A new movie is trying to exonerate Dan Rather, whom CBS fired in 2004 for slandering George W. Bush.
So you’re an art connoisseur who likes the works of Gilbert Stuart, the early American artist famous for his portraits of George Washington. Someone wants to sell you an original Stuart portrait of Washington he claims he found in someone’s attic. It looks good enough—old canvas, faded oils, facial resemblance—but there is one little problem.
Washington is wearing a digital wristwatch.
Do you buy it? If you’re Mary Mapes or Dan Rather, late of CBS News, you probably do, because you’ve done it before. Sure, you have someone check it, such as your brother-in-law and your drinking buddy, Ralph. They say it looks good to them, so you buy it.
In the early summer of 2004, months before Dan Rather’s day of infamy in September, I stumbled onto a website called “The AWOL Project,” a bloviated screed against President George W. Bush and his Air National Guard service. It got my attention because, from 1970 to 1974, I was a pilot in the same Texas Air Guard unit as Bush. Even had the same squadron commander, the famous Jerry Killian. So I read it. With 33 years of service in the Air Guard, I think I knew a little bit about its workings.
The blogger who created the website, a Democrat activist from Philadelphia named Paul Lukasiak, did a yeoman’s job in assembling released Bush Air Force records and relevant Air Force regulations, but then he distorted and dissembled them to reach egregiously wrong conclusions to incriminate Bush.
It was like examining the Old Testament in great detail and then concluding that Moses was an Egyptian who helped the Pharaoh cast the Jews into barren lands in some ancient holocaust.
Then, in perusing Lukasiak’s work that summer, I found George Washington’s wristwatch.
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