EDITOR’S NOTE: National Review Online is instituting a series of exclusive contributions from the most eminent figures of our age. Drawn from all the proverbial walks of life–even your own!–our contributors will reveal themselves as never before to you. The rich, the powerful, the influential, the famous, the really smart, the vulgar…they will all be here only at National Review Online. Celebrities, authors, journalists, TV stars, politicians, international statesmen, top CEOs, rock idols, will unbutton themselves solely for your pleasure. Imaginatively invented and edited by Alexander Rose, It’s All About Me’s contributors represent the grand comedy and faintly depressing tragedy that is American life as we know it.
Our first contributor has been in the news a lot recently. Or should I say, he has been the news for 40 years. But he’s no has-been. You’ve watched him, you’ve laughed with him, you’re laughing at him, it’s CBS current-affairs supremo Dan Rather, who tells NRO how he lives with himself.
‐As the world’s hardest-working journalist, I am often approached in the street by fans demanding to know how frequently I’m on CBS–though they often confuse me with Kenneth Anger, who Lesley Stahl once told me I resembled! “Kenneth, what is the frequency?”, they ask, politely but firmly, before pummeling me. Well, to use one of my pithiest down-home Ratherisms, you’re seeing me more often these days than a Bush-voting southerner is hurricanes!
‐If you watch CBS Evening News, as many of America’s seniors do, you’ll know that some partisan “bloggers”–Republicans too lazy to get out of bed in the morning, I think!–are casting doubt on the veracity of documents dating from early 2004 that conclusively prove that George Bush is not fit to be president of the United States, unlike John Kerry. For these people, I have one simple, direct question that you can stick in your own Memo to File: Do you have any idea of how important I am?
‐I am a world-respected reporter who bases his reporting on unimpeachable sources and anonymous tips, not like that dilettante Cronkite. I report. I report the decisive facts. I report, and I decide the facts. No opinion. Just pure, unfiltered, substantive, fair and accurate facticitude, as we used to say at Sam Houston State Teachers College, my alma mater. As my good friend and fellow “Sam Houstonian,” James Carville, remarked over lunch at the Mile Eye Club when the partisan political ideological forces at the Washington Post and ABC started spreading their lies, the sacred institution of nightly network news is the mainstay of our democracy, and has been since the Louisiana Purchase. That’s why I am called an anchor–I provide Americans with the kind of weighty news bogged down in silt and covered with barnacles they’re crying out for in this information-starved age. In other words, presenting 60 Minutes II is a hallowed trust, a boon to mankind. I am that trusting boon. “Bias” is simply not in my vocabulary. And neither is “Chandra Levy,” come to think of it.
‐If I were not television’s most respected newsman, then why is it that I am repeatedly asked by Les Moonves to cover the world’s most dangerous assignments? One week, I’m braving the fiery temper of Hurricane Ivan by myself in a rowboat off Cuba; the next, I’m literally “on-air” when I fly–with a monkey test-pilot at the controls, if you can believe that!–the Air Force’s untried, experimental nuclear-fission jetplane somewhere over the South Pacific. Or what about the time Andrew Heyward said at the morning conference, after I’d proposed doing an in-depth, challenging story about subversive CIA operations in Western Samoa in 1978, that he wished I’d move there! And everyone else at the table agreed! I’m sorry, pajama-clad partisans, but no other anchor could demand–and receive–so much time off from appearing on CBS network affiliates to get the kind of in-depth, challenging stories I’m renowned for.
‐Here’s another tough question–the kind for which I’m justly renowned. How is it, if my critics are right to say that “Rather has lost it” or that “CBS stands for Counterfeit Bush Scandal,” that I have so many explosive scoops in the pipeline? I don’t want to spill any trade secrets, of course, but I’m working on two–beat that, Shafer, you loser–blockbuster segments for 60 Minutes II! Tomorrow, I’m flying to Abilene to liaise with an unimpeachable source who’s providing me with copies of copies of diaries written by Adolf Hitler between 1906 and 1947. These will finally prove to the world that this gadabout housepainter refused to take a medical exam before entering the Imperial German army in 1914, so rendering him unfit to command Oberkommando der Wehrmacht come 1939. I’ve even arranged with world-renowned historian Hugh Trevor-Roper to consult them with me, though he hasn’t returned my calls. But my producer assures me that Professor Michael Bellsiles, universally regarded as an expert forensic-document examiner in the groves of academe, will be there to authenticate them. After that, I’ll be investigating the most controversial story of my career: I can’t say much now, but a secret text, typed on a superscript-equipped 1897 model IBM Selectric, called The Protocols of the Elders of Zion has been provided for my eyes only by an unimpeachable and anonymous source codenamed DAVID IRVING. Its conclusions are going to rock the world. No longer will America believe that Lord Rothschild did not use his family’s influence to pull a few strings when he financed the Suez Canal. A few random “bloggers” and the American public as a whole will refuse to believe me, but CBS stands by the accuracy of its story for the moment. Personally, I think the lack of definitive evidence disproving the book’s authenticity speaks for itself. That is the real story here.