Um, Dan, the story was denied the night it aired, you idiot. This cat has to be suffering dementia by this point. He can’t possibly be lucid and this deep in denial still, can he?
Eight years later, Bush is back in Texas, keeping a low profile and building his presidential library. Rather is still a newsman, hosting a program called Dan Rather Reports on HDNet, a niche cable and satellite channel. But he is also a man who cannot stop reliving his worst moment. This month he will publish Rather Outspoken: My Life in News, his fourth memoir but the first since his downfall. Not surprisingly, he uses the book to defend the details of his report, sharpening his ax for Bush, as well as former colleagues at CBS and its parent company at the time, Viacom, whom Rather believes caved under political pressure from the Bush White House.
“The story we reported has never been denied by George W. Bush, by anyone in his close circles, including his family,” says Rather. “They have never denied the bulwark of the story, the spine of the story, the thrust of the story.” (In fact, Bush officials have indeed denied it, repeatedly. In a conversation I had with former White House director of communications Dan Bartlett in 2007, he told me, “We believe the story is inaccurate, both the general thrust of it and the questionable sources they used.”)
Rather tried making his case in a 2007 lawsuit against his former bosses, but it was thrown out of court two years later. Nonetheless, he remains convinced that he did nothing wrong. “I believed at the time that the documents were genuine,” Rather says, “and I’ve never ceased believing that they are genuine.”
Just because you believe something doesn’t make it true.
This is nearly impossible to know. The documents were Xerox copies, which in forensics is a dead end—nothing can be proved, or disproved, without an original. Since the report, Rather has hired lawyers and private investigators to get to the bottom of the mystery, to no avail. Strangely, he has made only one attempt to contact the man who initially gave the documents to CBS, the former Guardsman and West Texas rancher Bill Burkett, who, after initially lying about where he got them, told a dubious tale of receiving them from shadowy characters at a cattle show in Houston—and then went stone silent. Burkett refused to talk to Rather.
This is from a lengthy feature in Texas Monthly, with many of the involved players in the TANG memos long dead and more of the back story on George W. Bush’s admittance Texas Air National Guard. Guess this dead horse needs another beating. Really can’t wait until Rather’s book is released and this nonsense gets more coverage.