The emails were not enough. Though the address list was growing into the thousands, the public dialogue lacked this kind of essential awareness.
So with the help of a witty graphic artist. . .
. . . and the theatrical guidance of the much-honored Utah Theatre actor and director Tony Larimer, and a script that was fresh off my printer -- and no budget -- I went onstage at the beautiful new Salt Lake City downtown library on October 14th, 2004.
It wasn’t about Bush-bashing or even Republican versus Democrat. American voters simply did not know the degree to which the media business, merged and bought out into but a few magnates, had strangled investigative journalism, even where it had once reigned most proudly.
CBS Anchor Dan Rather knew. On May 16, 2002, he told BBC NEWSNIGHT’s Madeleine Holt:
It's an obscene comparison but there was a time in South Africa when people would put flaming tyres around people's necks if they dissented. In some ways, the fear is that you will be neck-laced here, you will have a flaming tyre of lack of patriotism put around your neck. It's that fear that keeps journalists from asking the toughest of the tough questions and to continue to bore-in on the tough questions so often. Again, I'm humbled to say I do not except myself from this criticism.
[Note: This is the same BBC program where the great American investigative journalist Greg Palast, one of my core inspirations, had to go – outside the U.S. – to be heard.]
And when Rather tried to rise to the strength he had once exemplified, to shine a light on the obscenity of an arrogant man in power who was willing to sacrifice the lives of American sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers – people who believed in patriotism and service – while in his own life, he had cheated his way out of facing any danger, and then had even cheated his way out of the little he was asked to do, in ways that should have met with courtmartial – Rather was thrown under the wheels by a corporation profitting from Bush policy.
And the man who brought him the infamous memos was publicly trashed.
Now that, for Rove, must have been the real Mission Accomplished. Three targets destroyed.
After all, the Bush family had it in for Rather since his 1988 interview with then Vice President George H.W. Bush, seeking to be President, at last. Bush was ready to discuss his candidacy for the Republican nomination, but Rather questioned him about his involvement in the Iran Contra criminal arms-trading operation.
As for the man with the memos, that was Retired Lt. Col. Bill Burkett, who had witnessed both the 1997 phone call from Texas Governor Bush’s Chief of Staff Joe Albaugh 1997 requesting the scrubbing of the files of George W. Bush at the Texas Air National guard, and the actual scrubbing itself.
It was their public appearances for the book tour that prompted the anonymous phone call Burkett received from an Hispanic-sounding woman, calling herself Lucy, saying she had evidence she wanted him to have, memos from Bush’s commanding officer documenting his irresponsibility and the favoritism he was given.
The memos were later surreptitiously delivered to Burkett by an unidentified caucasian man without further information.