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September 19, 2007 3:12 PM   Subscribe

Dan Rather sues Viacom and CBS for $70 million. Complaint (PDF).

From the complaint: Central to defendants' plans to pacify the White House was to offer Mr. Rather as the public face of the story, and as a scapegoat for CBS management's bungling of the entire episode - which, as a direct result, became known publicly as "Rathergate."

Killian documents. Previously one two.
posted by starman (77 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
I've been spending entirely too much time at Wikipedia today and found myself momentarily lost trying to find the [edit] button to fix 'rather'....
posted by Ogre Lawless at 3:17 PM on September 19, 2007


Rather's right to be pissed in that CBS should have let Rather have the graceful and dignified exit he deserved for all the years he worked there, mistakes and all, but I don't really see what he'll accomplish here. The people who hate CBS and Rather won't really care if CBS is made to look more discredited, and all it really makes a story of is stuff to throw the same lame comments about him on.

Kudos on Rather to at least show some kind of anger over a totally fucked-up story, albiet a misplaced anger. It's still more than the "new media" bloggers who whined about this for two months have ever done. (Did you hear liberals faked the Schiavo memo while Kerry's Mistress killed the Ayatollah?)
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 3:23 PM on September 19, 2007


but I don't really see what he'll accomplish here.

The only thing that is ever accomplished through litigation: He'll make Viacom and CBS spend a bunch of money, and he'll likely even get some of it for himself.
posted by The World Famous at 3:25 PM on September 19, 2007


I wonder if he'll keep trying to claim that the documents are genuine? If he does, they'll laugh him out of court.

But that would also put CBS in a peculiar situation. If they don't, in their turn, claim that the documents were bogus, and introduce evidence to that end, then they grant that point to Rather.

But if they do prove the documents were bogus (which won't be hard) then they've left themselves open for suit from other people who the original story arguably libeled, because that evidence becomes established and can be used in other suits against CBS itself.

Or so I understand it, though IANAL.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 3:41 PM on September 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well he might get the truth out about how Bush actually did avoid service, but too late to affect the election. As for Bush's legacy, that is already in the toilet.
posted by caddis at 3:42 PM on September 19, 2007


I'm just shocked that his name is actually Dan Rather. Not Daniel, not Danitello, just Dan.

Also, I wonder if the characters in the complaint were autospaced or if it was typed on a 1970's era typewriter?
posted by Pollomacho at 3:48 PM on September 19, 2007


"But if they do prove the documents were bogus (which won't be hard) then they've left themselves open for suit from other people who the original story arguably libeled, because that evidence becomes established and can be used in other suits against CBS itself."

They'll have to have more than one crank's "typography" bullshit.

(The unfortunate point is that CBS and Rather lacked the evidence to prove that the documents were authentic, rather than the right-wing leap to denounce the documents as false.)
posted by klangklangston at 3:51 PM on September 19, 2007


I [heart] Dan Rather and he'd better win cause that mofo is worth every penny. [insert long, drawn out and confusing analogy here]
posted by SassHat at 3:53 PM on September 19, 2007


Well, I'll be.

He's madder than a spinster at the Austin Gay Pride Parade, I'll tell you what!
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 3:59 PM on September 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


Klang, you actually think they were genuine?

An industry-level typography expert went through them and showed all kinds of reasons why they were bogus. And I'm quite sure he'd be willing to testify to that fact, and would be accepted by a court as being an expert witness.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 4:15 PM on September 19, 2007


CBS should have let Rather have the graceful and dignified exit he deserved for all the years he worked there, mistakes and all
Why?
posted by vsync at 4:15 PM on September 19, 2007


So Bush really was a hero pilot in Vietnam then?

*posts image of Rather photoshopped onto Oswald’s face as he gets shot by Jack Ruby*

Y’know, if I do a job, I’d sign my name to it. Why, when your name is literally going to be attached to that job, wouldn’t you check out all the particulars?
So from Rather’s perspective either the network set him up or they refused to get his back when the pressure was on.
Either way, why work with people you don’t trust, especially when it’s your name on the line?
Gosh a corporation bent to pressure (right or wrong) rather than protect your integrity? Such a surprise.

