According to Anne Morse at the National Review Online, RatherGate isn’t the first time Dan Rather has perpetrated a fraud on the American public and then refused to apologize for it.
On June 2, 1988, CBS aired an hour-long special titled CBS Reports: The Wall Within, which CBS trumpeted as the “rebirth of the TV documentary.” It purported to tell the true story of Vietnam through the eyes of six of the men who fought there. And what terrible stories they had to tell.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, drug abuse, alcoholism, joblessness, homelessness, suicidal thoughts: These tattered warriors suffered from them all.
The The Wall Within was hailed by critics who like the Washington Post’s Tom Shales gushed that the documentary was “extraordinarily powerful.” There was just one problem: Almost none of it was true.
Morse goes on to reveal that only one of the men interviewed had ever even served in combat, while the others held decidedly non-assassin jobs such as equipment repairman, an MP guard in a non-combat area, and an ammo handler. A couple of them also seem to have collectively spent a lot of time in the brig for going AWOL.
As Burkett notes, the records of all of these vets were easily checkable through Freedom of Information Act requests of their military records something Rather and his producers simply didn’t bother to do.
…Thomas Turnage, then administrator of the Veterans Administration, [was] appalled by Rather’s use of bogus statistics on the rates of suicide, homelessness, and mental illness among Vietnam veterans statistics that can also be easily checked. Rather initially refused to comment, and CBS spokeswoman Kim Akhtar said, “The producers stand behind their story. They had enough proof of who they are.” For his part, CBS president Howard Stringer defended the network with irrelevancies. “Your criticisms were not shared by a vast majority of our viewers,” he sniffed, adding that “CBS News and its affiliates received acclaim from most quarters . . . In sum, this was a broadcast of which we at CBS News and I personally am proud. There are no apologies to make.”
One would imagine that the reason most of the viewers didn’t dispute the story was because they didn’t know it was fraudulent. Duh. And critical acclaim doesn’t change the fact that something is a lie.
Perhaps Dan Rather knew the story was a fraud. Perhaps he was just lazy and didn’t bother to actually do any, you know, research before airing the show. I thought this guy was supposed to be a journalist. He looks down on all us pajama-wearing blogger peons who have no appreciation of the skill and hard work involved in Being Dan Rather.
In either case, he is a fool, or at worst, a yellow journalist of the highest caliber.