As promised, from last night’s Larry King. On this lawsuit may depend the future of independent journalism, he suggests, a neat trick for a guy who spent 44 years at the desk for the most famous corporate news outfit in America. It’s not that he passed off garbage documents as authentic — no one’s proved that they’re garbage, Mr. Independent falsely reminds us — it’s that his mindless corporate masters wanted to “appeal to the Bush White House,” in King’s words, by getting rid of him. Why they would want to do that isn’t explained but I can’t wait for the trial to find out. Blame the company for his on-air apology during the scandal too: he says he takes responsibility for it but then dismisses it as something he didn’t believe in and didn’t want to do but did anyway to show he was a team player at CBS. That darned corporation again. Always making it hard for those who are “big on personal responsibility.”

If he wants to see independent journalism at work, wait until one of CBS’s corporate drone lawyers gets him on the stand and hands him Charles Johnson’s memo overlay as Exhibit 1. What a goof it’ll be to see points first made and supported by bloggers being used by CBS against Dan Rather. I leave you with the words of his old pal, the fair and balanced Mary Mapes, showing off the skills that paid CBS’s bills for the benefit of the one blog audience which, more than any other, really appreciates people like her and Document Dan.

In September 2004, anyone who had the audacity to even ask impertinent questions about the president was certain to be figuratively kicked in the head by the usual suspects.

What was different in our case was the brand new and bruising power of the conservative blogosphere, particularly the extremists among them. They formed a tightly knit community of keyboard assault artists who saw themselves as avenging angels of the right, determined to root out and decimate anything they believed to be disruptive to their worldview…

Instantly, the far right blogosphere bully boys pronounced themselves experts on document analysis, and began attacking the form and font in the memos. They screamed objections that ultimately proved to have no basis in fact. But they captured the argument. They dominated the discussion by churning out gigabytes of mind-numbing internet dissertations about the typeface in the memos, focusing on the curl at the end of the “a,” the dip on the top of the “t,” the spacing, the superscript, which typewriters were used in the military in 1972.

Follow the link and read at least the end so that you’ll appreciate how Bishop Rather helped “guide the country” through its crises from his perch in the sacred, magical newsroom.

Update: Read Kurtz’s interview with him this morning. The skepticism practically takes on three-dimensional form.

Tags: White House