When they do conclude, Thornburgh and Boccardi should demonstrate how Dan Rather was in violation of his own precious journalistic principles. In his 1994 book, "The Camera Never Blinks Twice," Rather lectured: "A serious journalist can't run with a story without confirmation. Two sources at the absolute minimum. ...This is how your narrator made it through Watergate. If I'd gone off half-cocked, if I'd gotten my facts scrambled, if I'd run with unconfirmed leads, I'd be selling insurance right now."
Rather, a failed salesman for a fly-by-night scam with the address of a Texas branch office of Kinko's, would not qualify to sell insurance today.
Sadder still has been the decision of Peter Jennings and Tom Brokaw to circle the wagons around Rather's flagrant violation of journalistic ethics, responding in extremely political tones.
Jennings said you can't judge Rather by this one little mistake. It's sort of like saying you can't judge Richard Nixon by one minor burglary at the Watergate.
For his part, Tom Brokaw was back to blaming the real villains, including this narrator: "Brent Bozell has, you know, an entire organization devoted to doing as much damage, and I choose that word carefully, as he can, to the credibility of the news divisions." In Brokaw's cartoonish view of the media bias debate, there are the right-wing bullies on one side, and on the other, "These three aging white men are stuck somewhere in the middle trying, on a nightly basis, to give a fair and balanced picture of what's going on in the world." And these anchors think George W. Bush is living in a fantasyland?
It's not encouraging that CBS wants to bury its own probe. And it's certainly not encouraging that since CBS appointed Thornburgh and Boccardi, the "news" they put out has been even more hostile to President Bush, even worse than all the other network news operations. CBS is not acting apologetic or defensive. They seem to be sailing full speed ahead with the slogan: We have not yet begun to smear.