Update/related item appended at bottom of post.
The statements in Dan Rather's $70 million lawsuit, filed Wednesday against CBS for terminating him nearly two years after his discredited story on President Bush's National Guard service, reflect a conspiratorial paranoia about how he sees himself as a victim of Bush White House pressure and is unable to accept responsibility for his sloppy and politically-driven story.
The former network star charged that he was made a "scapegoat" for the 2004 story because CBS wished to "pacify the White House." CBS management "coerced" him, Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz on Thursday quoted the lawsuit, "into publicly apologizing and taking personal blame for alleged journalistic errors in the broadcast." Josh Howard, the Executive Producer at the time of the weekday 60 Minutes who was forced to resign, rejected Rather's claim that he was just a passive narrator, telling Kurtz: "He did every interview. He worked the sources over the phone. He was there in the room with the so-called document experts. He argued over every line in the script. It's laughable."
In Thursday's New York Times, reporter Jacques Steinberg added detail to Rather's claim he was the "scapegoat" because of supposed "right-wing" pressure and to Rather's fresh attack on the integrity of Richard Thornburgh, co-chair with Associated Press chief executive Lou Boccardi, of the panel CBS News appointed that determined Rather's story was critically flawed:
Rather quotes the executive who oversaw his regular segment on CBS Radio as telling Mr. Rather in November 2004 that he was losing that slot, effective immediately, because of "pressure from 'the right wing.'" Mr. Rather also continues to take vehement issue with the appointment by CBS of Richard Thornburgh, an attorney general in the administration of the elder President Bush, as one of the two outside panelists given the job of reviewing how the disputed broadcast had been prepared.
Who knew the "right wing" had such influence with CBS News?
[This is an excerpt from item posted this morning in the MRC's CyberAlert which contains information and quotes fresh to NewsBusters.]
Kurtz elaborated on Rather's apparent retraction of his on-air apology: "Twelve days after the story aired, according to the suit, [Andrew] Heyward, then the news division chief, "instructed" Rather to read an apology on the "Evening News," despite Rather's "own personal feelings that no apology from him was warranted." In those on-air remarks, Rather called the story a "mistake" and added: "I want to say personally and directly, I'm sorry."
The MRC's extensive Dan Rather archive section, "The Dan Rather File," has been updated with summaries and videos of Rather's most recent outbursts. The "Dan's Downfall: Forged Documents" sub-section includes video clips headlined:
- Rather "Absolutely" Stands by Bush Story "Truth"
- Mary Mapes: National Guard Report Still "Is a Good Story"
- Rather: Guard Memo Story "Accurate," Never Proven Not So
And see “Rather Lame Denials of Bias” for:
- Rather: "Liberal" Epithet Used to "Intimidate" Him
Update/Related Item (Ken Shepherd | 15:13):
Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs opines that "for Dan Rather to continue insisting they [the Bush National Guard memos] are genuine shows either: 1) a disconnection from reality that borders on the psychotic, or 2) a blatant liar willing to go down in flames rather than admit the truth." For more, click here.