The hell of it is, I suspect he was actually surprised and expected the truth of the matter to trump the particulars. Like the fact Bush, y’know, was a spoiled rich kid being protected by daddy’s contacts. Instead it’s two blocs of power fighting it out over the perception of an image with bank ($) bags filled with bullshit.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:18 PM on September 19, 2007


Hopefully for Dan, this will end up before one of those activist trial judges the GOP is always complaining about.
posted by Poolio at 4:18 PM on September 19, 2007


I'm just shocked that his name is actually Dan Rather.

He's the Dan. So that's what you call him. You know, that or, uh, His Danness, or uh, Daner, or El Danerino if you're not into the whole brevity thing.
posted by buriednexttoyou at 4:19 PM on September 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


What's the frequency, Kenneth?

Once, and for $70 million!
posted by bwg at 4:23 PM on September 19, 2007


George W. Bush is still a draft dodging warmonger, and no typeface will ever change that.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:24 PM on September 19, 2007 [15 favorites]


bwg: What's the frequency, Kenneth?
posted by Tullius at 4:25 PM on September 19, 2007


George W. Bush is still a draft dodging warmonger, and no typeface will ever change that.

You say that as if draft-dodging somehow makes "warmonger" worse.
posted by The World Famous at 4:29 PM on September 19, 2007


CBS should have let Rather have the graceful and dignified exit he deserved for all the years he worked there, mistakes and all

I wanna go to work for you.

Uh, I'm going to be late tomorrow. And Friday doesn't really work for me, either.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 4:32 PM on September 19, 2007


The documents may not have been genuine, but they contained "emotional truths".

* waxes nostalgic for 2004, and that the idea that a 2d term Bush presidency might not happen *
posted by psmealey at 4:34 PM on September 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


(The unfortunate point is that CBS and Rather lacked the evidence to prove that the documents were authentic, rather than the right-wing leap to denounce the documents as false.)

klang, as some are already masterfully proving in this thread, no one who dislikes Rather will ever actually attempt to comprehend this difference- or at the very least admit to it. You might as well try argue what Gore actually said about the internet.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:35 PM on September 19, 2007


The documents may not have been genuine, but they contained "emotional truths".

Agreed. They felt authentic in my gut.
posted by Poolio at 4:39 PM on September 19, 2007


"Klang, you actually think they were genuine?

An industry-level typography expert went through them and showed all kinds of reasons why they were bogus. And I'm quite sure he'd be willing to testify to that fact, and would be accepted by a court as being an expert witness."

Steven, you actually think that Killian wasn't pressured by higher-ups to keep Bush's record clean, or that Bush wasn't grounded, or that any of the things alleged in the memos were false?

I mean, we're starting out with the fact that you can't even be asked to read the comment I made (in which I basically said that there is no way to know one way or the other, your lavender crank aside), and are intentionally framing the discussion in an ideological manner. So you might as well answer whether or not you believe the general content of the documents were true, irrespective of the providence of the memos.
posted by klangklangston at 4:40 PM on September 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


but I don't really see what he'll accomplish here.

Well, he's certainly got all of us talking about it, doesn't he? Remember the very beginning of all of this: George Bush went AWOL and George Bush is a chickenshit chickenhawk. That's the story.

I remember when all of this went down it was accredited to Karl Rove. What an evil genius move to fake documents fully supporting the truth that Bush was a draft dodger, but making the fake documents the story instead.
posted by zardoz at 4:42 PM on September 19, 2007


The documents may not have been genuine, but they contained "emotional truths".

Agreed. They felt authentic in my gut.


Because it's not a lie if you believe it.
posted by The World Famous at 4:44 PM on September 19, 2007


Klang, I thought "fake but accurate" had died a death of a thousand horselaughs by now.

Steven, you actually think that Killian wasn't pressured by higher-ups to keep Bush's record clean, or that Bush wasn't grounded, or that any of the things alleged in the memos were false?

I didn't say anything about that one way or the other. Why are you putting words in my mouth?
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 4:44 PM on September 19, 2007


The suit isn't about whether the documents were fake or not.
posted by bshort at 4:49 PM on September 19, 2007


If the font doesn't fit, you must acquit.
posted by Poolio at 4:51 PM on September 19, 2007


"Klang, I thought "fake but accurate" had died a death of a thousand horselaughs by now."

