But we also need this because Rather's "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore" routine will help us get to the bottom of a story that was actually under-covered. CBS News, under Rather's direction, ran with fake documents - or, to be fair, documents so shoddily verified that no unbiased journalist would have run with them. When confronted with the rank incompetence and bad faith of the team he led (the lead producer tried to coordinate with the Kerry campaign), Rather first allowed three of his colleagues to be thrown under the bus, while he took a few more face-saving laps around CBS before he was quietly escorted out the door like the muttering office old-timer who's gone off his feed.
But now he's back like a crazy man who shows up unannounced at the Christmas party smelling like cabbage and old newspapers, wearing a trench coat but no pants. He wants $20 million in compensatory damages and a whopping $50 million in punitive damages. I'm no fancy lawyer guy, but last I checked, punitive damages were awarded to send a signal that "this must never happen again." So what's the "this" here? That network news divisions should never again spend weeks selling off their credibility like a fire sale at Wal-Mart, claiming their story was "fake but true," only to cave in to reality and admit they made a mistake?
The beauty of this lawsuit, which has most legal observers laughing so hard that their neck veins look like one-pound sausage casings with five pounds of ground chuck in them, is that if it goes to trial (shortly after unicorns file my taxes), CBS will be put in the position of having to prove that the story was bogus, while Rather will be forced to look even more like a grassy-knoll theorist, climbing back to the top of the laughingstock tree. So I say again: You go, Dan! I'll bring the popcorn.