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Rather's World Crumbles

Well it's really starting to get interesting now. Michael Dobbs and Howard Kurtz, in a story buried on page 8 of the main section of Tuesday's Washington Post, interview CBS's original document expert who proceeds to pull the rug out from under Rather.

The lead expert retained by CBS News to examine disputed memos from President Bush's former squadron commander in the National Guard said yesterday that he examined only the late officer's signature and made no attempt to authenticate the documents themselves.

"There's no way that I, as a document expert, can authenticate them," Marcel Matley said in a telephone interview from San Francisco. The main reason, he said, is that they are "copies" that are "far removed" from the originals.

...CBS executives have pointed to Matley as their lead expert on whether the memos are genuine, and included him in a "CBS Evening News" defense of the story Friday. Matley said he spent five to eight hours examining the memos. "I knew I could not prove them authentic just from my expertise," he said. "I can't say either way from my expertise, the narrow, narrow little field of my expertise."

In looking at the photocopies, he said, "I really felt we could not definitively say which font this is." But, he said, "I didn't see anything that would definitively tell me these are not authentic."

Asked about Matley's comments, CBS spokeswoman Sandy Genelius said: "In the end, the gist is that it's inconclusive. People are coming down on both sides, which is to be expected when you're dealing with copies of documents."

Devastating. As for the last quoted paragraph, that's just delusional.

Update: More on the story from the equally timely Allah.

Update: In the end, Rather turned to one of the same people he disparaged earlier to defend him. A blogger.

Bill Glennon, a technology consultant and I.B.M. typewriter specialist who had posted his thoughts on the memos on a blog and was quoted over the weekend in publications including The New York Times, said CBS called him Monday morning. The producer asked him to come in and look at the memorandums and say whether he thought that an I.B.M. typewriter could have produced the documents. He said he was initially leery of talking. "Because quite honestly there's some people out there, they're scary," he said. "You don't agree with them, you offer opinions that don't jibe with theirs and you get a target on your back."

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Comments (13)

- But wait ... theres more ... (Below threshold)
Hunter:

- But wait ... theres more ... From the Ron Popiel house of Home brewed documents...

- Newcomer drew an analogy with an art expert trying to determine whether a painting of unknown provenance was painted by Leonardo Da Vinci. "If I was looking for a Da Vinci, I would look for characteristic brush strokes," he said. "If I found something that was painted with a modern synthetic brush, I would know that I have a forgery."

( Ok...So they were really painted by Da Vinci using Paintbrush )

Meanwhile, Laura Bush became the first person from the White House to say the documents are likely forgeries. "You know they are probably altered," she told Radio Iowa in Des Moines yesterday. "And they probably are forgeries, and I think that's terrible, really."

( Hey...If the first lady can spot them as fakes what more does anyone need....)

Citing confidentiality issues, CBS News has declined to reveal the source of the disputed documents -- which have been in the network's possession for more than a month -- or to explain how they came to light after more than three decades. Yesterday, USA Today said that it had independently obtained copies of the documents "from a person with knowledge of Texas Air National Guard operations" who declined to be named "for fear of retaliation."

- ( Yeh....I bet....I wouldn't want retaliation from the FBI or DOD either.....)

- Tell me we're finally starting to see the walls of stone crumbling so I can take an Alka seltzer and relax.... Heh

Scrub RatherSept. 21... (Below threshold)
Sweet!Life is good... (Below threshold)
KJC:

Sweet!

Life is good, the liars will go down in flames!

- Yes...Ahh...Is this Trave... (Below threshold)
Hunter:

- Yes...Ahh...Is this Travel....book me for a round trip in first class to Tahiti... Yeah...Return date....Hmmm...leave it open with say a target of oct 08...

Andrew Heyward, the CBS News president, said in an interview on Sunday that he was not concerned about the validity of the documents or the report CBS News presented. "I'm firmly convinced that the memos are authentic and the stories are accurate," he said.

( All further comunications should be directed to Mr. Heywards private secretary...Mr. Heyward will be out of the office for a few years... )

<a href="http://itsjustdan.... (Below threshold)
Dan:
Brutal!A de... (Below threshold)
repub:

Brutal!


A detailed comparison by The Washington Post of memos obtained by CBS News with authenticated documents on Bush's National Guard service reveals dozens of inconsistencies, ranging from conflicting military terminology to different word-processing techniques.


I give Rather, oh, about a week before he's fired (or commits suicide, who knows). And maybe one more week before this gets traced back to the Kerry campaign...which will END it. It is Watergate 2 if DNC/Kerry operatives are found to have peddled forged documents to 60 minutes. Using forged military documents on national television to influence a presidential election? We're talking some criminal shiznit....Oh, I LOVE IT.

AHAHAHAHA!

What is that saying about n... (Below threshold)
Paul:

What is that saying about nails and coffins?

This is the beginning of th... (Below threshold)
Paul:

This is the beginning of the end.