Well, it's a good thing I didn't say that then, isn't it? I said "Impossible to know," if I might paraphrase myself. Feel free to look upthread.

"I didn't say anything about that one way or the other. Why are you putting words in my mouth?"

Why, indeed, Steven? Do you or do you not feel that the content was accurate?
posted by klangklangston at 4:52 PM on September 19, 2007


"Against the CBS Evening News, this is Dan Rather testifying. Good night."
posted by brain_drain at 4:55 PM on September 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


The World Famous : You say that as if draft-dodging somehow makes "warmonger" worse.

Oh, but it does: there are people who have been through combat, which because of their background, consider armed conflict the hammer for most nails. I don't agree with them, but at least I know that there decisions are coming from experience. They know the cost, because they've seen it with their own eyes.

Then there are people who, because of living in a time of peace, never had to engage in combat. They've never seen the battlefield and they may choose violence in ignorance of the horrors that go along with it.

What makes a draft-dodging chickenhawk worse than either of these, is that they know about the horrors; they were too afraid to face them when the nation asked, and they ran and hid. But now that they are in charge, they are more than willing to put others into the same situations that they themselves fled.

It's worse because it's the epitome of hypocrisy.
posted by quin at 5:07 PM on September 19, 2007 [4 favorites]


It's worse because it's the epitome of hypocrisy.

Ah. So it's worse in the sense that the person doing the warmongering is, on an individual level, doing something that puts him personally on lower moral footing. But not in the sense that the actual warmongering is worse. So I guess you're worried about Bush on a personal level, in addition to your concern about his policy decisions.

Because see, I really don't care if the President is a hypocrite, as long as he makes good decisions and his policies are the right ones. Warmongering is not worse if its hypocritical warmongering any more than being a serial killer is worse if the serial killer happens to be a surgeon as his day job.

If Bush had been the most ruthless murdering psychopath in all of Saigon but he had the good sense not to invade Iraq, I wouldn't complain one bit about his hypocrisy, and I bet you wouldn't, either.
posted by The World Famous at 5:22 PM on September 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


Do you or do you not feel that the content was accurate?

I don't know and I don't think it's important.

I do think it's important that a major news organization tried to use forged documents to sway a major election. It doesn't matter whether the forged documents were "fake but accurate".
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 5:23 PM on September 19, 2007


Really, Steven? You don't think the President being a draft dodger was important? Or even, less important that reporting on allegations based on documents of dubious providence?

From that, I find it hard to conclude anything other than that a craven partisan bias is woefully distorting your priorities.
posted by klangklangston at 5:30 PM on September 19, 2007


(Also, the " "fake but accurate" " talking point won't work here. But it's a nice try.)
posted by klangklangston at 5:32 PM on September 19, 2007


I do think it's important that a major news organization tried to use forged documents to sway a major election.

Or, you know, they thought they had a legitimate story with the backing of a source they thought was legitimate and decided to report it, which to the shock of millions of webloggers out there is what journalism actually is.

Let me fix your comment for you:

I do think it's important that a major news organization tried to use forged documents to sway a major election.

Ah, now that's the internet journalism we all know and love. You will, of course, provide legitimate evidence for this, I imagine. Because I would hate for you to die, you know, drowning in irony and all that.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:35 PM on September 19, 2007 [3 favorites]


Ah, I think I see where you are coming from TWF. No, in action there is nothing worse or better about a draft dodger starting a war. It's the same bullets and death.

But yeah, from a moral standpoint, it's a completely different can of worms.
posted by quin at 5:36 PM on September 19, 2007


SCDB: I'm sure you didn't mean it this way, but "a major news organization tried to use forged documents to sway a major election" makes it sound like a) CBS intentionally used documents they knew were fake in order to beef up a story; and b) their goal was "sway the election," not "be first to a big scoop."

I'm sure there are lots of people who believe b), though it seems a bit weird to me. But is there anyone who believes a)? I thought the general understanding was that someone faked that letter and got it to CBS, and CBS, because it fit into a story they were already working on and because they were in too much of a hurry, went to press without doing the most basic fact-checking. Which was a fantastically stupid thing to have done. And Dan Rather, by this time, ought to know that being a figurehead goes both ways -- you get the credit for stories you did nothing but read aloud, but you also take the fall when the operation you figuratively head screws up in a massive way.
posted by escabeche at 5:43 PM on September 19, 2007


I do think it's important that a major news organization tried to use forged documents to sway a major election.

