Tom Degan

Tom Degan
Goshen, New York, United States
August 16
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: TOM DEGAN is a former video artist who in 2006 became so thoroughly disgusted at the state of America's national political dialogue, he decided to take time off to become a freaking civics teacher. He was born in Goshen, NY in 1958 and, after living all over the United States and Canada, moved back there in 1992. He is a high school dropout who in 1977 received an equivalency diploma (HEY, IT'S LEGAL!) He attended SUNY in Middletown, NY and in 1986 studied journalism at the New School in New York City. He is the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and has worked as a truck driver, a radio DJ, and a metal worker... OK, he didn't ACTUALLY receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, but he DID get some kind of ribbon of sorts when he was in the Cub Scouts. He is the inventor of Cheez Whiz and lives off the royalties on the sales of that fine product. He loves children and little baby duckies. FULL DISCLOSURE: He didn't really invent Cheez Whiz. His address is: 2590 Rte 17M (PO BOX 611) Goshen, NY 10924 (845) 294-5714


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MAY 30, 2012 5:55AM

Dan Rather's Revenge

Rate: 18 Flag

by Tom Degan -


"This instrument [television] can teach, it can entertain - yes it can even inspire . But it can do so only to the degree that men and women are determined to use it toward those ends. Otherwise it's nothing more than lights and wires in a box."

-Edward R. Murrow, 28 October 1958

When I wa
s a kid, in the household I grew up in anyway, whenever a major news event would break, you involuntarily went to CBS News to find out what was happening. Back then those CBS reporters and commentators had serious gravitas - Murrow, Cronkite, Sevareid - it didn't get any better than those guys, They used to refer to the news division of CBS as "the crown jewel of the Tiffany Network". Of course those days are gone forever. As far as news and information is concerned, "CBS" might just as well stand for "Cowardly Bull Shit". Every bit of credibility they had left was forever destroyed in 2005, after they caved-in to the political pressure put upon them by Bush Mob and forced Dan Rather out the door.

Just in case it slipped your mind (These are crowded times, I know) on September 8, 2004 Rather reported on 60 Minutes that while he was in the the Air National Guard, George W. Bush went AWOL for at least a year - from 1972 until 1973. As Election Day of 2004 was approaching, the Bush campaign was desperate to change the subject. Using Karl Rove's tried-and-true strategy of attacking an opponent by going after his strengths, they a ssaulted John Kerry's military record in Viet Nam. An organization appeared overnight called the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth". They claimed that Kerry's medals for valor had been received for incidents entirely fabricated - this in spite of the fact that none of these jackasses had even served with him. Their propaganda had the desired effect. A lot of voters swallowed it whole

er or not this was the final nail in the coffin of Kerry's quest for the White House is anybody's guess. He ran a pretty stupid campaign - as had Al Gore four years previously. My opinion is that any person who doesn't have the wit to defeat a disgusting little piece of shit like George W. Bush doesn't deserve to be president.


George W. Bush did not want to go to Vietnam. I find no fault with the guy in this one (and only) respect. Had I been of draft-age at the time, I wouldn't have wanted to go to Vietnam either. In fact, I would not have gone. My options would have been sparse to be sure. My father wasn't an influential congressman who could pull some strings to get me assigned to the "champagne unit" of the state
side National Guard. I probably would have ended up expatriating to Canada. No problem. I used to live in Toronto. It's a nice place.

"Bring 'em on!"

-George W. Bush, June 2003

Junior Bush was a really lucky guy. His daddy was able to get him into the guard in spite of the fact that they already was a waiting list of several hundred people. The rich have a different set of rules to abide by in case you haven't noticed. Bush got in. He was supposed to serve as a flyer - and that's what he did. He flew the coop. He was supposed to report to Dannelly Field in Montgomery, Alabama in September 1972 but no one who was stationed there at the time has any recollection of meeting or even seeing him. Did he have pangs of conscience when he sent all those kids into Iraq in 2003? My guess is that he did not. He's always been funny that way.


Mitt Romney was a lot slicker than Bush in dodging military service during the Vietnam war. He went to France as a "Mormon missionary". Very nice.

Dan Rather chronicles the story of his departure from the Columbia Broadcasting System in his
new book, Rather Outspoken. It's next on my reading list. He has always been anathema to conservatives in spite of the fact that in his long career he never once expressed a political opinion on the air. He's seen by that crowd as the personification of those evil-doing America haters. And yet ultra-conservative, Reagan-speech-writer Peggy Noonan (who used to work with Dan at CBS) said in her memoirs that he is one of the most patriotic men she has ever known. Imagine that.