This is my first post on th... (Below threshold)
JRR:

This is my first post on this whole issue. It may appear at first unrelated, but I think it proves a point.

Have you ever seen the puzzle where you read a block of text and the trick is to count the number of times the letter "f" appeared? Here is the puzzle text:

FINISHED FILES ARE THE RE-
SULT OF YEARS OF SCIENTIF-
IC STUDY COMBINED WITH
THE EXPERIENCE OF YEARS.

The trick is to count the number of times the letter "f" appears. The answer is 6 times (sorry to ruin it for you). The reason it fools people is because the human brain misses the "f" in the word "of" because it sounds like the letter "v". We also read so quickly that when it comes to words like "of" in text, we don't typically pay a lot of attention to those smaller words or focus on them. Our brains fill in that information as we read because our brains know where in the text they should appear while we are reading.

So, what's the point? Well, it's this. One of Rather's (weak) arguments for the authenticity of the now infamous memos is that one contains both iterations of the "th" suffix on two separate numbers, 111th with the "th" suffix not superscripted and 187th, in which the "th" is superscripted. As is standard with MS Word - and other people have mentioned this - when Word automatically superscripts these numerical suffixes, to undo this automatic act, one need only to backspace (twice, I believe - once for the space which triggers the automatic formatting and once for the actual autoformatting itself). This will undo the autoformatting of the numerical suffix without erasing any letters.

The fact that the one memo contains both iterations of the numerical suffix doesn't support it's authenticity. What it does suggest is, just as with those "f"s in the puzzle up at the top, whoever forged these memos likely mentally missed the superscripted "th" when they were proofing it, because their brain had become so accustomed to seeing it in documents all the time.

I hadn't heard that mentioned at all, so I thought I'd throw it in. I'm far from an expert. I am, however, enjoying watching this unfold and hope that it results in some serious changes in the way news is reported. If it doesn't, and Rather and CBS slide, then this problem will only continue to replicate itself in future "news" programs.

This is my first post on th... (Below threshold)
JRR:

This is my first post on this whole issue. It may appear at first unrelated, but I think it proves a point.

Have you ever seen the puzzle where you read a block of text and the trick is to count the number of times the letter "f" appeared? Here is the puzzle text:

FINISHED FILES ARE THE RE-
SULT OF YEARS OF SCIENTIF-
IC STUDY COMBINED WITH
THE EXPERIENCE OF YEARS.

The trick is to count the number of times the letter "f" appears. The answer is 6 times (sorry to ruin it for you). The reason it fools people is because the human brain misses the "f" in the word "of" because it sounds like the letter "v". We also read so quickly that when it comes to words like "of" in text, we don't typically pay a lot of attention to those smaller words or focus on them. Our brains fill in that information as we read because our brains know where in the text they should appear while we are reading.

So, what's the point? Well, it's this. One of Rather's (weak) arguments for the authenticity of the now infamous memos is that one contains both iterations of the "th" suffix on two separate numbers, 111th with the "th" suffix not superscripted and 187th, in which the "th" is superscripted. As is standard with MS Word - and other people have mentioned this - when Word automatically superscripts these numerical suffixes, to undo this automatic act, one need only to backspace (twice, I believe - once for the space which triggers the automatic formatting and once for the actual autoformatting itself). This will undo the autoformatting of the numerical suffix without erasing any letters.

The fact that the one memo contains both iterations of the numerical suffix doesn't support it's authenticity. What it does suggest is, just as with those "f"s in the puzzle up at the top, whoever forged these memos likely mentally missed the superscripted "th" when they were proofing it, because their brain had become so accustomed to seeing it in documents all the time.

I hadn't heard that mentioned at all, so I thought I'd throw it in. I'm far from an expert. I am, however, enjoying watching this unfold and hope that it results in some serious changes in the way news is reported. If it doesn't, and Rather and CBS slide, then this problem will only continue to replicate itself in future "news" programs.

There has to be some law ag... (Below threshold)
OhioanForBush:

There has to be some law against the forging of government documents and attempting to pass them off as official documents.

I just put in a call to the N.Y. FBI field office at (212) 384-1000 where CBS News is based and left a message for the public relations officer detailing my inquiry and requesting a call back. I will report back here on my findings.

Now, does CBS start constru... (Below threshold)

Now, does CBS start constructing a "we were duped, too" defense? They could claim they were taken in by forgeries, and there were misunderstandings with some sources, and the while the docs are probably fake, President Bush is still unfit to serve another term because he didn't take a flight physical in 1973. That seems like the only way to save face, but only if they do it sooner rather than later and only if they divulge the source of the memos. Alternatively, if CBS continues to stonewall, it could go down like this: the "P.O. Box 34567" is shown to be phony, which would mean that Lt. Col. Killian could not have produced the docs, it's too late for CBS to save face and then the entire focus of the story becomes -- "Where did the docs come from?"

What do the Rosenbergs and ... (Below threshold)
Justin @ RSR:

What do the Rosenbergs and Dan Rather have in common? see here




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