A fellow in Venezuela, thought to be dead after an accident, woke up screaming the other day when the autopsy knife made an initial incision into his face. And there is nothing more disturbing at an Irish wake than to turn around and see the decedent sitting up in the casket in an alcoholic haze, belting out Danny Boy along with the ne’er-do-well cousins. Once a chap has checked out, it is bloody bad form to suddenly check in.
But will Dan Rather be bound by such common sense? Oh, no. The stubborn old coot insists on attempting resurrection by insurrection, suing the network for all its net worth; well, 70 mil, anyway. He was the victim of an injustice, you see, and that raised his hackles. Yes, he has been seething. Seething quietly, doing a slow burn, like a T-bone on a George Foreman. Who do these management suits think they are? A 48 Short and a 44 Extra-Long called him into the office, told him it is time for the CBS retirement plan, “Sixty Minutes.” Turns out it’s not even sixty, after you subtract the commercials. Boy, could he hear that clock ticking loudly in his ear.
A patsy, that’s what they tried to make him, a patsy. Who did they think they were dealing with, some kind of innocent who doesn’t know the ropes, who will give up his fringe benefits with no strings attached? Hoo no, those fellers have another think comin’. Don’t they know he is Dan the Man, the guy who paid off the makeup girl to hide Cronkite’s teeth that one night? The old guy was retired to that island in Massachusetts before Martha planted her first grape.
So they think they can write him off just like that, eh? Well, he’ll show those guys the only hill he is over is Bunker, and he can see the whites of their eyes big as snowballs. Those boys are going down for the count and staying down, like George Foreman on a T-bone. He was up here writing copy before their Mama ever picked her prom dress. He already forgot more about this business than those guys ever learned in their fancy-pants journalism school. Well, they’ll need those pants, won’t they, because they are going to be losing their shirt.
And was any of it his fault? Gimme a break. He ran a tight ship in his newsroom, you know, so tight you could travel four knots on a tri-sail. None of this vacuous blather you see now in these amateur hour productions, no no no, we are talking professional here. Pro is the word. In his day, a fact checker checked a fact until it squeaked. Accuracy was the watchword. People knew they could watch CBS and get news the old-fashioned way. Well, not as opposed to modern. Just as opposed to this sloppy nouveau arty skin-deep fashion-plate for-your-eyes-only puppet show that passes for network news in this day and age. Humph!
Well, he’ll show them, he sure will. Seventy mil worth of a lesson. They’ll think twice before they take on a legend again. Not that it’s his place to call himself a legend. Much too modest for that. It’s not about him, oh no. News is much bigger than little old Dan. It is an institution, a centerpiece of our democracy, a symbol of our freedom, something sacred, not to be reduced by Rush Limbaugh types to specious formulas designed to protect the military-industrial complex.
No sirree, Bob, their crass, boorish behavior will not stand. They will pony up, my friends, with some bucks in the Bronx. No way are they shelling out forty mil to a wannabe rancher like Imus and then walking away from Dan without losing some paint off their bumper. We have a way of doing things back in Texas, and we don’t call a job done until it is well and truly done, like a poached egg on a branding iron. Oh, yes, they said they have to protect the CBS brand; well, it is time they get the DR brand right there on their big fat wallets.
Still, that isn’t the part that burns him the most. Money is just money, after all, cabbage to get you through a patch. What it is is the principle of the thing. Here he was, Dan Rather, a living legend, with a paper about that Bush kid’s National Guard service or lack thereof, and suddenly he had to defer to a bunch of computer geeks in their pajamas. Which, come to think of it, is what he is wearing. Well, forget that nap, it is time now to get redressed.
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