My problem  with Dan Rather is that I always thought he was a bit too stoic. That's the problem with the guys at CBS. As good as they were they (and they were as good as it gets) they were never able to let their hair down - unlike their NBC counterparts. Tom Brokaw is a really funny guy - as is Brian Williams and David Gregory. Did you ever see Gregory's impersonation of Brokaw? Uncanny and hilarious! Back in the day David Brinkley had a sense of humor that Walter Cronkite could never hope to compete with on his best days. Those NBC people are a scream. With the exception of the late, great Don Hewitt, their colleagues over at CBS are a bit stiff. And that's the way it is.

But while Dan Rather might be guilty of taking himself a little too seriously, he was damned good at what he did. That is why the failure of the suits at CBS to stand by his side in the aftermath of the Bush story is inexcusable and shameful.

There was always something about Rather. The man's essential decency and, yes, patriotism were always visible just beneath the surface. Maybe I'm deceiving myself here but I don't think I am. In the week following the attacks of September 11, 2001 he went on the David Letterman program and recited a little-known verse from "America the Beautiful". In the midst of it, he broke down and wept:

Oh beautiful, for patriot dreams
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears

It was as powerful a moment as I've ever witnessed on television and I'll never forget it. It revealed so much about the man.

In March of 1954, Ed Murrow took on Joe McCarthy and exposed him as the lying demagogue he was. In spite of the attacks that that were hurled back by McCarthy and his allies, CBS stood by their man. A half century later, Dan Rather exposed, for all the world to see, George W. Bush's desertion from the Air National Guard. This time, CBS folded like a decomposing burlap tent. Murrow's producer at the time of the McCarthy broadcast was a man named Friend Friendly. He once told an interviewer that the job of any good news organization is to tell the people, "not what they want to hear, but what they need to hear". Apparently CBS News has misplaced Friendly's memo. Pity. Their Sunday morning programing is still pretty good, but other than that I just can't take them seriously anymore.

Since I have yet to read Rather Outspoken, this should not be seen as a review of the book. Although every other book I've read by Dan Rather was an excellent read (and I've read 'em all) I imagine that this one will be no less enjoyable. I'm glad the book has come out - and I'm particularly happy that the nasty facts regarding Dubya's military "career" are now front and center again. This is as it should be. Every aspect of his life needs to be exposed - not for the sake of political comeuppance - but for the historical record. Like it or not, George W. Bush is a historical figure.

Franklin D. Roosevelt never imagined that the story of his affair with my distant cousin, Lucy Paige Mercer, would make the pages of history; nor did Jack Kenned
y ever dream that the names of any of his mistresses would make their way into the index of his biographies. Does George W. Bush seriously believe that the facts of his life will be exempt from the same kind of historical scrutiny? The arrogant little thug probably does but that doesn't matter. The biographical excavation was bound to commence sooner or later. Dan Rather's new book is a good place to start.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Good Night and Good Luck
a film by George Clooney

The story of the Edward R. Murrow's March 1954 broadcast that was the beginning of the end for Joseph McCarthy. Wasn't that a time? CBS had courage back th
en. The film is available on DVD.

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Important to remember - thanks for printing this.

I heard Dan tell the story of his sordid betrayal by CBS on a Current TV program just recently. Nice to know he has no intention of backing down on the issue.
In general, I am disgusted with the quality of news delivery on national TV--the sensationalism, the blurring of the line between fact and opinion, the obsessive focus on polls and fund raising, the pundits' egos on display. Mainstream, broadcast media will be complicit if the extreme right gains the balance of power in the USA, and imposes neo-fascism. There are exceptions, of course.
Fine piece. Thanks.
Yeah, I remember how that Bush story just seemed to vanish while the Swift Boat fabrication was in the news throughout the campaign. re Gore, regardless of your criticism of his campaign, given a fair count he actually won.
Well done. I have never really understood the whole Rather-CBS mess. I always like Rather. Still do.
Perhaps it simply slipped your mind to mention explicitly that the Rather/Mapes story in 2004, regarding W’s military service, incorporated false statements and was based on documents whose authenticity has been successfully questioned. You may choose to believe that the documents were “Faked but Accurate” as the NYT reported; however, such a position should earn you the derision now that the NYT received for it then.

Shortly after this story aired on CBS, Rather admitted to some of the false statements. After vigorously defending the story for about a week, CBS began to cave on some of its claims about the story’s credibility. Within four months, a panel within CBS, devoid of those who originally helped report and produce this story, concluded that it was based on information that was either fraudulent or could not be verified.

I can think of many ways CBS might have thrown poor Dan under the bus without admitting to all of the defects in its original broadcast. When one seeks to harm another, even in the context of saving oneself, it’s not necessary to shoot both the parties.

