Sunday, December 28, 2008


Christopher Goodwin, Observer - A $70m lawsuit filed by Dan Rather, the veteran former newsreader for CBS Evening News, against his old network is reopening the debate over alleged favorable treatment that Bush received when he served in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam war. Bush had hoped that this controversy had been dealt with once and for all during the 2004 election.

Eight weeks before the 2004 presidential poll, Rather broadcast a story based on newly discovered documents which appeared to show that Bush, whose service in the Texas Air National Guard ensured that he did not have to fight in Vietnam, had barely turned up even for basic duty. After an outcry from the White House and conservative bloggers who claimed that the report had been based on falsified documents, CBS retracted the story, saying that the documents' authenticity could not be verified. Rather, who had been with CBS for decades and was one of the most familiar faces in American journalism, was fired by the network the day after the 2004 election.

He claims breach of contract against CBS. He has already spent $2m on his case, which is likely to go to court early next year. Rather contends not only that his report was true - "What the documents stated has never been denied, by the president or anyone around him," he says - but that CBS succumbed to political pressure from conservatives to get the report discredited and to have him fired. He also claims that a panel set up by CBS to investigate the story was packed with conservatives in an effort to placate the White House. Part of the reason for that, he suggests, was that Viacom, a sister company of CBS, knew that it would have important broadcasting regulatory issues to deal with during Bush's second term.

Among those CBS considered for the panel to investigate Rather's report were far-right broadcasters Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter. . .

Rather's lawsuit makes other serious allegations about CBS succumbing to political pressure in an attempt to suppress important news stories. In particular, he says that his bosses at CBS tried to stop him reporting evidence of torture at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. According to Rather's lawsuit, "for weeks they refused to grant permission to air the story" and "continued to raise the goalposts, insisting on additional substantiation". Rather also claims that General Richard Meyers, then head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the top military official in the US, called him at home and asked him not to broadcast the story, saying that it would "endanger national security".

Rather says that CBS only agreed to allow him to broadcast the story when it found out that Seymour Hersh would be writing about it in the New Yorker magazine. Even then, Rather claims, CBS tried to bury it. "CBS imposed the unusual restrictions that the story would be aired only once, that it would not be preceded by on-air promotion, and that it would not be referenced on the CBS Evening News," he says.

The charges outlined in Rather's lawsuit will cast a further shadow over the Bush legacy. He recently expressed regret for the "failed intelligence" which led to the invasion of Iraq and has received heavy criticism over the scale and depth of the economic downturn in the United States.


At December 29, 2008 3:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope Rather wins...Bush needs to be impeached or go through a long civil trial, which he then loses and is given a choice: digging his own grave (over which a scaffold is erected), or emigrating to Siberia as a new citizen of the Russian Federation.

- Strelnikov

At December 29, 2008 5:45 AM, Anonymous Mairead said...

I think his behavior merits a criminal trial, a new N├╝rnberg Tribunal at which he, BushCo, and their shills such as Meyers will stand in the dock and be prosecuted for crimes against peace and humanity.

I'm not completely clear about the punishment after conviction, though. Perhaps just put them all in a zoo somewhere, a monkey island guarded around the clock, to stay there for the rest of their unnatural lives.

At December 29, 2008 9:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now that Dubya is stepping down, I don't think that having people prove he was delinquent in the military will bother anybody. He certainly can't be legally punished now, and he isn't running for office anymore.

Rather's lawsuit will settled against CBS, not Bush.

Whether Dubya retires to his million acre ranch in Paraguay, or back to Texas, it makes no difference. They're both fairly primitive foreign countries.

At December 29, 2008 11:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reagan politics in the early 1980s resulted in CBS's 60 Minutes firing a producer working with Ed Bradley on a story about Angola. 60 Minutes assumed the producer's connections in Angola were with Savimbi & UNITA, the struggle the US was supporting. But they were not. Bradley, waiting to board a plane for Luanda with his crew, received a wire from Luanda telling him not to come. The producer was fired from the show.

As for the honesty of these network television network stars (presenters and producers) bringing us "the truth" from around the globe -- the "wife" waited at home while they luxuriated with local babes at every port of call. . .

DR was apparently notorious.


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