Open note for those pundit-types crowing about Rather's inevitable downfall: TOO SOON, GUYS.
Anyone who has followed this left-leaning anchor (you know - the kind we'd prefer to drop in the ocean) for any length of time will state unequivocally that Rather is first and foremost a politician. His journalism is nothing more than his personal podium from which he fancies himself directing the intricate ballet of American politics. He has shown himself capable of incredible petulance even as he snowballs the over-eager public with his perceived deep-thinking and probing analyses of the issues facing the country. He has stormed out of interviews, insulted anyone who stood in his way, maligned by association those who dare to live independent of the government's interference in their personal lives, and in general made a mockery of what used to be (on it's surface, anyway) a noble profession.
Having said that: Even if it proves to be true that some of the documents CBS floated in support of their special report are, in fact, forgeries, Dan Rather will suffer little, if any, fallout from the incident. We've seen this guy in action before, and we can predict one of two scenarios that will come into play.
1. Rather Angry. This is the coolly outraged, indignant Rather. This Rather will take prime time in a coming report to proclaim his personal integrity, and defend himself against the scurrilous slander of his detractors. He will raise the banner of "this reporter" as he has done on so many occasions. CBS, like any responsible news organization, of course consulted with multiple experts. Each one indicated that the documents were "likely genuine." He will continue: "Never, in this reporter's long career, has an individual's personal integrity been so maligned." Unless he's doing the maligning, of course.
I can almost write his entire statement.
2. Rather Penitent. Less likely, but not outside the realm of possibility, is the repentant Rather. Penitent Rather will "come clean" and indicate that in his report he used the phrase "we are told." This, he will say, shows that any given report is only as good as the information available when the report is written. This was the Rather trying desperately trying to back-pedal from having announced Al Gore as the projected winner of the 2000 general election. "Were there mistakes? Certainly. Should we accept responsibility for them? We should and we do."
And there it will end. Mea culpa, ladies and gentlemen. And now we continue with our unbiased and in-depth analysis that will show, incontrovertibly, that all Republicans are liars and cheats. (Next up: a visit with the Sage of the Prairies - Garrison Keillor)
Bloggers can still (and certainly should) be justifiably proud of their efforts to get the truth in front of as many people as will accept it. But don't crow too loudly about ol' Dan Rather just yet.
He still has a few (political) tricks up his expensively-tailored sleeve.
UPDATE: The spin begins: the weekly Standard asks whether CBS was the "vicim of a hoax." Ah, of course. Poor CBS. Victimized once again. No doubt by those scurvy Republican privateers.
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