Disgraced CBS newsman Dan Rather should never be able to live down Rathergate, the greatest media fraud of our time. It was, as John and I have argued, “Rather shameful.” If Rather isn’t able to live it down, it won’t be for lack of trying on his part.
On the surface of the Flynn affair is what Rather calls “[t]his Russia scandal.” Rather opines. “On a 10 scale of Armageddon for our form of government, I would put Watergate at a 9,” Rather wrote on Facebook. “This Russia scandal is currently somewhere around a 5 or 6, in my opinion, but it is cascading in intensity seemingly by the hour.”
It’s good to have Rather’s judgment on the record. What we really want to know, however, is whether it’s as big as Rathergate. For public purposes, Rather sees no scandal in Rathergate. On a 10 scale he has that one at zero. He is still sticking by the story that led to his defenestration from CBS News.
In his 2012 memoir Rather pleads guilty only to “putting a true story on the air.” According to Rather, “There is a through-line, a long and slimy filament that connects the ‘murder’ of Vince Foster to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and to the discrediting of the Killian memos.” That “slimy filament” is “a dirty thread” that “stretches all the way . . . to the birther movement.” If a through-line can cascade in intensity, this one certainly has.
Larry O’Connor puts Rather’s observation in the appropriate context here. On Rather’s 10 scale, I would put Rathergate at a 9. I think of it now as the time CBS News attempted to “hack” a presidential election.
As I argue in the adjacent post, “[t]his Russia scandal,” as Rather calls the events leading to Flynn’s resignation, is of some significant magnitude. It may even be cascading in intensity. Rather to the contrary notwithstanding, however, it’s not a “Russia scandal.”