Dan Rather Fights Back
Remember when George W. Bush ran for president that time way back when and the little matter of how he got out of serving in Vietnam by serving in the National Guard that he never served in became an issue? Remember when Dan Rather ran with the story and then got his ass whipped? Sure you do, but just barely.
In the New York Post, Dareh Gregorian writes a story about how Dan Rather’s case against his previous bosses is taking shape. What she nor he have said is how pervasive these tactics are in the American workplace. In other countries they kill you.
Here, much more frequently they get you fired, ruin your career, and do the smear tricks. We were treated to something special when Dan Rather was fired because we got to see what’s usually kept very hush hush. Aggrieved men about to lose their livelihoods sign agreements not to sue or talk to the press in exchange for a year’s salary, or something along those lines. When the Government wants you silenced, there’s always a spineless wimp in the chain of command above you who is glad to take on the job, knowing there’s a quid pro quo in it for him.
Anyone who’s ever done anything the least bit controversial for a living knows about this only too well. What separates Dan Rather from the rest of us is his deep pockets. Some of us can hire crummy lawyers and fight the good fight for several years. Dan, on the other hand, can hire top lawyers and fight the good fight forever. Of course, it will still end somewhat similarly to how it ends with we, the little people. Because odds are he won’t lose, although he might, odds are he’ll settle. He’s suing for about $70 million. That’s a tidy sum, but of course he wants more. He wants vindication, whatever that is.
Vindication is nice, but getting it is rare indeed. Rather than being vindicated for being vilified, I wish Dan would use his deep pockets and story-telling skills to open wide the story about how the American Government is in the business of destroying careers. That’s how politics works. It makes and breaks people.
There are so many examples of how it operates. Sure, each is different in its own way, but to date not one person has ever written the definitive book on the subject. There are no great magazine spreads about how it works. Just silence. And it’s a crying shame.
Anyway, here’s the New York Post article about Dan I was talking about:
Dan Rather says CBS’s skulduggery has cost him jobs everywhere from CNN to A&E.
In papers filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, the former CBS Evening News anchor says his reliance on the network’s false promises that it would defend him after making him a scapegoat for a controversial news report cost him several high-profile jobs – and some lower-profile ones as well.
While he was once a hot property coveted by CNN to be its “face,” the fallout from his report on President Bush’s Air National Guard service resulted in him being turned away from even part-time jobs at CNN, ABC, NBC, Fox, HBO, the History Channel, A&E, Discovery and National Geographic channels, the filing says.
“None of these networks were interested in hiring Mr. Rather, each of them ultimately indicating” to his agent “that he ‘had too much baggage,’ ‘was too hot to handle,’ ‘there was too much controversy,’ or words to that effect,” the papers say.
Rather makes the claims in an amended version of his $70 million lawsuit against his former bosses, which charges that, in order to placate the White House, they damaged his reputation by hanging him out to dry and refusing to let him defend himself.
Rather, 76, said the filing spells out the damage CBS did to his career.
“I continue to stay focused on the big picture and look forward to getting to the truth,” he said in a statement. “We need to ensure that politics and profits don’t come before the public trust in America’s newsrooms.”
A spokeswoman for CBS countered that “Mr. Rather is trying to put forth fraud complaints that the court has already determined to be legally unfounded. We believe he will fail a second time. We will file an appropriate motion to dismiss.”
Rather filed suit against his former bosses last year, charging they duped him into silence after the 2004 news report claimed the president had avoided going to Vietnam by pulling strings to get into the Guard, and then shirked his duties once he was in.
The story came under fire when some of the documents the report relied on were revealed to be forgeries, a charge Rather disputes.
“Since the fall of 2004, CBS has continuously acted to Mr. Rather’s detriment by directing him to publicly apologize, and thus accept the blame, for CBS’s mishandling of the broadcast, despite his blameless conduct,” the suit says.
The suit states network honchos decided to ax him in order “to pacify the White House,” and noted that he was told he was losing his anchor job the day after Bush was elected to a second term.
Rather said he was told by network bigs that they would defend him if he kept his mouth shut, and that they were interested in possibly renewing his contract to keep him with CBS after his contract expired in 2006.
Instead, they kept him mostly off air for the duration of his contract, and then gave him an early boot.