I’m not in a place to judge the veracity of Dan Rather’s reporting on Bush’s National Guard service, but as usual, Sidney Blumenthal has done an extraordinary job sequencing the bits and pieces of the Rather CBS story and suggests that Rather’s $70 million lawsuit against CBS will animate some much needed truth-telling about Bush’s slippery story on military service.
If the court accepts [Rather’s] suit, however, launching the adjudication of legal issues such as breach of fiduciary duty and tortious interference with contract, it will set in motion an inexorable mechanism that will grind out answers to other questions as well. Then Rather’s suit will become an extraordinary commission of inquiry into a major news organization’s intimidation, complicity and corruption under the Bush administration. No congressional committee would be able to penetrate into the sanctum of any news organization to divulge its inner workings. But intent on vindicating his reputation, capable of financing an expensive legal challenge, and armed with the power of subpoena, Rather will charge his attorneys to interrogate news executives and perhaps administration officials under oath on a secret and sordid chapter of the Bush presidency.
In making his case, Rather will certainly establish beyond reasonable doubt that George W. Bush never completed his required service in the Texas Air National Guard. Moreover, Rather’s suit will seek to demonstrate that the documents used in his “60 Minutes II” piece were not inauthentic and that he and his producers acted responsibly in presenting them and the information they contained — and that that information is true. Indeed, no credible source has refuted the essential facts of the story.
Most cases of this sort are usually settled before discovery. But Rather has made plain that he is uninterested in a cash settlement. He has filed his suit precisely to be able to take depositions.
A principled stand to get at the truth is what we need, and if this is what Dan Rather is up to then all the better.
— Steve Clemons