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October 9, 2007
Dan Rather: By Hook or by Crook
One way or another, Dan Rather was going to personally see to it that the story centered around fake documents that supposedly showed George Bush shirked his National Guard duty during the Viet Nam War was going to see the light of day whether CBS would run the story or not:
Former CBSNEWS anchor Dan Rather pressured CBS to air the failed Bush/National Guard story in September 2004, Howard Kurtz reports in his new blockbuster book: REALITY SHOW: INSIDE THE LAST GREAT TELEVISION NEWS RACE. Rather claims in his lawsuit against CBS that he wasn't involved in the final decision to run the Memogate story.And Kurtz is reporting that Rather was so determined to get the President that he was willing to forgoe the exclusivity for CBS and give their deadly, Bush-hating rival the New York Times the scoop instead:
“I’m going to give one of the documents to The New York Times to run in Wednesday’s paper,” he said. “They’ll have to credit CBS News. That way we can put our stamp on it.” That kind of determined Bush hating should not surprise us. CBS went with a story that was based on questionable documents* in the belief that it would harm the re-election chances of the President. And Dan Rather would have apparently done anything to facilitate it.
“You can’t do that either,” Howard said. “We haven’t finished vetting this.” Rather grumbled and hung up. To raise the specter of giving away a scoop to a competing news outlet was practically unheard of.
*So far as we can tell, the documents were not definitively known to be fraudulent by CBS as an earlier version of this post wrote.