And yet it moves

In the year 1633 Galileo Galilei, at the age of 69, was placed on trial by the Catholic Church for heresy. Galileo had published his theory that the Earth revolved around the Sun, and not the converse, despite church teachings to the contrary. The charges were serious; another man, Giordano Bruno, had been burned at the stake for espousing the same beliefs a mere 33 years prior.

Galileo, faced with the threat of torture, imprisonment, and burning, agreed to renounce his beliefs and condemn others who might embrace them. He was still confined, however, for the rest of his life.

Legend has it that, as he rose from his coerced confession and declaration that the Earth was the center of the universe, and all revolves around it, he said under his breath “Eppur si muove” – “and yet it moves.”

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On Wednesday, September 8, 2004, CBS News featured a story on it’s Sixty Minutes II show that purported that President Bush had, indeed, shirked his National Guard duties. Chief among it’s evidence were memos that were said to be authored by Bush’s then commanding officer outlining the failures of then-Lieutenant Bush to fulfill his commitments, obey orders, and the political pressure being placed on this officer to let the matter slide. The Boston Globe joined with them in spreading the story.

The allegations were grave, and the evidence was damning. But many people found troubling elements within those memos that, to them, cast doubt on their veracity.

It started in cyberspace, the new frontier of mass communications. The three people who run Powerline first started speaking of the inconsistencies of the memos, the incredible difficulty involved in creating such works with 30-year-old technology. They stood up to the mighty juggernaut that is CBS and pointed out these flaws. “Eppur si muove!” they cried.

But there was no answer from the juggernaut.

Others took up their cause, and did their own investigations. Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs approached from the opposite direction. He recreated the memos in question using modern technology available to nearly everyone today, and produced virtually identical memos. Everything matched, nearly down to the finest point. He pointed this out to CBS and all who would listen. “Eppur si muove!” he cried.

But there was no answer from the juggernaut.

Even more voices were raised. Law Professor Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit, renowned as the Blogfather of the whole online weblog community, spoke up. Hugh Hewitt, radio talk show host and blogger, cast his voice against the memos. Roger Simon, journalist and blogger, weighed in against CBS. Numerous other respected blogs – the collective authors of The Command Post, INDC Journal, Shape of Days, our own Kevin and Paul of Wizbang, The Captain’s Quarters, The Daily Recycler, the Ace of Spades HQ, Rather Biased, Kerry Spot, and countless too many others to mention – all started shouting truth to power. “Eppur si muove!” they cried. “Eppur si muove!”

But there was no answer from the juggernaut.

Finally other major media started listening to the cry, and started questioning matters on their own. ABC started casting doubts on their rival. The New York Post, the Dallas Morning News, and many other media outlets are starting to turn their scrutiny to CBS.

The juggernaut stands resolutely by it’s story. It defends the legitimacy of the memos it used, deflecting all questions as to their origin. They have the photocpied memos’ typing authenticated by a handwriting expert, who is on record as saying that “photocopies are worthless as evidence.” They say they’re from a now-deceased man’s personal files, despite his family proclaiming that he kept no such papers, and that he loathed typing. And they say that all the features singled out by the critics were available on typewriters of the era, yet ignore the demands that a single machine that possessed all those features and was available to an Air National Guard unit at the time be cited. They stand firm, trusting in their strength and the ephemeral nature of public attention to weather the storm.

359 years after Galileo’s conviction, Pope John Paul II formally pardoned him and issued a public apology. But modern technological innovations have compressed the time needed for such changes. 359 hours after the close of the Sixty Minutes II program will be 7:00 p.m., September 23, 2004, and will mark the closing of the CBS Evening News program. I hereby predict that before that moment in time, CBS will formally retract their story and acknowledge that the memos were forgeries.

J.

Truly questionable timing
North Korean Blast Reported

10 Comments

  1. Jim Kouri September 12, 2004
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  10. -S- September 12, 2004