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Jackson Williams

Jackson Williams

Posted: July 22, 2009 04:14 AM

Dan Rather Wins Big Round In CBS/Bush National Guard AWOL Case

What's Your Reaction:

Dan Rather won't let go of his 2007 lawsuit against CBS. There's a reason. He's got sticktoitiveness.

The July 22 NY Times reports that he's just won access to thousands of internal documents. He's also gotten a fraud charge reinstated against the network that had previously been dismissed.

In my mind, this case means more to him than monetary redemption. The guy made upwards of $10 million a year for a quarter-century of evening anchor duty. That's over $200 million before wise investments. He has the juice to go the distance in this litigation, so it ain't about the money.

I remember it seemed fishy that well-orchestrated internet attacks about the CBS memos from Bush's commanding officer were unleashed literally on the very night Rather's now famous 60 Minutes broadcast (Wednesday edition) aired in 2004. Yes, those memos had questionable lineage, and may have been reproductions.

Still, some of the accusations by the right wing blogosphere (that typewriters in the early 70's didn't have raised th capability) were demonstrably false. I inherited my older sister's electric Smith Carona when she went away to college back then, and it already had that feature.

In any event, Rather did a follow-up the week after the initial broadcast, remember? He interviewed the 86-year old personal secretary of Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, Bush's commanding officer in Houston. The elderly woman, a straight shooter, thought CBS's cache of Killian's memos were not originals, but she fiercely stuck to her guns that everything in them, all the bad stuff about Bush, was accurate.

Her evidence: she'd typed the damn things originally, and was Killian's "right hand" for years. Shrub's presence was naturally a big deal because of his father's national prominence, and she remembered like it was yesterday.

I think Rather's ultimate goal is as much about reopening the whole Bush National Guard story as it is getting his pound of flesh out of a former employer.

Unlike the nuttiness from the anti-Obama "birther" crowd, evidence (from the Boston Globe and others) strongly suggests that George W. Bush literally bailed on his Guard duty, got a transfer to Alabama, and then disappeared for at least the final 12 months of his military commitment, perhaps up to 17 months. Some have a lost weekend; he had a lost year.

Viewed within this context, that's what Bush's whole "Mission Accomplished" photo-op in the flight suit was about: rewriting the biggest embarrassment in his background.

Stay resolute, Gunga Dan. You've got a tiger by the tail.