Sunday, November 4, 2007

Dan Rather, Vancouver & Dickens

Disgraced American journalist Dan Rather is in Vancouver, capitalising on the media appeal of the Olympic Games presumably in an attempt to rebuild his reputation, and is filming a news story on the downtown East side, which he describes with the term "Dickensian."

Interesting in Rather's disgrace was that his was the first case of investigatory journalism into corruption done, not by the corporate media, but by bloggers. Briefly, CBS News ran a story in 2004 by Dan Rather in which he claimed to have documents proving that the President of the U.S., George W. Bush, then up for re-election, had evaded service during the Vietnam War. As part of the story, CBS News put PDF copies of the putative documents on their website.

Directly, individual bloggers -- who were later described as 'an army of Davids -- began investigating the claims, and almost immediately discovered that the documents, which were presented as having been written in 1972, were actually done on Microsoft Word. This, of course, is like finding the nuclear submarine which won the Battle of Trafalgar.

In this case, Wikipedia is a suitable place to read a summation (the article is labelled "Rather-gate.") Most astonishing, in my view, and a real-life example of degeneracy, is the closing paragraph of the article which quotes Dan Rather himself, saying, first, that he stands by the fraudulent documents "because they haven't been proven false," and, second, (in a now infamous formulation) that the documents are "fake but accurate."

Count the degeneracies .....

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