DAN RATHER STEPPING DOWN
For as long as I can remember, he seemed half nuts. A few years back I used to watch his news broadcast regularly; it was in a period when he was obsessed with, transfixed by, El Niño. When he had a non-weather story, he'd introduce it by saying, "We're going to bring you a hard news look at" whatever the subject was -- big emphasis on "hard news." It was weird. And the news wasn't always "hard" -- sometimes it was the same old TV pseudo-news, oversold in this eccentric way.
That's how I'll remember Dan Rather.
Dan Rather was flaky when he tried to undermine George W. Bush's credibility with documents any young intern in his office could have spotted as, at the very least, questionable. Dan Rather was flaky when he said,
"George Bush is the president. He makes the decisions, and, you know, it's just one American, wherever he wants me to line up, just tell me where. And he'll make the call."
"If he needs me in uniform, tell me when and where--I'm there."
Dan Rather was flaky when he broadcast fake tapes provided by a gung-ho right-wing bounty hunter.
Ideologue? Hell no -- Dan Rather's flakiness crossed ideological lines.
And, of course, Dan Rather was flaky when he began closing his show with the word "Courage," flaky when he claimed to have been attacked by men saying, "Kenneth, what is the frequency?," flaky when he joined R.E.M. in a performance of "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?" on David Letterman's show.
A few more, from Slate:
... In 1981, Rather decided that he couldn't occupy Walter Cronkite's chair, so for his first Evening News broadcast he read the headlines while crouching behind the desk....
Once, during a tense moment at the network, he lectured his colleagues, "I only have one thing to say to all of you people. Syracuse, 413." Producers were baffled. Only later did they realize that Rather kept a copy of Sir Edward Creasy's Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World on his desk -- Syracuse, 413 B.C., was in Chapter 2.
Dan Rather was not a hero to any liberal or leftist I know. Only right-wingers think he was. They're deliriously happy. We're not even mildly upset.