Don't change the subject.

Klang, it's "provenance."
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:45 PM on September 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


So I guess his HDnet checks kept bouncing.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:50 PM on September 19, 2007


I do think it's important that a major news organization tried to use forged documents to sway a major election.

If it's good enough for Fox News in their promotion of the Swift Boat Liars, then anybody should be allowed to do it.

And the way the NYT held back the wiretapping story on the eve of the election to protect Bush, why doesn't the right-wing-o-shphere give them a little credit for that?

Do you or do you not feel that the content was accurate?
I don't know and I don't think it's important.


I know that SCDB doesn't care how dishonest, cowardly and generally immoral George W. Bush is and always was, but some of the more morally-upstanding Americans do.

For the record, I really don't care myself. I'm sitting on the sidelines enjoying the spectacle of the Destruction of America at Bush & Cheney's hands. But I remain extremely annoyed by the claims of moral superiority by MeFi's right-wing troll brigade. If you'd just come out and admit that your net worth is all you care about and you really do enjoy watching people suffer and die, I'd stop being an ass in your direction.
posted by wendell at 7:07 PM on September 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well, it's a good thing I didn't say that then, isn't it? I said "Impossible to know," if I might paraphrase myself. Feel free to look upthread.

...where it says:

They'll have to have more than one crank's "typography" bullshit.

Why, that doesn't sound too much like a neutral "who knows" statement. Coincidentally, given the typographical evidence, even admitting a statistically significant possibility that the memos presented by Rather were real is equivalent to arguing literalist-style creationism. And then you say:

From that, I find it hard to conclude anything other than that a craven partisan bias is woefully distorting your priorities.

Oh... okay, then. Good thing your levelheaded, nonpartisan approach can identify exactly who the "cranks" are. And kudos on a skillful derail from the question of authenticity to the old "fake but accurate" canard. And preemptive kudos on the scathing denial you're sure to write in response to this.

It's touching to see so many cling to their delusions.
posted by Krrrlson at 7:14 PM on September 19, 2007


Really, Steven? You don't think the President being a draft dodger was important? Or even, less important that reporting on allegations based on documents of dubious providence?

From that, I find it hard to conclude anything other than that a craven partisan bias is woefully distorting your priorities.


I think that 35 years is a long time. I know I was a lot different kind of person in 1970 than I was in 2005. And I believe that people can change, improve, grow, their entire lives and shouldn't be pilloried for mistakes they made when they were young.

So to answer your question, no, even if it were true that Bush was a draft dodger (which I don't think is the case) I wouldn't think it would matter.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 7:17 PM on September 19, 2007


[Just to prove that: in 1965, I was a Christian. In 1970, I was a liberal. I've learned a lot and changed a lot since then.]
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 7:18 PM on September 19, 2007


Thanks, Tullius: I've always liked that video.

From Wikipedia:

R.E.M. vocalist Michael Stipe said of the incident: "It remains the premier unsolved American surrealist act of the 20th century. It's a misunderstanding that was scarily random, media hyped and just plain bizarre."

Media hyped ... sounds familiar.
posted by bwg at 7:19 PM on September 19, 2007


Go Dan, Go.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:32 PM on September 19, 2007


R.E.M. vocalist Michael Stipe said of the incident: "It remains the premier unsolved American surrealist act of the 20th century. It's a misunderstanding that was scarily random, media hyped and just plain bizarre."

It would be cool if Stipe had said that about the fake Bush memo.
posted by escabeche at 7:33 PM on September 19, 2007


[Just to prove that: in 1965, I was a Christian. In 1970, I was a liberal. I've learned a lot and changed a lot since then.]
posted by Steven C. Den Beste 11 minutes ago


Are these things mutually exclusive?
posted by caddis at 7:36 PM on September 19, 2007


Just to prove that: in 1965, I was a Christian. In 1970, I was a liberal.

The moronic idea that those two are mutually exclusive is, I believe, one of the major reasons that Bush is still in the White House and any Republican has even the tiniest chance of winning the next presidential election.
posted by The World Famous at 7:37 PM on September 19, 2007


Thing is, SCDB thinks that republicans represent conservative values. Nothing could be further from the truth in the current administration. The republicans have redefined themselves starting with Ronald Reagan, and have gotten less conservative every year. Not that democrats actually represent liberal views either. What defines our parties aren't actual political values, but rather what side on 2 or 3 polarizing issues one stands on.

