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.

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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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  1. Hunter September 14, 2004
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