Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Greg Palast: I'd Rather not say Good-bye, Dan

I'd Rather Not Say Good-Bye, Dan


Wednesday, March 9, 2005
By Greg Palast

Without his make-up, Dan looked like hell warmed over: old, defeated, yet angry. And he told our television audience something that just blew me away. Dan Rather said that American reporters may not ask tough questions about George Bush or his wars.

"It's an obscene comparison," Rather said, "but there was a time in South Africa when people would put flaming tires around peoples' necks if they dissented. In some ways, the fear is that you will be neck-laced here, you will have a flaming tire of lack of patriotism put around your neck."

Talking to another reporter, Dan told it straight about the careerism that keeps US journalists in line. "It's that fear that keeps [American] journalists from asking the toughest of the tough questions and to continue to bore-in on the tough questions so often."

Silence as patriotism. Ugh. He confessed, "One finds oneself saying, ?I know the right question, but you know what, this is not exactly the right time to ask it." It was making him ill and he was ready to say, BASTA, enough. Suddenly, there was fire in those eyes: "It's extremely dangerous and cannot and should not be accepted and I'm sorry to say that, up to and including this moment of this interview, that overwhelmingly it has been accepted by the American people. And the current Administration revels in that, they relish and take refuge in that."

Of course, Dan said all these things to a British audience. But back in the USA, Dan had promised America he would be a good boy, a trained press puppy who would poop on the paper set down for him. He told his US audience, "George Bush is the President. He makes the decisions. He wants me to line up, just tell me where."

But CBS' million-dollar man was about to step out of line.

In 2003, BBC Television questioned George Bush's career as Viet Nam era Top Gun fighter pilot. In the British broadcast, I held up a confidential letter from Justice Department files stating that Poppy Bush had put in the fix to get Junior Bush out of 'Nam and into the Texas Air Guard. George could spend the war protecting Houston from Viet Cong attack.

A year after the BBC broadcast, the I'm-going-to-be-a-real-journalist-now Rather decided to run the same story on 60 Minutes. And just as he predicted, the press-police at the network and in the White House seized him and lit the tire around his neck.

What was Dan's mistake? Yes, yes, he shouldn't have embellished the story with a document he couldn't fully source. But that memo (not the one in the BBC report) was about a side issue, not the key accusation, that Senior Bush got Junior out of the draft. Despite not a jot of evidence that the main story of draft-dodgin' George was wrong (BBC never withdrew it), CBS cited Rather's insistence on the veracity of that report as grounds to crush his career and his reputation.

Rather was convicted by a corporate kangaroo court. Dickie Thornburgh, who had been Poppy Bush's Attorney General and owed his big salaries and career to the Bush family, ran an "independent" investigation which concluded -- surprise! -- the Bushes had done no wrong. It was Dan that committed the evil. That whacky conclusion went along just fine with the diktat of Sumner Redstone, CEO of Viacom, CBS' owner, that a "Republican administration is better for media companies."

In "Darkness at Noon," Arthur Koestler explained why old Communists, brought up for trial by Stalin, still sang the system's praises -- just before they were shot. To do otherwise would have been to cast doubt on the cause to which they sacrificed their lives. Now, Dan Rather, like those soon-to-be executed victims of Stalin, has bowed his head in silence in the face of the evil purge. To do otherwise, I suppose, would be to acknowledge that his career has been a path of increasing salaries and celebrity bought by increasing toady-dom.

Imagine if Edward R. Murrow, after having exposed Joe McCarthy, replied to criticism by bowing his head for the noose-man.

Rather died as a journalist years ago by accepting the evil gag orders of the media moguls. Still, I applaud his attempt with the Bush story to kick his way out of his professional coffin. Unfortunately, his current silence simply gives aid and comfort to the censoring corporate news-killers.

Last night, Rather read off his last "news" broadcast, if you can call it that. To Dan the newsman, and to American journalism, all I can say is, rest in peace.

*************

Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestseller, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. Subscribe to his reports at www.gregpalast.com

To see a segment regarding George Bush's war years from the BBC film, "Bush Family Fortunes," winner of the Freedom Film Festival's George Orwell Prize (2005), go to: http://www.gregpalast.com/images/TrailerClips.mov

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Syed Atiq ul Hassan: Eye-Opener For Islamic Community

An event of siege, terror and killing carried out by Haron Monis in the heart of Sydney business district has been an eye-opener for the Islamic Community in Australia. Haron was shot down before he killed two innocent people, a lawyer and a manager ... More>>

Jonathan Cook: US Feels The Heat On Palestine Vote At UN

The floodgates have begun to open across Europe on recognition of Palestinian statehood. On 12 December the Portuguese parliament became the latest European legislature to call on its government to back statehood, joining Sweden, Britain, Ireland, France ... More>>

ALSO:


Fightback: MANA Movement Regroups, Call For Mana Wahine Policy

In the wake of this years’ electoral defeat, the MANA Movement is regrouping. On November 29th, Fightback members attended a Members’ Hui in Tāmaki/Auckland, with around 70 attending from around the country. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: The Mockingjay Of Palestine: “If We Burn, You Burn With Us”

Raed Mu’anis was my best friend. The small scar on top of his left eyebrow was my doing at the age of five. I urged him to quit hanging on a rope where my mother was drying our laundry. He wouldn’t listen, so I threw a rock at him. More>>

ALSO:

Don Franks: Future Of Work Commission: Labour's Shrewd Move

Lunging boldly towards John Key, shouting 'Cut the crap!' - Andrew Little was great, wasn't he? Labour's new leader spoke for many people fed up with Key's flippant arrogant deceit. Andrew Little nailing the Prime minister on lying about contacting a rightwing ... More>>

Asia-Pacific Journal: MSG Headache, West Papuan Heartache? Indonesia’s Melanesian Foray

Asia and the Pacific--these two geographic, political and cultural regions encompass entire life-worlds, cosmologies and cultures. Yet Indonesia’s recent enthusiastic outreach to Melanesia indicates an attempt to bridge both the constructed and actual ... More>>

Valerie Morse: The Security State: We Should Not Be Surprised, But We Should Be Worried

On the very day that the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security released her report into the actions of people the Prime Minister’s office in leaking classified Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS) documents to right-wing smearmonger Cameron ... More>>

Ramzy Baroud: PFLP Soul-Searching: Rise And Fall Of Palestine’s Socialists

When news reports alleged that the two cousins behind the Jerusalem synagogue attack on 18 November were affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a level of confusion reigned. Why the PFLP? Why now? More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news