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Rather Taking a Page Out of Clinton Handbook

Dan Rather must have learned a lot covering Bill Clinton. You can see it in the way he has responded to this scandal. When Bill Clinton was faced with a scandal, no matter his culpability, he denied it. This gave him time to rally his forces and to see what evidence the other side had. Then he would repeatedly make the same tactical moves.-- Tell me if these sound familiar.

Clinton would deny the charges in the most vehement of terms and feign righteous indignation. All Dan is missing is the shaking finger.

Then team Clinton would attack his accusers and attempt to discredit them. Hillary had the "Vast Right Wing Conspiracy." CBS has the bloggers.

Later Clinton would make an impassioned speech to the public saying, "I'm a nice guy, you believe me don't you?"

Then the denials would become increasingly legalistic. Clinton needed a clarification of what the meaning of the word is is and he left the Office of the President still unsure what the words "sexual relations" meant. This morning on CBS Rather said, "The story is true (pause) in that it raised serious and legitimate questions about what then Lt. George W. Bush did or did not due, during his Texas National Guard service." Nobody has denied you asked questions Dan, we wanted to know about the documents.

Above all, the overriding tactic of the Clinton damage control team was to stall. If you stonewall long enough, the media will get bored. CBS has refused to say where it got the documents. They have refused other media organizations access to the documents or even to independent forensics exerts. They, like Clinton before them, have hunkered down and hoped for the media storm to blow over. Then when the billing records memos magically appear sometime in the future, the moment will have passed.

There is another similarity to the most famous of Clinton scandals. When Clinton was faced overwhelming evidence he lied about Monica Lewinsky he knew he could stall. He sent his surrogates to claim Lewinsky was some pathological stalker. For a time it worked, the media told his story. He almost got away with it... until the blue dress. It was DNA evidence, not a crisis conscious, that forced his confession. Without that blue dress, Lewinsky would have been trashed by the administration and Clinton would have denied it forever.

The problem with today's story is that CBS has the blue dress. Without access to those memos, Rather can deny forever that there is a problem with them. They have, in effect, the perfect defense. They have the smoking gun and refuse to let anyone see it.

Which brings us to the last similarity to the Lewinsky affair, Monica had Lucianne Goldberg telling her to come forward with the dress. We are forced to wait for the media to shame CBS into releasing the documents. Baring a scathing editorial from the New York Times or a lawsuit of some kind, they have no reason to release the incriminating evidence.

Unless something changes, it looks like Dan Rather will get away with this... and he'll have Bill Clinton to thank for showing him how.


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Comments (6)

Washington Post Newswire, 9... (Below threshold)

Washington Post Newswire, 9/12/04: "Dem Campaigner Nixes Memo solution"...

"Democratic campaign mavin Terry McAuliffe put the entire so-called "Rathergate" controversy to bed once and for all by issuing a press release today that stated: "I can say unequivically I did not have sexual relations with those documents"...

Excellent analysis.... (Below threshold)

Excellent analysis.

Just saw the Dan Rather Int... (Below threshold)

Just saw the Dan Rather Interview you have linked at (http://www.cbsnews.com//media/2004/09/10/video642731.rm). Viacom shareholders should be outraged that such a dense employee is on their payroll.

At the end of the interview he still claims that the 'th' on the official Bush documents is the same as that on the forged documents. They're TOTALLY different even to the untrained eye. One is clearly superscripted while the other is in the same plane as the adjacent characters. He's so pathetic I'm almost starting to feel sorry for him...NOT!

The definitive forgery analysis by Prof. Joseph M. Newcomer can be found at http://www.flounder.com/bush.htm . It even deals with the two th's. It's right up there with Monica's blue dress. Slam Dunk, Game Over, In Your Face, Forgeda Bout It, [Your Metaphor Here].

Dan Rather once said to Bil... (Below threshold)

Dan Rather once said to Bill and Hillary Clinton( on camera) that they were a barometer for American morality. He also told Bill O'Reilly (which is contained in his book Who's Looking Out For You) that he believe Bill Clinton is an honest man. Now that says more about Dan Rather than it does about the Clintons.

I'm not familiar with the USA Today story. Do they have documents, too? Man, it seems as if those suckers are multiplying every minute. Now, if USA Today has documents, I'd like to see them and have them analyzed the way bloggers analyzed the CBS forgeries. Also, I see what you mean about Michael Moore -- he works for USA Today.

Excellent analysis and inte... (Below threshold)
Thomas J. Jackson:

Excellent analysis and interesting comments from your audience. When will CBS pull the plug on Rather? CBS is a disgrace to the media and gives Pravda, CNN, and the Guardian a bad name.

IMHO, the big problem with ... (Below threshold)

IMHO, the big problem with Rather's "real story" angle is that the forged memos are the only things in his story that were new. As far as I can tell, the original 60 Minutes story consisted of:

1) Bill Burkett, saying the same thing he said in 1999;

2) Some anti-Bush guys, making the point that Bush's documents say the same thing they've said for the last several years; and

3) Four new documents, all of which appear to be almost certainly fraudulent.

So Rather's right that there was more to his story than the fake documents, but without the fake documents, he couldn't even have pretended that his story was news.

Also, did anyone ever figure out why CBS bumped the story from Sunday to the next Wednesday? Putting on my tinfoil hat, were there problems with the story, and if so, what?






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