The clown


Unable to resist the temptation, your blogger turned over to the CBS Evening News to see just what Dan Rather would have to say as he parted from the set he had lorded over for over 20 years. Not unexpectedly, his remarks were totally inappropriate, self—serving, and odd.

In a choked voice that threatened to crack and open up the water works as happened upon the death of John F. Kennedy, Jr. (a blatant attempt to link himself with Walter Cronkite's genuine shock and reaction to the death of President Kennedy), Rather talked about how much the audience and he had been through "together," including 9/11, natural disasters, and the like, as if their very survival hinged on what he had to say about those events.

He then carted out the sign—off word "Courage," for which he had been so mocked when he used it for a few days years ago and has been again cackled at in the myriad of feature pieces detailing his career in the last few days. Rather tried to identify himself with the courageous reporters who love the truth and "risk all" to tell it to the world. He also wanted to say good—bye to the oppressed, the underprivileged, those in ill health, and the voiceless, who he seems to think depended on <em>his</em> every word and report.

Rather's version of the truth, however, is somewhat at odds with those of us not inhabiting Planet Dan. Rather's version of the truth — as stated on his Evening News program and other CBS appearances — included attempting to lecture President George H.W. Bush about not shaming the United States in the eyes of the world, and running with forged documents to try and shame his son. Rather also believes Bill Clinton is "an honest man" and that he and Hillary did a swell job in the White House and that the murderer Castro is misunderstood. His idea of "courage" is throwing a hissy fit when the U.S. Open ran over his vital newscast and walking off the set for seven full minutes. Courage.

In the end, Rather is just a sad, anachronistic fool who had decades to try and figure out just who he is and never could — all in front of a national audience that dwindled as he twisted. He wanted to be the intrepid reporter in the trenches, notebook at the ready, but he wanted the perceived authority of Cronkite's chair in the studio, and the handsome salary and fringe benefits accorded that puffed—up status that was at any rate built on a foundation of sand. He wanted to be <em>l'homme serieux</em> but wanted the down—home Texan charm that he concocted with prepared "Ratherisms" that made him sound not like a good 'ole boy, but just downright crazy. That is his legacy. And that's the way it is.  

Matt May   3 10 05