And as far as the President's character compared to 35 years ago. I think he's proved in spades that he's no different than he was back then. It's easy for him to act tough while everyone else is doing all the dirty work. He's still the same spoiled fratboy, he just has a bigger daddy now.
posted by Eekacat at 8:43 PM on September 19, 2007


"It doesn't matter whether the forged documents were "fake but accurate"."

Sorry, I don't see that at all.

If, as almost everyone here seems to suppose, the document was a dirty trick from Karl Rove, then it's perfectly reasonable that Rather was being the best newsman he could but got trapped by this particular subterfuge. If the content were false then he's just an idiot.

The truth really does matter to me. If newsman X says "X is true! and here's the evidence," I care most at the end of the day whether X was true.

In terms of the history of this failed Presidency, it also certainly matters if the content were true.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:01 PM on September 19, 2007


Gunga Dan?
posted by blue_beetle at 9:12 PM on September 19, 2007


I know I was a lot different kind of person in 1970 than I was in 2005.

The point for me it that you were honest and thoughtful about the difference. Bush is neither.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:05 PM on September 19, 2007


You say that as if draft-dodging somehow makes "warmonger" worse.

I say that as someone who understands that war, as much as I hate to say it, can sometimes be necessary to resolve a serious conflict with evil people.

Therefore, the hope is that violence is conducted only when necessary, and only then for legitimate reasons.

A warmonger is important at such times. The moral legitimacy of this leader is as vital, as it lends justification for his or her conduct during wartime.

An opportunistic, draft-dodging hypocrite like George W. Bush has neither the rational nor moral faculty to make this critical, life-or-death decision on behalf of others' children. We have already seen the tragic consequences of his decision-making process.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:00 PM on September 19, 2007


Are these things mutually exclusive?

No, of course not. By 1970 I was agnostic, and by 1975 I was atheist, but that's not correlated to my changing political positions.

The point is that when I was young I held opinions and beliefs really quite different than I do now. Things change. Circumstances change. People change. To crucify someone for something they did 35 years previously when they were young and stupid and when circumstances were different is at best unfair, at worse deliberate demagoguery.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 11:31 PM on September 19, 2007


SCDB: I'm sure you didn't mean it this way, but "a major news organization tried to use forged documents to sway a major election" makes it sound like a) CBS intentionally used documents they knew were fake in order to beef up a story; and b) their goal was "sway the election," not "be first to a big scoop."

I'll split the difference with you. I don't think that was the purpose from top to bottom of the organization, but I believe that the woman "producer" (the actual reporter in the case, who was eventually fired) deliberately ignored all signals that the documents might be bogus because she was trying to affect the outcome of the election. Her history was of advocacy journalism, which I think is a blight on the landscape, and causes much more harm than good.

And I think that there was a very strong degree of confirmation bias at most levels in CBS which were (probably subconsciously) the result both of the fact that the bogus documents seemed to confirm what they all believed was the case anyway (that being the nature of confirmation bias), plus a probably subconscious hope that it would make a difference in the election.

If anyone thinks that the people at CBS news weren't consciously trying to affect the outcome of the election during that summer and fall, I've got a bridge to sell you.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 11:36 PM on September 19, 2007


Thing is, SCDB thinks that republicans represent conservative values.

No, I don't. But I think they're more conservative than the Democrats. In a two party system, that's what I'm stuck with.

All of which is beside the point, because I'm not a "conservative" except in the eyes of modern American big-L Liberals, who ironically are not liberal.

I wrote about this once: I'm "Conservative" because I'm liberal.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 11:40 PM on September 19, 2007


I say that as someone who understands that war, as much as I hate to say it, can sometimes be necessary to resolve a serious conflict with evil people.

Yeah, and when that happens, the term used to describe the leader who reluctantly goes to war only when it is absolutely necessary is not "warmonger."
posted by The World Famous at 11:53 PM on September 19, 2007


I confess, I'm holding a grudge. 38 years may be a long time, but sometimes it seems like only yesterday when I was serving in Vietnam while Bush pretended to be in the Air National Guard and Cheney had "other priorities." I didn't want to be there, and I didn't choose to be in the Army. Because people like Bush didn't want to go, people like me were rounded up and forced to.

