DALLAS -- It seems almost quaint to mention today, in the era of the “birther’’ movement, but we used to debate where presidential candidates were during the Vietnam War, not where they were born.
Just eight years ago, this line of inquiry produced two spectacular efforts: Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and "Rathergate.''
It’s hard to argue the significance of the Swift Boat movement. But former CBS newsman Dan Rather is still fighting history’s judgment on his botched investigation of former President George W. Bush’s service in the Texas Air National Guard. A scathing independent report chronicled a long list of journalistic and ethical missteps.
But now Rather is pressing his case in a lengthy interview in the May issue of Texas Monthly magazine.
The thrust of Rather’s news report, for which he later issued an on-air apology, was that Bush got preferential treatment to get into the National Guard shortly before his college deferment for the draft was set to expire.
The CBS report was based largely on memos whose authenticity could not be completely verified. In the lengthy Texas Monthly interview, Rather expresses belief that someday conclusive evidence will show he was right.
Gauging initial reactions, it seems like a hard sell. (Full disclosure: CBS producer Mary Mapes, who was fired after the report aired, is married to a former colleague of mine and they were social acquaintances.)
From the magazine: “Rather says he remains “optimistic” that somebody, somewhere, will one day come forward and reveal the truth of what happened. “They’re out there,” he says. “Let’s set the record straight.’’
Having had his lawsuit against CBS thrown out of court several years ago, Rather believes his soon-to-be released memoir, Rather Outspoken, will set the record straight.
For a refresher on the entire issue, read the Washington Post clips here.
Lori Stahl is a Texas journalist who covers politics. Follow her on Twitter @LoriStahl.