Rather's Trent Lott Moment?

In less than 24 hours the blogosphere looks to have debunked the major scoop from last nights Dan Rather/60 Minutes II hatchet job.

60 Minutes has obtained a number of documents we are told were taken from Col. Killian’s personal file.

Col. Killian died in 1984. 60 Minutes consulted a handwriting analyst and document expert who believes the material is authenticRight off this should have been a warning sign to CBS that there might have been an authenticity problem, but they report them as the gospel truth even though the can’t produce a single person who has ever seen them before.

This morning the shit hit the fan in the blogosphere as Powerline (mirrored at Command Post) LGF, Allah, and others investigated (real time) aspects of the magic document find. Ultimately it’s been settled (for the most part) that it’s pretty easy to self create the documents CBS is alleged to have “found.” A reader sent me this easily created Word file/PDF comparison (with tilt and guidelines added for reference):

All you need to do is photocopy a few generations of the document and you’ve got what Rather showed on 60 Minutes II last night.

Bill at INDCJournal tracked down a forensic document expert of his own, who put his name and credentials on the table (unlike CBS’s), and declared that the CBS presented documents are forgeries. After examining the documents several times he concludes the likelihood of forgery is over 90%. Why?

In the document provided by CBS News, the number 4 does not “have a foot” and has a “closed top,” which is indicative of Times New Roman, a font exclusive to more modern computer word processing programs. other characters matched the old proportional spacing fonts (available on only a small few typewriters of the era), but this number did not (please note that this is only an initial analysis with numerical characters).

Dr. Bouffard ran this number and could not find a match in his entire database of over 4,000 typewriter fonts that have been maintained and collected into his computer database since 1988. Otherwise, the font is very indicative of Times New Roman, the font that is only available on computer word processing programs.

[Read the rest]The story is starting to filter back to the mainstream media. Drudge is running the story and you can expect some of CBS’s competitors to work up for a pile on this evening or tomorrow.

Have blogs caught Rather in his Trent Lott moment? It sure looks that way.

Update: Charles Johnson has a damning bit of evidence.

Update 2: CBS is sticking by the story.

Update 3: The big media is picking up on it. Brit Hume had it. CNSNEWS, and the Weekly Standard one story up so far and I think they are working on another.

Some outlets are reporting that the White House is convinced of the documents authenticity. That’s not an accurate report, as a careful reading of this ABC report indicates:

Yet, it was the White House not Kerry’s campaign that distributed four memos from 1972 and 1973 from Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, now deceased, who was the commander of the 111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron in Houston where Bush served. The White House obtained the memos from CBS News, which said it was convinced of their authenticity, and the White House did not question their accuracy.

Update 4: BUSTED

In the August 18, 1973 memo “discovered” by 60 Minutes, Jerry Killian purportedly writes:

Staudt has obviously pressured Hodges more about Bush. I’m having trouble running interference and doing my job.

But wait! Reader Amar Sarwal points out that General Staudt, who thought very highly of Lt. Bush, retired in 1972.Update 5: Based on the work of Dr. Philip Bouffard as detailed at INDC Journal I noticed that no one shown a close up of the point he was making about issue with the number “4” he noted in the CBS documents.

Dr. Bouffard began entering individual characters in an attempt to match them to the remaining fonts that were available on proportional spacing typewriters of that era, focusing on numbers. Thus far, one character stood out, the number “4.” In the document provided by CBS News, the number 4 does not “have a foot” and has a “closed top,” which is indicative of Times New Roman, a font exclusive to more modern computer word processing programs.

Dr. Bouffard ran this number and could not find a match in his entire database of over 4,000 typewriter fonts that have been maintained and collected into his computer database since 1988.Here’s a comparison of the August 1, 1972 memo and Microsoft’s Times New Roman font as captured from Word 2003 on Windows XP. The September 5, 1973 is from the document Powerline linked.

cbsdocnumber4studysmall.jpg

Game Over.

Blogosphere Asking the Wrong question
The 10 Spot

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