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Rather on Letterman

The Power Line Boys excoriate David Letterman for his suck-up interview of Dan Rather during Dan's Farewell Tour. Power Line Blog produced some extraordinarily high quality journalism (and I mean that in the best sense of that word) unfolding the "Rathergate" scandal over the use of patently phony, forged Texas Air National Guard documents. But I think the Trunk-in-ator is being a bit harsh on ol' Dave.

David Letterman is not a journalist. He's not even a particularly good interviewer. In fact, generally, he's terrible at actual questioning. Letterman is an entertainer. His guests are there to provide entertainment. No more, no less. His interview "style" is not about getting information disseminated. It's about letting a guest tell his or her story, with Letterman making wry, witty commentary on the fly.

If I read the interview, that's what Dave was trying to do with Rather. I don't think it worked. But, that's what Letterman was trying to do, as per his usual modus operandi. Criticizing Letterman for being insufficiently hardhitting in an interview is like criticizing Barry Manilow's boxing skills. It's just not what he's all about -- regardless of whatever deficiencies he may have in that area.

Addendum: Mr. Johnson responded by email, stating that the only one whose conduct he is criticizing in that interview was Courage Dan:
I don't think I said a single word that even hinted at a criticism of David Letterman. My only comment is to the effect that Rather's account of the report is twisted in a Nixonian way. I wouldn't expect David Letterman to know the first thing about the subject or to grill Rather about it on a comedy/variety show.
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