So, yes - it matters to me that Bush is a chicken hawk.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:16 AM on September 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


SCDB is correct in that using a fake document to prove a point, even if you are correct on the point, is not even close to being OK for a journalist. This will be like Watergate and all boil down to what did Rather know, when did he know it, and what did he do with his knowledge. If he lied or was reckless with the truth he will go down in flames, but considering that that has already happened, how much worse could it be? If he truly was the scapegoat who just happened to get caught up in someone else's misuse of documents, he might prevail. In either event it will bring great focus on Bush's efforts to avoid military service. As a news story, this ceased to be big the day after the election. Its potency was always about its ability to affect the election. That in no way means that CBS was trying to affect the election, nor does it mean they were not, it just means that there was an urgency to get the story out while it still mattered. It was big, but after the election it was small. At this point it doesn't matter much as Bush has trashed his legacy already and will likely be remembered as one of the worst presidents in our nation's history along with the likes of Jackson, Harding, Nixon etc. Some of us lefties will chuckle to see such an arrogant man get a bit of comeuppance, but that pretty much ends any practical effect.
posted by caddis at 7:00 AM on September 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yeah, and when that happens, the term used to describe the leader who reluctantly goes to war only when it is absolutely necessary is not "warmonger."

I would cite Winston Churchill as an example of someone who was labeled a warmonger, yet went to war for legitimate reasons (to fight Axis powers). Bush is a warmonger, yet did not go to war for the reasons he claimed publicly (namely, WMDs).
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:10 AM on September 20, 2007


The right wing has always hated Dan Rather, because they view him as the epitome of the "librul media," regardless of whether the facts back up that judgment. (Back in the 1980s, a right-wing group called Fairness in Media tried to buy a controlling percentage of CBS's stock. Jesse Helms said publicly he was looking forward to becoming "Dan Rather's boss.") Dan Rather is not filing this suit because he needs $70 million, but so he can say "Suck it, haters!" to all the right-wingers cackling over how they brought on Dan Rather's downfall (deserved or not). The fun part is getting to see all the damaging info about Bush that will shake out during the discovery phase of this lawsuit. Pass the popcorn.
posted by jonp72 at 9:02 AM on September 20, 2007


in 1965, I was a Christian. In 1970, I was a liberal. I've learned a lot and changed a lot since then.

Flip flopper!!!
posted by inigo2 at 9:13 AM on September 20, 2007


I would cite Winston Churchill as an example of someone who was labeled a warmonger

And do you believe that the term "warmonger" is correctly applied to someone who reluctantly goes to war and only does so when it is absolutely necessary? Do you believe that that describes Churchill correctly? Do you call Churchill a warmonger? Your use of the passive voice is disconcerting.
posted by The World Famous at 9:33 AM on September 20, 2007


If anyone thinks that the people at CBS news weren't consciously trying to affect the outcome of the election during that summer and fall, I've got a bridge to sell you.

And how is that conclusion based anymore on fact and reason than the "fake but accurate" meme? Please, as has been asked countless times, cite evidence. Otherwise, the irony of your assertion just my be too much to take.
posted by dgbellak at 10:00 AM on September 20, 2007


"they thought they had a legitimate story with the backing of a source they thought was legitimate and decided to report it,”

I don’t think they were aiming to sway the election, but merely thinking you have a legitimate source isn’t journalism. Which is the problem with Rather. If you’ve got a multi-billion dollar organization backing you up I don’t see how you can fail to be sure. Although if the reporter who did the background was fired, that’d be a pretty big red flag. I suspect Rather can win this.

“shouldn't be pilloried for mistakes they made when they were young.”

Unless they continue to make the same mistakes. Or distort their past while smearing anothers. I don’t much like Kerry, but I respect his service to the country before and after the war. Bush seems to have been little more than a wealthy gadabout until he fell into politics.
The frustration stems from the (as mentioned) swift boat attacks on Kerry and the tarnishing of the purple heart medal while Bush’s image has been very much - indeed uniquely in some ways - alloyed with military service.
There are also people who blatently misrepresent their service - there are even people who wear medals they were never awarded or say they were former special forces or some such.
Doing it in a barroom is one thing, doing it for personal gain is something else. Doing it as a public official, and continuing to do it, is far beyond a youthful error.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:12 AM on September 20, 2007


And do you believe that the term "warmonger" is correctly applied to someone who reluctantly goes to war and only does so when it is absolutely necessary?

