(70) Your Right to Know
This is the second in a series of gratuitous Dan Rather bashings.
There’s been some talk lately about gossip columnists seeking payoffs. Usually it’s the Reagan Nod kind of deal. “Everyone Knew What The President Wanted, He Never Had To Say it.” If Ronnie Boy was not guilty of anything in Iran Contra, it was because he never had to come out and say “sell those guns.” Every one knew what the President Wanted.
And so, to gossip columnists. Everyone knows what the columnists want. There’s no need to ask and there’s no need to offer. Just give ‘em something they can later sell for bucks or for favors from others or for better treatment from their editors. The guy most recently in the crosshairs for bribe taking was just a bit to brash for the rest of the herd. Stupidly, he asked for cash, which later turned out to be a “request for investment…” in his semi-existent line of clothing. Right.
Gossip editors are like Presidents. Everyone knows what they want and they never have to ask. And so the editors, practicing Presidential Plausible Deniability, are clucking and gnashing their teeth and wringing their hands and saying the guy stepped over the line. But if the ransom demand hadn’t been made, those same editors would have been perfectly happy to print whatever story resulted.
Television news anchors are like Presidents. They don’t have to ask for much. Everyone knows what they want and gives it to them.
Some heads rolled at CBS News when Rather did that story about the President and his military service. Story wasn’t true. Possibly, they knew that before they ran it. Why would they run it? Because in television news, the anchorman is President. So, underlings got bounced for doing what they thought was what was wanted - and very possibly what WAS wanted. The heads that rolled should have rolled. But so should the anchorman’s.
Which, ultimately, it did. But like so much else at CBS News it was done with Presidential Plausible Deniability. And with plenty of attempted face-saving.
I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.™