Dan Rather and the Price of Dishonesty

You may remember this story from a few years back. Ran Rather did a hit job, using forged documents, on George W. Bush concerning his Air National Guard Service during the Vietnam War. As a result, many people, even today, think Bush got away with doing less than desired as a member of the Air Guard. Many other people think Dan Rather is a man of credibility and should not have lost his job over the issue.

Here’s my take:

Dan Rather quit being a good reporter years before this case ever came up. He was a political hack, with a huge national following, who had degraded to a point where his liberal partisanship was obvious.

Now, I don’t mind political hacks. Sean Hannity is one. Keith Olbermann is one. Chris Mathews is one. That’s just a small list. But we’re not talking about them. We’re talking about reporters and reporters today can’t seem to grasp the concept of attempting to make thier stories unbiased. Nor do they seem to understand the difference between a reporter and a commentator. Even Chris Mathews recently said his job was to help ensure a successful Presidency for Barack Obama. Lord knows he helped get him elected. (Is Mathews a reporter or a commentator?)

So, it comes down to the focus of the individuals media job. David Gergen is expected to have an opinion and express it. Alan Colmes, Hannity’s partner, is also expected to have an opinion and express it. They are commentators. That’s what they do.

Dan Rather on the other hand, was a reporter/news caster. He can have an opinion but he is expected to keep opinion out of it. And he certainly isn’t supposed to use unvetted forged documents simply because it’s a silver bullet with which to wound his Republican foe.

Dan Rather screwed the pooch on that story and he was called to account for it. The price he had to pay was his job.

There is no reason to feel any pity for the man with tripe like saying it was just a simple mistake. Rather is too old a hand to have make a mistake like that. He knew better.

He lost his job. Big deal. It doesn’t make up for the hundreds of times he slanted his stories to be unfavorable to Republicans for over 20 years. Just because he didn’t use forged documents all those times doesn’t make it any less unprofessional.

Rather got what he deserved, and good riddence. The judge should dismiss the case.

Cynical Optimist

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