LINK - Dan Rather announced Tuesday that he would resign in March as CBS News anchor, catching many by surprise just weeks before the release of a report expected to criticize his role in a discredited story about President Bush's National Guard service.How about I float this wacky possibility: Rather is 73 damned years old. 73. By contrast, Walter Cronkite was only 65 when he signed off the CBS Evening News. True, it was due to CBS' retirement policy at the time which has since changed. But the fact is, Dan Rather had an entire career as news anchor, and Uncle Walter was among us to see the whole thing.
I never see this reason being floated in the news-within-the-news story. Maybe Rather would like to, y'know - do something else at this age?
I do think the Bush National Guard story may have been instrumental in his decision, but in a very different way than the "He's being pushed out" scenario everyone's embracing. Maybe it was the final straw in this hyper-sensitive political climate telling Dan that it ain't gonna be as free a press as you remember, pal.
The "sin" in that episode, as you may or may not recall, was not that the information in those papers was false. In fact, everyone agrees the content was very much real and the truth. It's that the documents shown on TV were found to be replicas of the originals. For this, Rather - as the face of CBS News - had to go before the cameras and apologize profusely.
There was a time when a man apologizing was enough for us to move on. But as we keep saying here day after day after day, contrition is a sign of weakness under this GOP regime. Rather's critics wouldn't let up. They only saw the apology as an admission, and as such, only his head on a silver platter would be the proper conclusion.
For this reason, I truly believe that Dan Rather has finally decided that these days aren't made for guys like him. The journalists who dare to challenge our elected leaders on our behalf to get the truth about their actions are officially leaving the airwaves when Rather makes his final bow.
Believe me, there's rejoicing in the wingnuttery today. The last remaining broadcast network voice of questioning authority is going away in March. Ironically, Rather did only a mild version of what the right wing media do every five minutes: Take some information, make a scenario and put it out there. The difference is, Rather would seek out the objects of the story. Fox News and the talking heads of wingnut radio bring on "experts" only to bolster their theories.
So Dan Rather will take his microphone and go home, leaving a void which seemingly no one wants to fill.
It's been a wild journey. Some of it was, well, interesting ("What's the frequency, Kenneth?"; "Courage"). But I prefer to remember his on-the-scene reporting of the Vietnam war, his fiery confrontations at Nixon's press conferences (remember press conferences?) and his investigative stories which harkened back to the ballsiness of Edward R. Murrow and Mike Wallace - and which never required apologies from him or CBS News. Rather's work was done not only out of his inherent quest for answers, but also out of our own curiosity and hunger for truth.
Thanks for being there, Dan. A lot of us will truly miss you.