RATHERGATE has come and gone. As you may recall, 60 Minutes II did a story on George Bush’s Texas Air Guard career based upon documents by a supervising officer ( long since deceased) suggesting that George was pulling a fast one and he, the officer, was getting some heat to let it go.
Well the blogosphere quickly concluded that the documents surely were not typed in 1972 for a number of good reasons. There was a huge firestorm in the blogosphere (which I was following avidly) that resulted a few days later in Dan Rather publicly standing by the suspect documents. Then CBS decided they would stonewall the ongoing furor hoping it would die down. It did not, it got worse and finally even mainstream media was adding their voice that the documents were not what they purported to be. Finally CBS and Dan Rather were forced to acknowledge there were problems with the documents and they would thoroughly investigate the issues. Dan, however, still stood by the documents.
Because of this boondoggle, Dan retired some months earlier than he had intended.
For Dan Rather to have survived the 60 Minutes II piece using false documents, he only had to do one thing. He had to acknowledge, much earlier than he did, that there were real problems with the docs and he and CBS may have been wrong. He just had to acknowledge THE POSSIBILITY of error. But he didn’t want to do that, he thought he didn’t really have to and he was wrong.
LESSON: Acknowledging one’s sins QUICKLY is always the best way to go. I, like most, will not acknowledge wrongs/sins if no one has suggested their existence. But I have learned that to “fess up” when you’re caught and “fess up quickly” is truly the way to go. You’re embarrassed for a bit, but once you hold up your hand and acknowledge, “I was wrong,” people tend to let you off the hook. But if you insist on stonewalling on your sins, then people cannot forgive you and cannot let the matter drop.
Dan would still be on TV if he hadn’t insisted on stonewalling.