Bill O'Reilly and Bernard Goldberg sat down to deliberately trash veteran newsman Dan Rather last night. Rather has a long, distinguished career in journalism but ever since he dared to report that George W. Bush went AWOL during his time in the Texas Air National Guard, he's been a GOP Fox News pariah. Even if you believe (which I do not, by the way) that Rather got his AWOL story wrong, compare the treatment of him to Andrew Breitbart and his series of discredited reports.
The gist of O'Reilly's beef last night seemed to be that Rather had had the temerity to cancel an interview on The Factor despite appearing on Good Morning America to defend his reporting. “We reported a true story,” Rather was seen saying in a clip, and had faced a “propaganda barrage to discredit it.”
The childish attacks by O'Reilly and Goldberg could only have confirmed to Rather that he made the right decision, assuming he caught the segment. Goldberg said, “I know it doesn't sound logical, but I think he's more comfortable with sitting down with a murderer like Saddam Hussein than he is... sitting down with you.”
“We were going to ambush him, like we did with our pal Bill Moyers, but – uh – we decided not to do it,” O'Reilly boasted, citing Rather's age as the only factor. Gee, that's big of you O'Reilly.
But that didn't mean either he or Goldberg were through demeaning Rather.
Noting that he had spent several millions of dollars on his case against CBS, which Rather lost, Goldberg said, “Here's a man who covered every major story since the assassination of JFK, he has put his life in danger more than a few times and I think he's painfully aware of the fact that someday, down the road, when somebody writes the obit for Dan Rather, in the first paragraph, it's gonna contain the words either 'memogate' or 'Rathergate' and I think that hurts him terribly.”
“But he could have rehabbed it here,” O'Reilly said. Oh, sure he could have. Assuming he wasn't sandbagged by anyone and assuming O'Reilly didn't slyly put on people before and/or after Rather – without giving him a chance to respond to their “rebuttal” of anything he said.
“He has become obsessed with this, spending all the money that he spent and all that. He's like Captain Ahab... He just can't let this one go,” Goldberg sneered.