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Inside Politics Weekend: Rather not

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Rather not

Behold. It's "Rathergate — The Movie."

A group of Hollywood insiders is working up a screenplay about former CBS newsman Dan Rather's assorted adventures after he used forged documents in a "60 Minutes" story claiming President Bush compromised his Vietnam-era military service. The erroneous story aired at the height of the 2004 presidential campaign and ultimately prompted mass firings at the network, not to mention Mr. Rather's resignation.

Former CBS producer Mary Mapes' book chronicling the events — "Truth And Duty: The Press, the President, and the Privilege of Power" — will be the basis of the screenplay, adapted by "Zodiac" screenwriter James Vanderbily and USA Network producer Mikkel Bondesen, according to the New York Observer.

"Money is the master," wrote Ms. Mapes in her book. "That is the bottom line to what happened at CBS that fateful fall when we aired a story that, like all stories, was imperfect, but was absolutely grounded in fact. It was well researched and well documented. But when Viacom saw that the story was not well received and that a conservative firestorm was threatening the corporation's financial well-being, their collective wallets started itching. As a result, I believe CBS News, '60 Minutes,' Dan Rather, and journalism itself got badly scratched."

Quotes of note

"Obama One" — Name of Sen. Barack Obama's new Boeing 757 campaign plane.

"In July of last year, we had 79 U.S. service members killed in action in Iraq. We have four thus far this month." - Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell.

"None of us is objective. You can't be objective. But what you can try to be is fair." — Fox News anchor Brit Hume on journalistic values, to C-SPAN's Brian Lamb.

Missing in action

There's a reason why we get no good news about the war in Iraq.

"The number of reporters embedded with U.S. forces in Iraq declined dramatically after the surge in U.S. troop strength went full force last year and violence in the country, including U.S. casualties, started to decline. As a consequence, there have been fewer reporters in the field with U.S. troops in Iraq this year to report on the successes those troops have achieved," writes Kevin Mooney of CNS News.

"In the period since the surge began in January 2007, according to data that the Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF) provided to CNSNews.com, the number of embedded reporters in Iraq peaked in September 2007 at 219 and declined to a low of 58 this June. That is a 74 percent drop in embedded reporters in 9 months."

Everybody say Amen

Civility will come to the campaign on Aug. 16, when Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama make their first joint appearance at the Saddleback Church, a 22,000-member megachurch in Orange County, Calif. — billed as the "Civil Forum on Leadership and Compassion."

Moderator and pastor Rick Warren will make sure everyone behaves.

"This is a critical time for our nation and the American people deserve to hear both candidates speak from the heart — without interruption — in a civil and thoughtful format absent the partisan 'gotcha' questions that typically produce heat instead of light," Mr. Warren said.

Amen, sir.

"The primaries proved that Americans care deeply about the faith, values, character and leadership convictions of candidates as much as they do about the issues," Mr. Warren continued. "Since the oath of the president is a commitment to protect the Constitution, it's critical to know how each candidate interprets the nature of its principles."

The two-hour forum is part of a series meant to laud Jesus Christ and encourage personal responsibility, church credibility and a return to civility, Mr. Warren said.

By the numbers

44 percent of Americans say Sen. Barack Obama's trip to the Middle East was a publicity stunt.

41 percent said it was a necessary step in his quest for the presidency.

50 percent of us say political conventions are a waste of time and money.

36 percent say the gatherings help inform voters about the candidates.

50 percent of Americans say the Rev. Jesse Jackson should stay out of Mr. Obama's campaign.

63 percent say children of candidates are "off limits" to the press.

25 percent said it is important to "get to know them."

Source: Washington Times-Fox 5-Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 adults conducted July 15 to 19.

Days of yore

On this day in 1960, Vice President Richard Nixon was nominated for president at the Republican National Convention in Chicago.

Ironically, it also marks the 34th anniversary of the House Judiciary Committee vote of 27-11 to recommend President Nixon's impeachment on a charge that he had personally engaged in a "course of conduct" designed to obstruct justice in the Watergate case.

A pipe bomb exploded at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta on this day in 1996, launching the saga of Richard A. Jewell, a security guard who found the unexploded device and helped evacuate the area in the next 11 minutes. Mr. Jewell was hailed as a hero, then became a suspect after a "trial by media," he said, once news organizations trumpeted a news leak from the FBI about a "lone bomber." Mr. Jewell later sued the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the New York Post and NBC for libel and was ultimately exonerated once Eric Robert Rudolph pleaded guilty to the bombing in 2005.

Attorney General Janet Reno apologized to Mr. Jewell for his travails; he was later honored as a hero by Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue. Mr. Jewell died Aug. 27 at age 44 of diabetes.

Contact Jennifer Harper at jharper@washingtontimes.com or 202/636-3085.

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