Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Dan Rather's Rage

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas’ fierce poem must have influenced Dan Rather in adolescence, as it did me, and now he has taken it to heart by suing CBS and its executives for the dying of his TV light sooner than deserved.

His $70 million lawsuit claims the network violated his contract by not giving him enough airtime on “60 Minutes” after he was forced to step down as anchor of the “CBS Evening News” in March 2005 and that the network committed fraud by commissioning a “biased” investigation of the broadcast about George W. Bush’s National Guard service and thereby “seriously damaged his reputation.”

If it goes to trial, the suit should shed light on more than Rather’s treatment by CBS. The piece of journalism in question played a part, potentially crucial, in Bush’s 2004 reelection and diverted attention from the truth about the President’s service during Vietnam to the shaky reporting about it by CBS.

By calling into question the authenticity of one letter, it allowed the Rove Smear Machine to drum up sympathy for Bush’s “mistreatment” by the media rather than continuing the inquiry into his evasion of combat service during the war.

Skeptics will note that Rather’s action comes only after Don Imus extracted a settlement from the network of his contract and that his hurt feelings have been consoled all along by continuing to collect his $6 million annual salary. But CBS’ casual willingness to sacrifice his lifetime of good work as a respected reporter to placate Bush yahoos is a subject that deserves an airing.

It certainly won’t get it on “60 Minutes.”


Swampcracker said...

I am rather glad about this. Maybe that National Guard story will finally get a fair hearing under pain of litigation.

Watch 'n Wait said...

Maybe justice will finally be done for Rather. I'm delighted over that news.