There is a rumor that a former colleague of Dan Rather at CBS Evening News has said, after speaking with executives at CBS News, "the consensus is that Dan Rather may be forced to fall on his sword." See, Mickey Kaus Degradation Spreads!; Colby and Beyond! Rather's colleagues: Rather "to fall on his sword"; Mayflower Hill Blog ***CBS EXCLUSIVE***.
I have no idea whether this rumor is true or not, but eventually the question of Dan Rather falling on his sword will be raised.
First, if Dan Rather has to fall on his sword it won't be because he erred in the original report, unless the problems with his involvement in vetting the story are overwhelmingly clear. If he has to fall on his sword it will be because of the stonewalling after the fact. Rather's vigorous denials that the criticisms were valid, the stories' critics partisan, after-the-fact expert shopping to support a crumbling story, and insistance that the story was true, though the documents might be forgeries will be what has done him in. In Greek tragedies, they called it "hubris."
Second, my personal view is that this isn't about Dan Rather so much as it is about CBS News as an organization. Dan Rather clearly plays an important role as the narrator and overly-aggressive defender of the report, but CBS News is too large an organization for even a single prominent individual, like Rather, to be entirely responsible. The producer of the piece, Mapes, will certainly be scapegoated, but all of CBS News is implicated in the stonewalling. Are there no editors at CBS Evening News? Who vetted and interviewed the second string experts Glennon and Katz? Dan Rather was not the anchor on the CBS Evening News on Saturday the 11th, when the show misleadingly seem to claim that a respected document examiner, Philip Bouffard, had changed his mind about the authenticity of the documents. Who was in charge of that report?
There are many other questions about CBS News' response to be answered in the coming days and weeks.
UPDATE 2220 PT
The NY Times reports that CBS News is ready to acknowledge that the documents are forgeries (CBS News Concludes It Was Misled on National Guard Memos, Network Officials Say):
Those officials, who asked not to be identified, said CBS News would most likely make an announcement as early as today that it had been deceived about the documents' origins, and that it was mounting an intensive news investigation of where they came from....
People at the network said it was now possible that officials would open a formal internal inquiry into how it moved forward with the report, which officials now say they are beginning to believe was too flawed to have gone on the air.
An investigation into where the documents came from and how they got on the air is only part of the solution. An investigation into how and why CBS News lowered its standards in order to steadfastly defend the documents after valid and credible criticism had been raised must also be part of the investigation if CBS News is to regain its credibility.