Watergate redux

In the New York Post Eric Fettman elaborates on the parallels between Hurricane Dan and Watergate: “It isWatergate.” Dan Rather really turned himself into a celebrity as an adversary of Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal. Now he will end his career looking like no one so much as the Nixon of Watergate.
Dan Rather’s discussions of the fix he’s in strike me as bizarre. One common theme of his comments is his “guts” in taking on the big sticks like President Bush. Does anyone who actually possesses the virtue of courage tout it like Rather? “Courage!” The guy seems to fancy himself a legendary hero of some kind.
“Nuts” would be more like it — like Richard Nixon (according to Woodward and Bernstein) in the final days of Watergate. In Rather’s case, however, “nuts” seems to have been the operative state of mind for a far longer time than in Nixon’s. At Slate, Bryan Curtis makes a compelling case for the “nuts” diagnosis: “The anchor as madman.”
At the Standard Online Noemie Emery formulates some questions for Dan Rather that are better than the ones I posed yesterday: “Dear Mr. Rather.” Emery powerfully observes the similarity between the CBS/60 Minutes story attacking President Bush and litigation in the adversary system of justice:

We would…like to know something more about the way your stories are structured. We understand that numerous people disputed both the content and authenticity of these disputed memos, talked to you repeatedly, and referred you to others, none of whom ever appeared on air. We wonder if anyone ever told you that when there appear to be two sides of a story, it is common to mention them both. There are two situations in which it is customary to present only one side of a disputed story, and neither one is called journalism. One is in court when making a case to a jury, and the other is when making a case for a candidate in a campaign. Which did you imagine yourself to be in this case, a prosecutor or a campaign official?
We bring up this last point because it seems sometimes that this . . . er, one-sidedness, applies to your network as well as yourself. You may have noticed that over the past year 60 Minutes has become a Book of the Week Club for Bush-bashing volumes. We have no objection to your bringing on people who challenge the president, but sometimes these challengers need to be challenged. Sometimes too, people write books that challenge the Democrats, but these other authors somehow never get time on your airwaves. Do you see yourselves as consultants, making commercials for Democrats? If not, please explain.


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