Just when you thought you wouldn't have to hear the name Dan Rather again, he comes back, this time with a lawsuit against CBS, Viacom, and high-level figures in both companies for making him a "scapegoat" in the aftermath of Memogate. For those of you unfamiliar with it or who have forgotten, in September 2004, CBS ran a story that claimed George W. Bush was AWOL from the Air National Guard on the testimony of Bush's commanding officer at the time. After bloggers poked holes in the story large enough for Rosie O'Donnell to lambada through and still have room for the members of NOW to join her. Granted, that's only adding 5 or 6 women tops, but it's still pretty impressive.
But now Rather says it wasn't his fault that he, the head of CBS News and the final guy with any power to kill the unsubstantiated story, didn't kill the story. Oh no. It was the fault of CBS and Viacom, who tried to curry favor with the Bush Administration. Rather has said in his lawsuit that he felt pressured to go along with the big bosses even though he knew the story was true. Okay, I'm not the smartest man in the world, but if CBS/Viacom was trying to curry favor with the Bush Administration, why would the big bosses have allowed Rather to go ahead with this story in the first place? And let's not forget Rather has stared down Richard Nixon while Nixon was President. Do you honestly think he was intimidated?
But all that will be decided by a court of law in the coming months. Rather should be glad I'm not serving on the jury on this one because his case would get laughed out of court by the time his lawyer's opening statement started. Much like Memogate, there are too many facts to overlook for it to be believed.
But even more absurd than the lawsuit is the fact Rather is trying to portray himself as some sort of hero in journalism for standing up for the integrity of his craft. Rather made the following statement on "Larry King Live":
Somebody, sometime has got to take a stand and say democracy cannot surive, much less thrive with the level of big corporate and big government interference and intimidation in the news.... They [CBS and Viacom] sacrificed support for independent journalism for corporate financial gain, and in doing so, I think they undermined a lot at CBS News.
He just doesn't get it. It's not CBS or Viacom that undermined CBS News; it was Rather's decision to run with the Bush story. Yes, Dan, you made a conscious decision to believe the editor, believe the story, ignore journalistic standards, and air it. And now you're trying to make excuses for your lack of judgment, not unlike a former President who will remain nameless. Sorry, but you're not going to pass the buck here. Be a man and say, "I screwed up." And once you admit the lawsuit was a mistake, then you can address Memogate.