Wednesday, November 24, 2004

A Rather Ugly Exit


Retired Associated Press exec Louis D. Boccardi and former U.S. Attorney General Dick Thornburgh are supposedly examining the "60 Minutes II" episode — and, in particular, the role producer Mary Mapes played in its preparation.

Mapes had been gunning for Bush for at least five years and finally — she thought — had struck paydirt. Rather, " 'hard-news' investigative reporter" that he is, got sucked in. Together, they wrecked the credibility of the erstwhile Tiffany Network.

In the final analysis, though, they were merely the network's agents.

Boccardi and Thornburgh need to do more than determine whether Rather and Mapes get away with it. There has to be a full public accounting of the circumstances and environment that made the attempted hit possible in the first place.

As it is, Mapes' future is an open question.

But Rather, sort of, gets to skip town before judgment is rendered.

His last day in the anchor chair is meant to be March 9, 24 years to the day after he succeeded Walter Cronkite — an anchor once described as the "most trusted man in America."

History's verdict on Rather will be — needs to be — much harsher.

He has only himself to blame.

Courage, Dan.


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