Rather was not the victim of this episode. The wronged man in this story was President George Bush. Before you even engage Rather on his so-called "facts" in his disgraced story, there was at its very beginnings a glaring partisan double standard. Dan Rather never demonstrated an investigative journalist's ardor to explore the draft records of Bill Clinton, but Rather and his enabler Mary Mapes dove into Bush's records. He went after Bush's military record during the 2004 campaign, but had no time to investigate the scandal surrounding Kerry's Vietnam record.
Democracy is not synonymous with whatever hatchet job Dan Rather bravely pursues, but with each citizen's input in the electoral process. The bloggers and reporters who picked Rather's story apart? That was democracy in action, too. Even the liberal media quickly discovered in their probes that CBS had no checks or balances in their one-sided war on Bush, and rightly denounced them. That was also a free press doing its job.
What CBS put on the air in September 2004 was not "independent" journalism -- it was partisan hackwork, dependent on Bush-hating Democrats to secure the phony documents. Mapes was pressed to put her document-leaker in contact with the Kerry campaign in a quid pro quo for the allegedly important papers. In the end, the proper I-word for Rather's journalism on this story isn't "independent," it's "indefensible."
Dan Rather does have prominent defenders who are as loopy as he is. Rosie O'Donnell wrote Rather one of her trademark lower-case poems: "it has to shift / dan rather / saying there is a man behind the curtain / that he will not pretend / at one time being a journalist meant something / when we had a free press in this country."
On the Bill Maher show on HBO, leftist comedienne Janeane Garofalo gave Dan her support: "I have no doubt that there were executives at CBS that folded under right-wing coercion. ... It doesn't seem like it's a democracy at all when you let that happen."
Garofalo is a pitch-perfect Rather ally, a woman who took to the little-watched MSNBC network and proclaimed President Bush was "unelectable, in my opinion" -- on the night of his second inauguration.
The Rather Fan Club requires its members to be just like their idol -- in complete denial.