by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy
By the time he fell on the sword for Bush and Black Rock1, Dan Rather had become a national icon. Now, he's reduced to plugging his lawsuit against CBS on Larry King Live, the same daytime cable show that obsessed over Anna Nicole Smith, the exploits of O.J. Simpson and Michael Jackson's fondness for the youth of this nation.
Larry King believes there is no news so low that it cannot be stooped to. At a time when the American media, generally, seems out to lunch, a man claiming to be "President" of the United States commits capital crimes while a kiss up Congress rewrites the laws to get him off the hook retro-actively.
It's a pity Larry King didn't see fit to spend as much time examining Bush's non-military record as he has spent looking up Paris Hilton and down Anna Nicole. To his credit, King interviewed Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. He really grilled him with smurf balls like "...doesn't the idea of spying run against the grain of Americans?" And, how about this for hard-hitting journalism, "Senator Specter, though, did say he is troubled by it did he not?" Oh well! That changes everything!
Here's the meat of King's interview of Dan Rather, in which Rather, at last, states that government has no business in the newsroom.
KING: Is that what you're saying, they were trying to appeal to the Bush White House?It is against Rather's fall and the sorry condition of American journalism in general that journalist Greg Palast tries to set the record straight about George W. Bush's mysterious years in the Texas Air National Guard.
RATHER: Yes is the short answer to that. But I think that they and others have been doing it to part of Washington's power structure long before them. And what I'm trying -- look, in my own wee small way -- perhaps, I can't succeed at it, is to say people, whether you're Republican, Democrat, liberal, conservative -- big government and big corporations have far too much influence and are intimidating, especially investigative reporting.
You may remember, Larry, after the 2000 election, when all three of the news division presidents went down to Washington and testified. They never should have been there. Big government has no business in the newsroom.
RATHER: And they read scripts prepared for them written on the corporate side.
New York- Newly unearthed records reveal that, in 2004, when Americans were in the midst of a brutal electoral battle over whether to reelect a president posing as a war hero, a commanding US reporter, Dan Rather, went AWOL.
Just three months before the election, Rather had a story that might have changed the outcome of that razor-close race. We now know that Dan cut a back-room deal to shut his mouth, grab his ankles, and let his network retract a story he knew to be absolutely true.In September 2004 when Rather cowered, Bush was riding high in the polls. Now, with Bush’s approval ratings are below smallpox, Rather has come out of hiding to shoot at the lame duck. Thanks, Dan.
It began on September 8, 2004, when Rather, on CBS, ran a story that Daddy Bush Senior had, in 1968, put in the fix to get his baby George out of the Vietnam War and into the Texas Air National Guard. Little George then rode out the war defending Houston from Viet Cong attack.
The story is stone-cold solid. I know, because we ran it on BBC Television a year before CBS (see that broadcast here). BBC has never retracted a word of it.
But CBS caved. So did Dan.
George W Bush- Draft Dodger
That’s according to Rather’s written confession, his law suit, which is as much a shameful set of admissions as it is a legal complaint. In the suit filed Thursday, Rather tells us that Sumner Redstone, CEO of Viacom, owner of CBS, was “enraged that the [Air Guard] Broadcast had hurt CBS in the eyes of the Bush administration.” Viacom then set out to, “divert public attention from the accurate facts reported in the Broadcast concerning President Bush’s service (and lack thereof) in the TexANG during the Vietnam War; and enable CBS and Viacom to curry favor with the White House….”So what did George W. Bush do when he should have been reporting for duty? Some sources recall him dancing naked on sleazy, Texas barstools --for guys! And tips?
Palast accuses Rather of picking up an old story and missing the big, new one. The "old story" --Bush's AWOL record --had, after all, been widely available back in 1999. Palast says the bigger story is all about how former Texas Lt. Gov Ben Barnes pocketed a cool $23 million bucks in two ways: 1) getting the junior Bush into the National Guard and safe from that mean ol' Cong and 2) keeping mum about it for some 35 years.
How does one pull off such a huge payoff in the gulag, GOP state of Texas? According to Palast, then Texas Gov. George W. Bush simply overruled the Lottery director and steered the billion dollar contract to a firm tied to the former Lt. Gov, Barnes. Barnes took a 23 million dollar "commission", a polite term for "payoff".
This is a devastating accusation. And one that’s more serious than the scandal of a draft-dodging rich kid’s vile use of daddy’s connections three decades ago. Here was evidence of gross abuse of public office by Governor Bush to pay off a crony who kept silent while Bush ran for the presidency.Palast has been on this story longer than even Dan Rather who must surely regret ever having heard the word "Bush".
Under pressure, Burkett gave CBS a false name to cover for the whistleblower. Burkett should not have done that. It is understandable but inexcusable. Period. Yet, that does not tell us the document was fabricated. It was the job of CBS to follow up — they are the journalists.Palast points out that it was in the same week that Andrew Myer of florida was being tasered with about 50,000 volts for daring to ask tough questions of John Kerry. Palast hasn't said so --but I will: this smacks of Hitler's brownshirts, just as did the "white shirted" gang of uglier goppers who attacked vote recounters in Florida.
And it is also the President’s job. Safire in the Times, in charging that Burkett faked the document, demanded the military open a criminal investigation. Darn right they should. They haven’t. Why not? Maybe they don???t want to check into this ???fake??? document because maybe it’s not fake.
An investigation should begin with questions for the President. After all, he can clear up the matter lickety-split.
“Mr. President, did you or did you not ask your commander Lt. Col. Killian how you could shirk your duty to show up?”
“Mr. President, did you or did you not refuse a direct order to take a medical exam and pee into a jar?” (The record is solid on the evidence of refusing that order, Mr. Top Gun — you were stripped of your flight wings.)
“Mr. President, did Texas Lt. Governor Ben Barnes make any calls to get you out of ‘Nam and into the Air Guard? Yes or no?”
See Dan, that’s how it should be done. It wasn’t Burkett’s job to verify the evidence, it was the job of Dan and the President.
Andrew is just a student and still needs a couple of lessons in posing questions properly. (Lesson One: “Wear a grounding wire.”) But Andrew has the next lesson down pat: ask the question they don’t want to hear when they don’t want to hear it. Rather could use a few lessons in journalism himself - from Andrew - about taking the heat for the story.It's update time. The following comment about this addition to the "Cowboy" was found on Buzzflash.net
--Palast [previous link]
...just who was THE one of the "less privileged kids" who died instead of that Wild & Crazy Guy who danced his way through an otherwise dull duty-station in the Texas Air National Guard? Perhaps it was the very young black kid who drowned in the back channels of the 'Rung Sat Special Zone' one night in mid-December, 1966. No shots were fired...he simply sank to the bottom when he let go of the safety line to keep from losing his rifle. We recovered his body at low tide the following morning. His name is etched on 'The Wall' instead of "Bush, George W."One day, some one will put that question to Bush himself.
Here's the Moveon.org ad that was pulled in 2004
MoveOn's pulled AWOL Bush ad from 2004
Note: 1 CBS Building in Manhattan
Trump Calls Bush "Worst President in History"
Trump Calls Bush "Worst President in History"
Additional Resources and Discoveries
- Larry King Interview With Dan Rather
- Buzzflash: Paul Krugman's Conscience of a Liberal
- The Iraq War: Legal or Illegal?
- Dr. Dahlia Wasfi - Life in Iraq Under U.S. Occupation
- Student Tasered for ‘Armed Madhouse’ Question to Kerry
- Kerry Won in ‘04