s just permanent sleep walking by the man who makes Ted Baxter sound like Irving Kristol. As Hugh Hewitt writes:

Rather as Nixon, Only Less Forthcoming

If you didn’t see Dan Rather on Larry King last night, you missed what will surely become a classic of journalism seminars for decades to come. The transcript is here.

Rather emerged from hiding, probably thinking it would be safe to join in the Mark Felt-triggered reunion of the veterans of the Nixon Wars.

But Larry had the bad taste to ask him about the Texas Air National Guard forgeries, and Rather’s filibuster of many minutes was nothing short of remarkable. The key excerpt regarding the Rathergate forgeries:

“KING: Are you saying the story might be correct?

RATHER: Well, I’m saying a prudent person might take that view.

KING: Do you have that view?

RATHER: Well, I’m saying a prudent person might take that view.

Number two, it’s important, the panel said that this story was not — the story was not born of any personal or political bias. Now, that’s not all they said. They were very critical of CBS News, of “60 Minutes Weekday,” and of myself, very critical of us for all kinds of things that they believe we should have done that we didn’t do. And with some of those things, I do agree.

But I do hope people will keep in mind that two of their findings were what I just described to you. Wasn’t born of political or personal bias, and they could not determine whether the documents were fraudulent or not.”

It is hard to be angry or even exercised over the sad spectacle of an old man trying so hard not to admit that he’d been played for a fool, but when Rather asserted, twice, that a “prudent person” might judge the absurd forgeries as real, the damage done by the Thornburg whitewash became undeniable. Rather, and who knows how many others, have convinced themselves that there’s a chance the forgeries weren’t forgeries, and have also seized on “the panel’s” conclusion that no political bias was at work.

Like a grandpa indulged his peculiar memories, Rather’s not the problem. He was with Teddy, don’t you see, charging up the Hill, or with Patton’s Third Army, just like it was in the movies.

The real problem is that CBS News remains unreformed and unrepentant. The master cover-up man, Les Moonves, is still in charge, as is Andrew Heyward, and together they will eventually produce a myth less crude than Rather’s vulgar posturing, but no less deceitful. Like saying, “You’re news division is not a crook,” and getting away with it.

CBS peddled a lie in the middle of a presidential campaign, designed to influence the outcome of that vote. Eight months later, Rather can appear on national television and assert without being laughed off the stage by even the gentlemanly King when Rather asserts that the TANG documents and the “reporting” they spawned might have been accurate, the documents simply incapable of being verified. And of course, no political bias involved whatsoever.

The only redeeming aspect of the sad show tonight was that Rather seemed wholly unaware that on a night designated as one more tractor pull on the Nixon presidency, Rather ended up making Nixon look like a model of candor by comparison, perhaps causing more than a few young viewers to wonder that if a person such as Rather, 2004-2005 could be so wrong about the obvious, so in denial, and so delusional, how about a Woodward and Bernstein, 1973-1974?

Perfect, just perfect.

Ed Morrissey points out that Rather “flat-out lied” to King:

Rather flat-out lied about the findings of the Thornburgh-Boccardi report. Peter Tytell, the man hired by the panel, reported unequivocally to Thornburgh and Boccardi that the Killian memos had been created by a computer. This excerpt comes from Page 1 of Appendix 4 of their final report:

Tytell concluded, for the reasons described below, that (i) the relevant portion of the Superscript Exemplar was produced on an Olympia manual typewriter, (ii) the Killian documents were not produced on an Olympia manual typewriter, and (iii) the Killian documents were produced on a computer in Times New Roman typestyle . Tytell acknowledged that deterioration in the Killian documents from the copying and downloading process made the comparison of typestyles “to some extent a subjective call.” However, he believed the differences were sufficiently significant to conclude that the Killian documents were not produced on a typewriter in the early 1970s and therefore were not authentic.

The report lists in detail all of the discrepancies found by Tytell between known examplars of true TexANG documents and the Killian memos produced by CBS and their rabidly partisan source, Bill Burkett. That information has been in the public record for over four months. To go on national TV and claim that the CBS report does not render a judgment on the authenticity of the Killian memos is false — and given Rather’s proximity and interest in the issue, one must presume that the falsehood is deliberate.

Does anyone at CBS have an issue with one of their featured journalists appearing on national television and lying to the American public? So far, the answer appears to be no.

Morrissey links to this observation by Brainster:

You see the problem? When he says nobody’s proven the documents false or not, he’s demanding extraordinary proof of their falsity. But of course, a real newsman should be in the business of demanding extraordinary proof of their validity. That’s supposed to be the difference between CBS News and the National Enquirer.

Actually, the National Enquirer is perfectly prepared to teach Dan a thing or two about sources.