[The Thornburgh-Boccardi panel] concluded that whatever happened and whatever you thought about it, it was not motivated by political bias and they said that, although they had four months and millions of dollars, they could not demonstrate the documents were not authentic, that they were forgeries. They said they couldn't make that conclusion.
As I've said from the beginning, five years from now this will be the one-sentence summary of the CBS News scandal. Thornburgh and Boccardi performed a whitewash for CBS.
In other Rather news, Ken Auletta's New Yorker profile is out (but not online) and it's a Fergusonian masterpiece. It is such fine work that you can't tell if it's a hit or a puff. That's great writing. Some of the highlights:
* "A Royal typewriter dominates his desk, though he never uses it. It is there, he said, because 'it reminds me of what I aspire to be--I want to be a great reporter.'"
* "A meteorological sign for hurricanes is woven into the left forearm of many of Rather's shirts; Rather got his start at CBS after covering Hurricane Carla, in September of 1961."
In one fabulous passage, Rather brings Auletta to the Evening News "fishbowl" early in the morning and tries to appear as though he's involved in the nitty-gritty of production (something Auletta tells us isn't actually true). The phone in the room keeps ringing and Rather keeps lunging for it, answering it with "Rather" and "Evening News. Rather." The CBS correspondents on the other end of the line reply with a surprised, Who's this?
The portrait Auletta paints of Rather is not completely unsympathetic, but it is one of amazing, sky-scraping vanity. It is a vanity so complete and all-consuming that Rather believes his own schtick with an earnestness that is, at times, even a little winning.
If nothing else, Auletta's article deepened my appreciation for Michael Mann's The Insider. Christopher Plummer's performance as Mike Wallace looked good on the screen. But you can only grasp its true brilliance by seeing what these TV people are like in real life.