Jonah Goldberg

When people are in deep, deep - China Syndrome deep - denial about their predicament, you can get a really good sense of how they see the world. Denial, after all, is simply the place where your personal interpretation of reality splits off from the objective facts. When Hitler ordered massive counterstrikes using forces that no longer existed, you can be sure his generals understood that the boss had taken leave of this world.

At least that's what comes to mind as I listen to Dan Rather rant about a world that can only be seen by CBS employees through the tinted windows of their conference rooms.

"I try to look people in the eye and tell them the truth," Rather told the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz in an interview the same day CBS more or less admitted their now famous Bush memos are fakes. "I don't back up. I don't back down. I don't cave when the pressure gets too great from these partisan political ideological forces."

He added: "This is not about me. . I recognize that those who didn't want the information out and tried to discredit the story are trying to make it about me, and I accept that."

What a hero. What a paladin for truth, justice and the American way. Here's the problem: Rather isn't standing up to partisan political forces. Indeed, among the forces that have been most energetic in making Rather look ridiculous are the Washington Post and ABC News. The New York Times and NPR haven't been as good, but they have hardly ignored the fact that Rather shot himself in the foot and kept holding down the trigger as he worked his way up his body. Indeed, even CBS News has adopted the position that the memos are fakes but the story is true.

As a conservative, I'm open to the suggestion that the aforementioned critics are "partisan political ideological forces." But I doubt any reasonable person would put them in the camp of George W. Bush. Rather would sound more sane if he said Hobbits are conspiring against him.

Now, Dan Rather is fairly famous for always - always - ascribing criticism to "partisans." Rather has called liberal media bias "one of the great political myths." He told the New York Post a few years ago that the charge of liberal bias is really just a way for conservatives to intimidate reporters, "to force you to report the news the way they want you to report it."

"My job is to be accurate and fair, an honest broker of information. Period," he wrote in "I Remember," his 1991 memoir. "It is a job that automatically puts me down in places Sen. Helms dislikes."

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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