Two weeks after everyone in the world with more than two brain cells to rub together figured out that memos purportedly authored by Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian that portrayed then 1st Lt. George Bush in an unflattering light were false, Dan Rather now thinks so too. What took him so long to recognize what most of the world knew almost at once? Much has been written on that question and much more will be written over the next few weeks, but I suspect the reasons boil down to a single root cause.
The memos confirmed what he wanted to believe and what he had been searching for for almost five years. Can you imagine looking for something with feverish intensity for half a decade and then have it fall into your hands? Your eyes would light up, your heart would pound, you would begin to sweat, perhaps to cry. Most importantly, you would probably, in your jubilation and haste to spread the news, forget to ask critical questions that a more dispassionate observer would ask immediately. Questions like: hey, this looks like it was produced on a word processor. Did they have word processors in 1972?
Dan Rather’s quest was motivated by longstanding animus for George Bush pure and simple. Does he dislike him as a man or just his political views? I’m sure I don’t know, but I believe the dislike is obvious and its results have been disastrous both for CBS and Dan Rather.