Josh Marshall, about to be wed, is making the biggest mistake of his life: entrusting TPM to me for the next couple of days. Iâll try to keep the damage to a respectable minimum, since Iâm also a regular reader, but no guarantees about the furniture.
As a humor-type person, I reserve the right to bring the conversation right down to the trivial and superficial, where American media really dwell. And thatâs where weâll start. Having said my own farewell to Dan Rather with personally gathered highlights of his career here, here, here, here, and here, I hope at least some listeners gathered that the noise about his âbiasâ is so damned irrelevant to understanding what was wrong, not just at the end but straight on through. About half of it was Dan himself, as the clips may show (another one, really amazing, airs this Sunday), but the other half is the nature of the network anchor job itself: sitting in New York reading prompter and, as Ken Auletta showed in his recent profile, assuming the Managing Editor mantle for important visitors, then occasionally parachuting into a news hotspot for, at most, 24 hours of finding out the answer to the only question they have time to ask: whatâs the mood here?
All that being said, Iâm amazed that a salient fact about Danâs last few years escaped notice during last weekâs barrage of Rathermania and Ratherphobia. Namely, what other distinguished personage of such lengthy service in the public eye suddenly decides, in the last few years of his career, to change the side of his head on which he parts his hair? That, my friends, is plain weird. Sure, he changed the haircut, opting for the youthful short-and-semi-spiky look, and, after a lot of to-and-froing with the dye bottle, allowed himself to go gray, then white. But all that could have been consisten with the right-side part weâd come to know and....know. Somehow, Dan decided--and youâll hear from the clips that these are decisions to which he gives long and thoughtful consideration--that all that was not enough, that the twilight of a long life on camera had to be
marked with a migratory part. And nobody asked why. Until now.