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EVERY MEDIA CRITIC in the country has reported on the fact that CBS News anchor Dan Rather has NOT reported on missing D.C. intern Chandra Levy. All except for one lone hold-out: media critic Howard Mortman.

I refuse to write about Dan Rather until there is solid news about why and how he went missing (from the story). I fear that those covering Mr. Rather—in the absence of hard evidence—are feeding the public's base desire for anything involving sex, violence or Dan Rather.

A hallmark of my work is caution. Unlike other media critics, I did not raise a hue and cry over TV pundits who talked about both O.J. Simpson and Monica Lewinsky. The only objection I have raised to media consolidation is why it hasn't raised my take-home pay. And now I must be a contrarian again—the bizarre tale of Dan Rather’s refusal to air a Chandra story just doesn’t meet my Pulitzer-potential smell test.

Like my fellow media critics, I have heard the gossipy explanations of Rather’s choice: brooding over bad haircuts, hours spent developing catchy CBS News slogans, Mad Cow disease. The only rumor to which I give even a shred of credence is the allegation that Rather’s sweaters are romantically linked to sweaters of a member of Congress. Argyles, apparently.

My mission has always been to be fair and objective about Dan Rather and avoid the Dan Rather sensationalism so prevalent in our culture. Until the Dan Rather mystery is solved, I will not pander. I, for one, will stick to my principles and continue monitoring developments surrounding "Big Brother 2."

Howard Mortman is senior columnist for National
Journal’s Hotline. His columns are archived online.

More Dan Rather humor:
The Dan Rather Simile Quiz

More indignant editorials:
Leave Jenna Bush Alone!

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