Two years later, in 2007, after Rather’s early resignation from CBS, he filed a $70 million civil suit for defamation against the network and its former owner. This suit was dismissed on appeal in 2009.

I’m no big fan of W’s, although he serves well as the poster boy for the campaign that our presidents should possess some intelligence. I suspect that W did not have nefarious motives in mind regarding his service record. After all, he didn’t use his military record for political gain to the degree that John Kerry did.

Instead, he was likely just scared. In that period, so was I. Most of us were.

That’s no excuse for what W may have failed to do. However, Dan didn’t have the proof to make his claims.

Dan Rather would have been far better off reporting on LBJ’s stolen valor. Even in 2004, many witnesses were still alive to testify to his lack of gallantry on that fateful night when generator problems curtailed his reconnaissance flight from Australia for FDR to 45 minutes, thereby denying the opportunity for the eight Jap Zeros to attack him.

Therefore, cousin, choose what you want to believe. However, it’s always best to maintain some connection to reality.
Bush washed out of the TANG because his drinking problem made him unable to fly his plane. The real story came out in 04, but after "Rathergate," so it was lost in the memory hole.
The wife of the pilot who replaced Drunky McFratboy tells the story:
I thought at the time that the story was suppressed because it did too much damage to a viable candidate. I think that any effort to completely destroy a candidate after the primaries are over is somewhat misguided. Everyone has faults, there can't be a candidate who is perfect, etc. It would probably be better for everyone, if we left the "politics of destruction" behind, and settled on a civilized discussion of the issues. That's why it was unacceptable then, and why everything about politics since then has been so unacceptable.
Very well done. History, at the hands of the arrogant thugs around us, will suffer for truth unless we the people keep the torch burning.
What got Danny fired was the fact that he didn't do his homework.

It took a blogger named MacDougald to point out that document format did not exist until around 1995.


However, the hard-hitting journalists at CBS and NYT, through extensive research and using their expert newshound skills... the blog.

You see, presenting a document that is easily shown to be fake, because the forger was too stupid to use an old typewritter, is considered kinda bad for a "trusted" news corporation's reputation.

Of course, Danny boy snapped it up and threw it on the air without questioning it origin.

That's kinda bad too -- it leads people to question how many times he did that in the past.

So, if you were the head of CBS and one of your guys made a fool out of your entire organization, wouldn't you, at least, be peeved?
You should do your research on Dan Rather's history of chicanery before you publish drivel like this.
Before you post snarky comments like : "Mitt Romney was a lot slicker than Bush in dodging military service during the Vietnam war. He went to France as a "Mormon missionary". Very nice."

All Mormon men are highly encouraged to be Mormon missionaries in their late teens/early 20s. It's not a strange thing as your quotation marks seem to indicate.
perdidochas - Dodging is dodging, and when you hide behind religion to do it, it makes it worse, not better. And in Romney's case, it completes a picture of general creepiness. The man makes my skin crawl, and yes, that includes his weird religion.

Good post.

Hi, I'm not familiar with your column but you are referenced by, which I read daily.

I particularly like your description of our ex-(thank god!) president: "a disgusting little piece of shit like George W. Bush."

I've always thought of him that way, and it's good to see others do too and aren't afraid to say so.

I'll continue to follow your column. I'm about the same age, but chose to be drafted when my time came. However, I know that at that time, it took a great deal of courage to resist the draft, more in fact, than I had.

Fortunately, I was not scarred by the war, although I was in Vietnam.
the peccadilloes of the elite don't matter. the character of the plebs does. america has been master of it's own destiny from inception, and has the government it deserves.
This is the way to keep history alive. If we don't remember, in day-to-day conversation, many of us will forget.

Let's not forget.

Let's remember, and give credit, honest credit, where it's due, and foist up the bad examples that litter the historical narrative that is the Wrong Side Of History, and bring them into the light, where they can squirm.
2 things to consider:

1. Bush was/is a Junkie/Drunk. There's no other way a congressman's son gets out scott free, they couldn't wait to get rid of him before he started wrecking millions of dollars of planes. Here's a covered up and little know, for, gee, some reason, fact- who was with Bush the Lesser when he got his DUI? Who? Oh yeah, it was John Lloyd the tennis player- and why did Chrissie Evert divorce Mr. Lloyd? BECAUSE OF HIS MASSIVE COCAINE PROBLEM!!!

Now, if you know drunks who also hoover blow, you know damn well why they were together that night ... and if you don't believe that then you obviously weren't around in the 70s or if you were didn't go out at night.

2. For all of his old-schoolness, it was, as the world often is pretty strange really, Rather's own good work at 60 Minutes that ended up ruining the news business by becoming the #1 show back in the day and making news a money maker on TV- in a way he was a suicide.