Monday, October 01, 2007

Greg Palast, Dan Rather and the new symbol of the age....

"Andrew is just a student and still needs a couple of lessons in posing questions properly. (Lesson One: “Wear a grounding wire.”) But Andrew has the next lesson down pat: ask the question they don’t want to hear when they don’t want to hear it. Rather could use a few lessons in journalism himself - from Andrew - about taking the heat for the story." - Greg Palast

Dan Rather's lack of support for his own Texas Air National Guard scandal story in 2006 left me a little dazed, and like many, I frankly thought that the story was full of hot air and moonshine. You know the whole narrative; the documents turned out to be forgeries, there was nothing to it, nothing to see here. Move along, move along.

Well, according to Greg Palast, the story that ran was solid. But the story about why you didn't get the story is even more interesting.

The Still-Unreported Story of "Top Gun" George Bush

Monday September 24, 2007

New York- Newly unearthed records reveal that, in 2004, when Americans were in the midst of a brutal electoral battle over whether to reelect a president posing as a war hero, a commanding US reporter, Dan Rather, went AWOL.

Just three months before the election, Rather had a story that might have changed the outcome of that razor-close race. We now know that Dan cut a back-room deal to shut his mouth, grab his ankles, and let his network retract a story he knew to be absolutely true.

In September 2004 when Rather cowered, Bush was riding high in the polls. Now, with Bush's approval ratings are below smallpox, Rather has come out of hiding to shoot at the lame duck. Thanks, Dan.

It began on September 8, 2004, when Rather, on CBS, ran a story that Daddy Bush Senior had, in 1968, put in the fix to get his baby George out of the Vietnam War and into the Texas Air National Guard. Little George then rode out the war defending Houston from Viet Cong attack.

The story is stone-cold solid. I know, because we ran it on BBC Television a year before CBS (see that broadcast here). BBC has never retracted a word of it.

But CBS caved. So did Dan.

That's according to Rather's written confession, his law suit, which is as much a shameful set of admissions as it is a legal complaint. In the suit filed Thursday, Rather tells us that Sumner Redstone, CEO of Viacom, owner of CBS, was "enraged that the [Air Guard] Broadcast had hurt CBS in the eyes of the Bush administration." Viacom then set out to, "divert public attention from the accurate facts reported in the Broadcast concerning President Bush's service (and lack thereof) in the TexANG during the Vietnam War; and enable CBS and Viacom to curry favor with the White House…."

Redstone roared and Dan, hearing his Dark Lord's voice, admits he then "refrained from defending" the truths in the Broadcast. Dan shut his mouth, he confesses, in return for 30 pieces of Viacom silver: a promise that "his contract would be extended."

Had Rather stood up to the Viacommunist thugs and defended his story, President Kerry and our nation could today express gratitude for his public service. Instead, Dan traded the public interest for airtime on 60 Minutes. Yuck.

Now Dan is shocked to find that the network snakes didn't live up to their slimey bargain with him. Well, Dan, that's what happens with snakes. Get in bed with them and wake up slimed. (Lots More.)
Palast is not one to pull punches and he's what Rather used to be; a real, honest-to-gosh Investigative Reporter. He tells the story rather well on the air - I've heard him on a local talk show several times now;
"The Solution Zone." KJFK-1230, 3-4 pm weekdays - except during Baseball Season.


I'm glad that this lawsuit will bring Conservative suits like Sumner Redstone of Viacom out of their closets of smug denial, but it is a sad and graphic truth that Rather is not suing CBS/Viacom for burning him publicly over a truthful story. He's suing them for breach of promises made regarding compensation for his willingness to take a dive.

It must be nice to build up enough integrity to be able to put a fair market value of seventy million dollars upon it, and apparently everyone does have their price. And it occurs to me that few politicians would be that expensive.

That's what is causing me to wonder furiously what other faint responses to obvious outrages are the result of money and pressure. Have we turned into a nation like Mexico, where "Plomo e Plata" is the bottom line?

For instance, UF student Andrew Meyer was tasered after asking the following question of John Kerry:

“Palast says, You won the 2004 election, isn’t that amazing? There was multiple reports on the day of the election of disenfranchisement of black voters in florida and ohio… How could you concede the election on that day?”

It just doesn't get any better than that, does it, Greg? I mean, how many reporters EVER get a moment like that, recorded on tape? When someone uses your work to speak truth to power while dropping your name and waving your book and becomes a headline due to Power's reaction - that's the working man's Pulitzer!

Greg Palast is the author of “The Necklace-ing of Dan Rather” in the New York Times bestselling book, Armed Madhouse:Armed Madhouse: From Baghdad to New Orleans - Sordid Secrets and Strange Tales of a White House Gone Wild (Penguin 2007).

Sign up for Palast’s investigative reports at, check out the whole story in the documentary Bush Family Fortunes support the Palast Investigative Fund here.

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