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Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Is Trouble Brewing for Rather on the Left?

Don't ever let anybody tell you Dan Rather's critics are all a bunch of Right-Wingnut bloggers running around in their PJs. Ron Rosenbaum, a columnist for the reliably lefty New York Observer, has a long letter today in which he skewers Rather for being so Nixonian about taking responsibility for the actions of his underlings. See if you can read this without wincing:

"Well, Dan this is your Moment. This is the Moment you’ll be remembered for, and so far you’ve blown it, and unless you listen to my advice, one thing you won’t be remembered for is courage.
"The way it looks now, you’ll be remembered as the craven boss who let all his underlings get fired because they went the extra mile to please you. You’ll be remembered as the Nixonian character who hid behind a screen of "My underlings made mistakes, not me; I wasn’t in on it."
"While everyone in the world knows they rushed the "story," skipped steps, rushed the verification process for the greater glory of you, Dan. What if the bloggers hadn’t blown the whistle, and you and your crew never learned how pathetically you were gamed by your "sources" ("Lucy Ramirez," come on down!)—and you succeeded in putting one over on the public? Who would be getting the credit? Mary Mapes? No it would be Dan (the President Slayer) Rather."

Ouch! Dan Rather going down in history along with Tricky Dicky? I seriously doubt that there is a sharper wound one liberal could offer another liberal.

Rosenbaum goes on at length about Rather's responsibility for the September 8 broadcast and concludes with this recommendation:

"This is what you have to do, Dan. You’ve got to go on air, let’s say at the beginning of your Evening News broadcast, and say something like this:
'While I accept the findings of the outside commission on the failings of our vetting process, I still believe the underlying facts we reported on were correct. Nonetheless, mistakes were made in the process of vetting the documents. I am responsible for what goes out over the air in my name, and I accept responsibility for those mistakes, including—and let’s stop mincing words here—passing off forged documents to the American public.
'Therefore, after thinking over the process in the last few days, I have decided to resign and to ask the network to reinstate the employees who were fired or forced to resign for mistakes that are my ultimate responsibility, because they knew I wanted this story and wanted it in too much haste.
'I have given this some thought after my initial reaction to the outside report to CBS on the matter, and I think my initial reaction was in error. I shouldn’t have defended the forged memos. Even though I believe our investigative unit was on the right track, this doesn’t excuse my having allowed an inadequately vetted report of this explosive nature to go out under my name in the midst of a Presidential campaign.
'And I realize that only a gesture such as offering my resignation might succeed in restoring the jobs and the honor of the people who essentially were fired for being loyal to me.'
"Think of it, Dan, think what a sensation it would cause! CBS would probably not go along with it, but even so, you’d be defining and framing the moment, defining and framing yourself as a brave leader who took a bullet for his crew—not one who hid behind their skirts."

Following Rosenbaum's advice wouldn't get us any closer to knowing the answer to the two most important questions raised by Rathergate - who actually created the forged documents and why doesn't CBS News pull out all the stops to find out? But it sure would give ol' Dan'l one last dramatic chance to be a man.

BTW, maybe CBS News evinces so little interest in determining the identity of the forger because CBS News already knows who produced those documents but is loathe to admit it?