The Magazine

Jimmy Carter, Phony Hate Crimes, Etc.

From the Scrapbook.

Oct 22, 2007, Vol. 13, No. 06
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This is not the first, nor will it be the last, time that THE SCRAPBOOK is obliged to point out that some of the greatest Democratic war presidents in history--James Madison, James Knox Polk, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt--could also be described as "militant[s] who avoided any service of [their] own in the military," and that Carter's point is an irrelevancy.

When he ran for president, it did not go unnoticed among some veterans of the Second World War that Pearl Harbor had been attacked when Jimmy Carter was in his 18th year, and that he spent the duration of the conflict in safe harbor at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, graduating in 1946, a full year after the fighting had ended. That, too, was an irrelevancy. Carter wasn't fit to be commander in chief, but his military record had nothing to do with it.

Good Night, Dan, and Good Luck

Howard Kurtz's new book Reality Show is mostly about the anointing of the latest crop of network news anchors, Brian Williams, Charlie Gibson, and Katie Couric. But in the course of this tale, the Washington Post's media reporter also gives us great backstory on our favorite journalistic heel, ex-CBS anchorman Dan Rather.

Much of the Rather material is a rehash of the Thornburgh-Boccardi report commissioned by CBS to limit the damage from its use of a forged document in a broadcast on George W. Bush's National Guard service. But Kurtz has two fresh tidbits. The first is that on the night before the Texas Air National Guard story was scheduled to run, Rather was told that the network wasn't promoting the story because there was still a chance it might be held. In a fit of pique, he warned the 60 Minutes Wednesday executive producer that if the segment didn't air, he'd leak one of the documents from the piece to the New York Times.

The second gem Kurtz unearths is a story about Rather in his waning days at CBS. Feeling beset by enemies on all sides, Rather looked for solace wherever he could find it. Kurtz reports, "He had been to see Good Night and Good Luck, the George Clooney film about [heroic anchorman Edward] Murrow, five times, sometimes sitting in the darkened theater by himself."