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January 24, 2006

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Sarah and I were sitting at her
grandmother's table in Tiltonsville,
when she asked me if I wanted
to go hear Dan Rather speak in
Seattle. That was odd. I sure as
hell don't trust the network news.
And I thought it sad during Bush's
inauguration in January '05
Rather "reported" the contents
of the Presidential Lunch Menu.
Well, he'd taken a swipe at the
big boys and been slapped down
(the GW Nat'l Guard memo which
later turned out to be forged
), so I
figured now that he was retired
maybe he had something to get off
his chest. The problem is, he isn't
fully retired from CBS News. Yes,
he's no longer anchor, but I guess
he still has 60 Minutes. Had I
known that I never would have gone.
But I didn't know that, so we went.
After a longwinded personal anecdote
about his boyhood in Texas (meant, I
think, to show the audience what a
regular guy he is--something Bush
might do), then a patronizing and gratuitous remark about the Seahawks
(who have been front page news here in Seattle for two weeks now*, illustrating
why I mistrust commercial media), Dan belabored his "New Year's Resolutions
for Journalists," a three-point plan demanding digging deeper, asking tougher
questions, and following up on those questions. It sounded like a speech one
might deliver to a press club. Nothing wrong with that, but it rang pretty hollow.
In the end, Mr. Rather struck me as any other successful old man who expects
respect when he walks into a room--vain but cloaked in false modesty. He is
all smiley and kind while in authority (speaking to a silent audience), but once
a probing question was raised in the Q&A session which followed, he became
quite firm and flatly refused to discuss it further.
                                                                   So much for asking tough questions...
Take the money and run.
*This was written on January 30 2006

if I knew then what I know now – I would not have gone ahead with the story as it was aired, and I certainly would not have used the documents in question