11. September 2004 · Comments Off on Come-One, Come-All · Categories: General

Ratherbiased.com, the source which appears to have broken the ‘Memogate’ scandal – and the source I first blogged on, is inviting one and all to participate in a live fisking of the 72 year-old liberal icon.

Dan Rather’s defense of himself tonight, while probably impressive to shallow observers was far from convincing. Here’s a list of things he ignored, did not properly address, or concealed from viewers. Feel free to send us your suggestions to this live fisking. For the transcript, click here.

Sourcing problems
1. The 72-year-old anchor conveniently did not mention the fact that James Moore, one of his key validative sources, is a left-wing activist and author who has written two anti-Bush books, Bush’s Brain, and Bush’s War for Reelection. Rather referred to him as “author Jim Moore has written two books on the subject.”

2. He deliberately ignored statements from Col. Killian’s wife and son who said that he hated using typewriters, hardly ever kept notes, and very much liked George W. Bush. In today’s Washington Post, CBS conceded that it had not asked his wife to authenticate the letters it claims were written by her husband. Both Killian’s widow and son say that the alleged memos are not characteristic of his style and do not believe they are all authentic.

3. Rather did not mention that Ben Barnes, the Democratic lobbyist who is now saying he helped young Bush into the Texas Air National Guard (TANG), has changed his story according to his Republican daughter, Amy. She says that Barnes is making his Bush claims in preparation for his upcoming autobiography and to build up his political profile in the hopes of getting hired by a Kerry administration, all of which he allegedly told her.

4. Also left out by Rather was the fact that one of the CBS documents dated in 1973 refers to pressure that then-Col. Walter B. “Buck” Staudt, had supposedly been applying on Killian to make things easier for Bush. Unfortunately for CBS’s case, however, Staudt had retired in 1973.

5. CBS’s own paid signature expert (the network featured no typographers or typewriter experts tonight or in Wednesday’s report), Marcel Matley, directly undermined CBS’s case several years earlier in an essay for the American Law Institute:

“Do not passively accept a copy as the sole basis of a case. Every copy, intentionally or unintentionally, is in some way false to the original. In fact, modern copiers and computer printers are so good that they permit easy fabrication of quality forgeries.”

In his defense tonight, Rather admitted that “the documents CBS started with were also photocopies.”

6. Rather conveniently did not mention that one of its main validators, retired Maj. General Bobby Hodges is accusing 60 Minutes staff of lying to him in order to get him to say the supposed Killian memos were authentic. ABC News has the story:

“Hodges, Killian’s supervisor at the Guard, tells ABC News that he feels CBS misled him about the documents they uncovered. According to Hodges, CBS told him the documents were ‘handwritten’ and after CBS read him excerpts he said, ‘well if he wrote them that’s what he felt.’

“Hodges also said he did not see the documents in the 70’s and he cannot authenticate the documents or the contents. His personal belief is that the documents have been ‘computer-generated’ and are a ‘fraud.'”

The Washington Post reported earlier today that CBS considered Hodges its “trump card”:

“A senior CBS official, who asked not to be named because CBS managers did not want to go beyond their official statement, named one of the network’s sources as retired Maj. Gen. Bobby W. Hodges, the immediate superior of the documents’ alleged author, Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian. He said a CBS reporter read the documents to Hodges over the phone and Hodges replied that “these are the things that Killian had expressed to me at the time.”

“These documents represent what Killian not only was putting in memoranda, but was telling other people,” the CBS News official said. “Journalistically, we’ve gone several extra miles.”

The official said the network regarded Hodges’s comments as “the trump card” on the question of authenticity, as he is a Republican who acknowledged that he did not want to hurt Bush. Hodges, who declined to grant an on-camera interview to CBS, did not respond to messages left on his home answering machine in Texas.

Looks like jokers are no longer wild.

Typographical problems

1. Although he tried to minimize the typographical concerns raised by many critics, Rather nonetheless tried to defend himself in this area. He failed, however. On the superscript issue, which Rather tried to explain away by throwing out the red herring that “Critics claim typewriters didn’t have that ability in the 70s. But some models did.”

The problem with this statement is that Rather fails to list any such typewriters which might have the capability or how a measely Air National Guard office would be able to afford such expensive machines. Simply showing a photocopy of a letter in Bush’s official file which originated from the Army’s national office is no proof at all.

2. The split screen image CBS offered of an official Bush document with superscript ordinal suffix and one of its own documents was not very convincing. The superscripts are quite different-looking and the typefaces used are very different.

3. Rather also neglected to mention that all of the documents which were written by Killian himself and his officers relied on simple mechanical typewriters incapable of printing in proportional fonts, let alone superscript.

4. Dan also appears unfamiliar with fonts and typography. At one point in the rebuttal, he refers to the font used in the CBS letters as “New Times Roman,” when the real name is Times New Roman. Rather also appears to be ignorant of the fact that Times New Roman was never used in typewriters and only came into wide use in the early 1990s when Microsoft licensed the font from the then Monotype Corporation in preparation for the launch of Windows 3.0.

Rhetorical Problems

1. Rather tried to smear critics who disagreed with him: “Today on the Internet and elsewhere, including many who were partisan political operatives, concentrated on the key questions of the overall story, but on the documents that were part of the support of the story.”

Since Rather failed to differentiate between who is a “partisan political operative” and who isn’t, it’s hard to conclude this line is nothing more than a red herring meant to scare his viewers who have not been following the ongoing story.

Les Jones adds: “Partisan political operatives? That’s funny, I don’t recall cashing any checks from Karl Rove. Translation: the jury didn’t believe the witness, so they ignored the witness’s testimony. Therefore CBS is going to claim the jury was rigged.”

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