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Last updated on March 6th, 2018 at 12:30 am
Change a few words, and Dan Rather’s review of Watergate becomes a concise description of his own downfall:
From our Reporter’s Notebook tonight, the constitutional (journalistic) crisis and biggest political (media) scandal in U.S. history, the criminal conspiracy known for short as Watergate (Memogate). Now three decades (six months) later, you will see it from a unique perspective, the perspective of a man who was right in the middle of it.
August 9th, 1974 (March 9, 2005), an unforgettable image: Richard Milhous Nixon (Daniel Irvin Rather) resigns amid the shame and scandal of Watergate (Memogate). With a stiff-armed wave, he bids farewell to a nation. The unraveling was triggered two years (six months) earlier by the infamous break-in (forgery) at the DNC headquarters (Bill Burkett’s house) in the Watergate office complex (central Texas). Five men (CBS employees) tied to President Nixon’s re-election committee (to “60 Minutes Wednesday”) were arrested (fired). The White House (CBS), skilled at controlling the media (media but not the blogs), brushed it off as a third-rate burglary (the work of partisan political operatives) …
In the end, those who became more skeptical and questioning about our politicians (journalists) because of Watergate (Memogate) also found new reason to believe in our Constitution (the new media). The system of checks and balances (blogs), put to its greatest test, in the end worked.
UPDATE. The Weekly Standard recalls Dan’s performance in the wake of the Kennedy assassination:
As reporters from around the world descended on the Texas city, Rather went on the air with a local Methodist minister who made a stunning claim: Children at Dallas’s University Park Elementary School had cheered when told of the president’s death.
The tale was perfect for the moment, reinforcing the notion among distant media elites that Dallas was a reactionary “City of Hate.” It slyly played to a local audience, too: The school named was in upper-income University Park, one of two adjacent municipal enclaves that shared a school district and a reputation for fiercely protected, lily-white privilege. Finally, for the ambitious Rather–a native Texan and then a Dallas resident–the account represented the very sort of revealing, local dirt that the throngs of out-of-town competitors would have to work far harder to get.
Except that it wasn’t true, and Rather knew it …
Guy could really have used an editor.