One year after the credibility of CBS News collapsed over their use of fake memos against George W. Bush, lame attempts to rehabilitate CBS seem to be everywhere. Dan Rather is now telling anyone who will listen that after defending the report, then apologizing for it, he now thinks it's true again. Al Gore is suggesting Rather was demoted because the all-powerful White House was angry. At a ceremony for the news and documentary Emmy awards, ABC's Ted Koppel and MSNBC boss Rick Kaplan scrambled like the King's men reassembling Humpty Dumpty. But the eggy mess remains.
In his tribute to Rather, Koppel proclaimed: "Those of us who know you, Dan, those of us who have competed against you, know you to be a man of honesty and integrity and decency." It would have been a great line -- for a roast. But nobody laughed, because Ted was dead serious at this liberal media gathering. Koppel acknowledged weakly that "it appears" Rather "made a mistake" on that National Guard report. "I would simply urge your most vociferous critics to take a page from the White House's own playbook. When one of their own makes a mistake, they stress the importance of looking to the future and of not playing the blame game."
That prompted hearty applause from the assembled scribes. This was not a ceremony dedicated to excellence and accuracy in journalism. It was a pep rally for Team Journalism, still in a feisty battle with Team Bush. Disgraced Dan Rather drew a standing ovation that lasted over a minute.
Rick Kaplan seconded the liberal emotion. "As was the practice in all he did, Dan was meticulously careful to be fair and balanced and accurate." Maybe he was referring to Meticulous Dan attending a Democratic fundraiser in Texas with his daughter and Tom DeLay's partisan prosecutor, Ronnie Earle? I don't know. But then, who is newsroom boss Kaplan -- who never found a presidential golf outing or a stay in the Lincoln Bedroom during the Clinton years to be an appearance problem -- to judge appearances?
The media were all about accuracy and fairness, Kaplan insisted, until conservatives muddied the waters. "When did we allow those with questionable agendas to take the lead and convince people of something quite the opposite? It's shameful." Conservatives should be ashamed when they try to convince people it's not fair to take faxed copies of a Microsoft Word document and try to pass it off as 30 years old? What Kaplan and Co. were saying is that it's not corrupt to lie about conservatives. It's only corrupt to lose to them.