that fear that keeps journalists from asking the
toughest of the tough questions," the aging American
journalist told the British television audience.
June 2002, Dan Rather looked old, defeated, making
a confession he dare not speak on American TV
about the deadly censorship -- and self-censorship
-- which had seized US newsrooms. After September
11, news on the US tube was bound and gagged.
Any reporter who stepped out of line, he said,
would be professionally lynched as un-American.
an obscene comparison," he said, "but there was
a time in South Africa when people would put flaming
tires around people's necks if they dissented.
In some ways, the fear is that you will be necklaced
here. You will have a flaming tire of lack of
patriotism put around your neck." No US reporter
who values his neck or career will "bore in on
the tough questions."
said all these things to a British audience. However,
back in the USA, he smothered his conscience and
told his TV audience: "George Bush is the President.
He makes the decisions. He wants me to line up,
just tell me where."
the war in Vietnam, Dan's predecessor at CBS,
Walter Cronkite, asked some pretty hard questions
about Nixon's handling of the war in Vietnam.
Today, our sons and daughters are dying in Bush
wars. But, unlike Cronkite, Dan could not, would
not, question George Bush, Top Gun Fighter Pilot,
Our Maximum Beloved Leader in the war on terror.
the British broadcast, without his network minders
snooping, you could see Dan seething and deeply
unhappy with himself for playing the game.
is going on," he said, "I'm sorry to say, is a
belief that the public doesn't need to know --
limiting access, limiting information to cover
the backsides of those who are in charge of the
war. It's extremely dangerous and cannot and should
not be accepted, and I'm sorry to say that up
to and including this moment of this interview,
that overwhelmingly it has been accepted by the
American people. And the current Administration
revels in that, they relish and take refuge in
words had a poignant personal ring for me. He
was speaking on Newsnight, BBC's nightly current
affairs program, which broadcasts my own reports.
I do not report for BBC, despite its stature,
by choice. The truth is, if I want to put a hard,
investigative report about the USA on the nightly
news, I have to broadcast it in exile, from London.
For Americans my broadcasts are stopped at an
electronic Berlin wall.
Dan is in hot water for a report my own investigative
team put in Britain's Guardian papers and on BBC
TV years ago. Way back in 1999, I wrote that former
Texas Lt. Governor Ben Barnes had put in the fix
for little George Bush to get out of 'Nam and
into the Air Guard.
is hot news this month in the USA is a five-year-old
story to the rest of the world. And you still
wouldn't see it in the USA except that Dan Rather,
with a 60 Minutes producer, finally got fed up
and ready to step out of line. And, as Dan predicted,
he stuck out his neck and got it chopped off.
Rather's report accurate? Is George W. Bush a
war hero or a privileged little Shirker-in-Chief?
Today I saw a goofy two page spread in the Washington
Post about a typewriter used to write a memo with
no significance to the draft-dodge story. What
I haven't read about in my own country's media
is about two crucial documents supporting the
BBC/CBS story. The first is Barnes' signed and
sworn affidavit to a Texas Court, from 1999, in
which he testifies to the Air Guard fix -- which
Texas Governor George W. Bush, given the opportunity,
declined to challenge.
there is a second document, from the files of
US Justice Department, again confirming the story
of the fix to keep George's white bottom out of
Vietnam. That document, shown last year in the
BBC television documentary, "Bush Family Fortunes,"
correctly identifies Barnes as the bag man even
before his 1999 confession.
BBC, we also obtained a statement from the man
who made the call to the Air Guard general on
behalf of Bush at Barnes' request. Want to see
the document? I've posted it at: http://www.gregpalast.com/ulf/documents/draftdodgeblanked.jpg
is not a story about Dan Rather. The white millionaire
celebrity can defend himself without my help.
This is really a story about fear, the fear that
stops other reporters in the US from following
the evidence about this Administration to where
it leads. American news guys and news gals, practicing
their smiles, adjusting their hairspray levels,
bleaching their teeth and performing all the other
activities that are at the heart of US TV journalism,
will look to the treatment of Dan Rather and say,
"Not me, babe." No questions will be asked, as
Dan predicted, lest they risk necklacing and their
careers as news actors burnt to death.
Family Fortunes," the one-hour documentary taken
from Greg Palast's BBC investigative reports,
including the story of George Bush and Texas Air
Guard, can be viewed, in part, at http://www.gregpalast.com/bff-dvd.htm
Posted: September 20, 2004