Not "only", but if you ask most military professionals, I suspect you will find they are reluctant to enter a conflict — but if they determine it to be necessary, they will be committed to seeing it through. I may not personally agree with their evaluation of what is necessary, but I believe this realistically describes their decision-making approach.

Do you believe that that describes Churchill correctly?

I think the term does reasonably describe him, and not in a pejorative sense. He was a battle veteran, understood the human consequences of war, and yet called for violent conflict with Nazi Germany at a time when Chamberlain (and most of Europe) conducted a policy of appeasement or neutrality.

His was not a popular opinion, and I believe holding that opinion publicly required the same kind of bravery that, say, Senator Feingold displayed in voting against the Iraq resolution back in 2002. I would still disagree with most of Churchill's political and social views.

Your use of the passive voice is disconcerting.

You may perhaps be attempting to use a sketchy grammatical convention to somehow disprove my point. Nonetheless, I think there is a historical case to be made that electing a warmonger can be necessary, and at the right time useful, when evil is afoot. Choosing the right warmonger for the right reasons, therefore, seems critical.

To return to my original point, jokes about his intelligence aside, Bush is clearly incapable as a commander-in-chief, and his decisions are based upon a foundation of lies. From a moral and political viewpoint, he has little legitimacy. The irony of being simultaneously a draft dodger and a fervent warmonger does, in my opinion, worsen the scope of the damage he has caused. Typography can't undo the harm he has accomplished.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:52 AM on September 20, 2007


The irony of being simultaneously a draft dodger and a fervent warmonger does, in my opinion, worsen the scope of the damage he has caused.

I guess that's where we disagree. I don't think that irony makes damage worse. Just more ironic.
posted by The World Famous at 10:58 AM on September 20, 2007


well said BP
posted by caddis at 11:28 AM on September 20, 2007


I don't think that irony makes damage worse.

I think not being competent to understand the human cost of war while simultaneously promoting it as the only solution to a problem is an attitude that will often lead to more damage being done, than less. Indeed, in the case of George W. Bush this is empirically true. The irony embodies the tragedy of this in a succinct way.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:23 PM on September 20, 2007


I do like that you've changed the subject to something that I don't dispute.
posted by The World Famous at 3:37 PM on September 20, 2007


I was only answering your question.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:18 PM on September 20, 2007


The question about your use of the term "warmonger?"
posted by The World Famous at 5:23 PM on September 20, 2007


Yes.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:31 PM on September 20, 2007


Of course, SCDB, you apply the same logic to John Kerry, in light of the accusations of the Swift Boaters, right? Assuming you accepted their assertions, were you willing to look past Kerry's misconduct while in Viet Nam as you were considering his fitness for the Presidency? And if you didn't accept their assertions, did you feel the same about their actions that you did about Rather's (and CBS's) - that it was at best unfair and at worst demagoguery? Did it matter to you that, inevitably, the Swifties acted with the tacit approval of the Republicans - ie, the Repbulicans were contributing to the slandering of a decorated vet?

Support the troops, indeed...

/dredging up the past, still angry but trying to have a calm discussion
posted by fingers_of_fire at 10:04 PM on September 20, 2007


Why we shouldn't feel sorry for Dan Rather.

Gotta say, Dan Rather really didn't do the world any good when he decided to suck up to CBS instead of stand his ground.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:20 PM on September 24, 2007


I don't think that irony makes damage worse. Just more ironic.

If you don't believe in the meaning of words, the meaning of deeds, or the meaning of meaning in anything other than a tragiocomic context, then to be sure it doesn't make it worse.

Bush is not the first example of an empty suit being elected President and launching a country into a costly war, but he's arguably the worst, given the people who comprise his base (people who so pride themselves of supporting the military, the should know better). That a man without military or other distinction was able to do this at a such a serious and deadly cost to so many is very meaningful indeed.
posted by psmealey at 1:06 PM on September 25, 2007


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