Thursday, March 10, 2005

Mike Walker (National Enquirerer) sends Danny off with a bang

Over on NRO they have a Q&A about Danny Boy. I hate to write about him, but it's relief that I won't be force fed the Rather tireing stuff anymore.

Mike Walker, who describes Rather’s enthusiastic loyalty to those damn National Guard documents as “hotter than a rooster on Viagra,” answered some questions from NRO Editor Kathryn Jean Lopez to commemorate Dan Rather’s step down from the CBS anchor chair today.

National Review Online: Was “Memogate” a fluke in Dan Rather’s career? Or could a keen observer have seen it coming?

Walker: Even a not-so-keen observer could have seen it coming. When Dan was a fledgling White House reporter, it was noted in the book The Boys On the Bus that “Rather would go with an item even if he didn’t have it completely nailed down with verifiable facts. If a rumor sounded solid to him…he would let it rip. The other White House reporters hated Rather for this.” Like the time he reported, erroneously that J. Edgar Hoover had stepped down as FBI director. Not long after that gaffe, he again reported that Hoover had decamped. Again he was wrong. He was obsessed with the conviction, again erroneously, that deceased CIA director William Casey was still alive and hidden away somewhere. He spewed the f-word on camera at a TV reporter who angered him. And he admitted to persuading a Houston police officer to inject him with heroin — in the belief it would make him a better reporter. The first time CBS considered firing him was when he insulted President Nixon on national TV. He followed that with his outrageous on-air badgering of then-Vice President George H. W. Bush.
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NRO: What lessons could the CBS news division learn from The National Enquirer?

Walker: Stop ignoring the most basic rules of journalism. Don’t try to authenticate copies of documents. It’s impossible. You need originals. And stop dealing with transparent wackos who have axes to grind — a la that loopy Texas Bush-hater and Texas Air National Guard malcontent. Above all, when a source tells you he had documents from a guy, call the guy and ask him if that’s true. A high-school journalist wouldn’t be suckered by your phony story.
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NRO: You recount a weird incident at a presidential press conference in 1974. What the heck was Rather up to with Nixon that day? And how did he manage not to get fired?

Walker: President Nixon had just recognized an ABC reporter at a 1974 press conference, but the guy barely got his mouth open before Rather butted in and boomed: “Thank you, Mr. President. Dan Rather of CBS News. Mr. President … with respect.” Reporters booed Rather’s brazen interruption. Nixon said jokingly, “Are you running for something?” Snapped Rather, “No, Mr. President, are you?” The crowd gasped. Rather’s crack was beyond rude, it was downright pugnacious, disrespectful, and flat-out dumb. No one knows what was percolating through Dan’s lizard brain that fateful day, but after their White House correspondent sassed the president, CBS execs asked, “Should we fire the SOB?” NBC’s Tom Brokaw claims CBS considered hiring him to replace Rather. But Dan survived. He was all CBS had to replace Walter Cronkite.

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