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Dan Rather Still Wants To Blame Everyone Else For His Bloopers

Let's face it. The Bush-avoided-National-Guard-duty fiasco that cost him his job was just one instance where Big Dan's panties got all in a bunch. If the CBS Evening News had been # 1 in the ratings the network would have found a way to sweep it under the rug, but Dan's nightly broadcast was running dead last. It was all the excuse they needed to give him the boot.

Dan Rather has always been an impetuous journalist. He was the one who set the bar on reporting from the danger zone. He was the last to interview Saddam Hussein before his capture. He sat in Uncle Walter's anchor chair for 24 years. That's no small feat.

Dan is also the guy who stormed off when a preceding sports event ran into overtime, cutting into his allotted airtime. CBS broadcast four whole minutes of absolutely nothing while producers begged, groveled and did God knows what else to get him back on set. He's also the guy who claimed to be attacked by a mysterious crazy who kept screaming, "What's the frequency, Kenneth?" as he clotted him about the face and neck. No one has ever figured out what really happened there, but one should note that this alleged incident occurred in busy midtown Manhattan in broad daylight, and not a witness could be found.

In September, 2004, dogged by basement ratings and craving that big scoop that would put him back on top of the heap, Rather leapt at the chance to discredit the President's military service (or lack thereof). He eagerly told viewers of newly discovered evidence that W disobeyed orders and didn't properly fulfill his commitment to the Guard, and that his commander aided and abetted his actions by covering it up. Unfortunately for Dan, the documents purported to prove all this weren't verifiable. Upon investigation CBS decided the report was neither fair nor accurate. They fired the producer, demanded three executives resign and yanked the anchor chair out from under Dan's creaky old ass.

It took him a while (perhaps because he is old and getting doddery), but now Danny Boy is fighting back. Today Rather filed a $70 million suit against CBS and its CEO, Les Moonves; Viacom and its Chairman, Sumner Redstone; and former President of CBS News Andrew Heyward. He claims the report he gave is true, but if there were any errors in his report that it's not his fault. He claims he was made a scapegoat to "pacify" the White House. Apparently picking on Katie Couric and hosting his teeny weeny little cable show just isn't enough to keep the big boy happy, and he wants someone to pay.

CBS and Viacom seem completely unfazed by Rather's suit, making one wonder whether it has any viability. Rather's claims that any inaccuracies were the fault of the producer and fact-checkers employed beneath him are not totally unrealistic - that's how the network news game is played. Maybe CBS should just pay Katie to go away, pay Dan to go away, and pay Bob Schieffer to come back. The show's ratings climbed out of the mud under his watch, not under theirs, and he probably made a fraction of what they did.













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