09. September 2004 · Comments Off on CBS 60 Minutes Bush-Slam a Hoax? · Categories: Media Matters Not, Politics

The website Ratherbiased makes a very persuasive argument that last night’s 60 Minutes story questioning President Bush’s National Guard service record was based upon forged documents:

…but it is becoming increasingly evident that 60 Minutes, and the Dan Rather, the reporter behind the story, may have been relying on forged documents to prove their case.

Several indicators point to this conclusion including the fact that the four memoranda, which Rather said were written during the early 1970s by Bush’s commanding officer Lt. Colonel Jerry Killian, are printed in a proportionally spaced type style similar to the common computer font Times New Roman. But such computer technology had not even been invented when the documents were allegedly written.


For its part, CBS has refused to disclose where it had obtained the controversial documents. During last night’s program, Rather stated “we are told [they] were taken from Colonel Killian’s personal file.” Contacted by The Washington Post, Kelli Edwards, a spokesperson for 60 Minutes declined to elaborate any further.

Other evidence points toward the conclusion that CBS News may have been duped. Two of the alleged memos, dated May 4, 1972 and August 18, 1973, use a font technology that was beyond the capabilities of the day.


In the face of such evidence (including the fact that Killian has long since been deceased), and CBS’s refusal to reveal its third-party source, it seems increasingly likely that Dan Rather’s “exclusive” has turned out to be a hoax. Should that be the case, it would not be the first time that the 72-year-old anchorman has been embarrassed by reporting unconfirmed stories.

In his legendary book on the 1972 presidential campaign The Boys on the Bus, author Timothy Crouse relayed how many of Rather’s rivals on the White House beat resented him for his gung-ho approach to the facts.

“Rather often adhered to the ‘informed sources’ or ‘the White House announced today’ formulas, but he was famous in the trade for the times when he bypassed these formulas and ‘winged it’ on a story. Rather would go with an item even if he didn’t have it completely nailed down with verifiable facts. If a rumor sounded solid to him, if he believed it in his gut or had gotten it from a man who struck him as honest, he would let it rip. The other White House reporters hated Rather for this. They knew exactly why he got away with it: being handsome as a cowboy, Rather was a star on CBS News, and that gave him the clout he needed. They could quote all his lapses from fact, like the three times he had Ellsworth Bunker resigning, the two occasions on which he announced that J. Edgar Hoover would step down, or the time he incorrectly predicted that Nixon was about to veto an education bill.”

Update: Big Media is now on board. The story is now being run on FNC’s Special Report with Brit Hume.

Update: On MSNBC’s Hardball, Chris Matthews mentioned the 60 Minutes story, but cited nothing about the apparent forgery. Instead, they concentrated on the film Stolen Honor (yesterday’s news). Now they have Donald Trump talking down Bush. Is it any wonder why FNC is #1?

Update: MSNBC did bring up the issue on ex-sportscaster Keith Oberman’s show. Rather and CBS are currently putting up a stonewall that would make John Kerry himself proud. But this isn’t a simple news story; we are talking about forged government documents here. It seems to me like something John Ashcroft would want to look into.

Comments closed.