Wednesday, March 09, 2005
The Long, Slow, Painful Goodbye
The long national nightmare of the CBS Evening News will end tonight. Then, perhaps, the roughly seven million television sets evidently left on to play to empty living rooms across the country will have something worthwhile to broadcast.
For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, you're not alone. You don't use CBS as a news source. You watch CSI. Well, tonight Dan Rather is finally hanging up the anchor chair.
Its about damn time.
So the question is, for what will Dan Rather be remembered? I submit for your review three events of his biased career:
1. September 11, 1987. Rather marched off the set of the CBS Evening News when a tennis match threatened to cut into his broadcast. The Graf-McNeil tennis match ended sooner than expected at 6:32 p.m., but Rather was nowhere to be found. Over 100 affiliates were left scrambling with an embarrassing six minutes of dead air. By the time Rather was found and placed before the camera, most of the audience had already tuned out. The audience disconnect remains to this day.
2. January 25, 1988. In an effort to out do himself in the arena of journalistic screw ups, Rather took aim at then Vice President George H.W. Bush. Iran-Contra was the subject, and rather than let the VP say a complete sentence, Rather grilled him, repeatedly cutting him off and arguing with him. Bush 41 finally had enough and the exchange went something like this:
Rather: I don't want to be argumentative, Mr. Vice President.
Bush: You do, Dan.
Rather: No -- no, sir, I don't.
Bush: This is not a great night, because I want to talk about why I want to be president, why those 41 percent of the people are supporting me. And I don't think it's fair to judge my whole career by a rehash of Iran. How would you like it if I judged your career by those seven minutes when you walked off the set in New York?
Rather never recovered from that exchange, and he has attempted to gain revenge any way possible ever since.
Which brings us to the scandal that will forever tarnish the Rath legacy.
3. Memogate. I will not here recount that which you should know so well by now. If you need a refresher course, see my postings View from an Earhole, and View from an Earhole Redux.
That, Mr. Rather, is your legacy. You've taken the house that Murrow built, and Cronkite expanded, and driven it headlong into the pavement. Congratulations.
Finally to quote one of your own Ratherisms, your eight-month farewell and obfuscation tour has been "like a too tight swimsuit on a too long ride back from the beach."
Here endeth the lesson.