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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."

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.



Listed below are links to weblogs that reference And yet it moves:

» respublica linked with Rather recap

» Feste...a foolsblog linked with Eppur si muove

» Evan Nemerson's Blog linked with You're not Galileo

Comments (10)

Great blog, Jay. I read the... (Below threshold)

Great blog, Jay. I read the Dallas Morning News article.It boggles the mind that CBS News would put their credibility on the line in order to help the Democrats get their rat into the White House. But apparently that's exactly what they did. Besides the memos, which I leave to experts to figure out, I've been following other aspects of the 60 Minutes hatchet-job. For instance, the fact that Ben Barnes was not Lt. Governor in 1969 precludes him from helping anyone get into the Guard in 1968, as he claims he did for the Bush family. The fact that Lt. Col. Killian's son told the 60 Minutes producer to talk to Bush's roommate in the Guard who would have told the producer that Bush and he attempted to join an elite squadron to go to Vietnam, but they were turned down due to inexperience. The producer never even tried to contact Bush's former roomie.
The whole 60 Minutes story stinks from top to bottom. Dan Rather's logic is also lacking. According to his logic, the person(s) writing there memos knew that Bush would one day run for President, so they ordered a special typewriter just to document Bush's shortcomings. If the idiot Rather knew anything about the military in 1970-71, he would have known NG offices did not have state-of-the-art typing systems. They were lucky if they could get an electric typewriter.

You are a nut Jay Tea... My... (Below threshold)

You are a nut Jay Tea... My only knock if you needed edit it and give Bill a bigger plug. The guy did an invaluable thing.

Sept. 23 is the day that Io... (Below threshold)
Meyer B:

Sept. 23 is the day that Iowa begins its voting for Pres. Coincidence???

oh and it won't take that l... (Below threshold)

oh and it won't take that long

I told my mom Friday when she asked for a prediction... You wouldn't want to lie to dear old mom would you?

Paul, I've been insanely bu... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Paul, I've been insanely busy with work the last few days, and have missed at least 80% of this whole story. I was going for a bigger overview; I'm leaving the finer details to you and Kevin, because you both have your teeth firmly in this one's throat. I don't have anything to add to the substance, so I'm contributing style and historical comparison.

And I meant the 359 hours as a deadline, a little quirk that struck me as odd. I don't think it'll take that long, but the parallel was too good to let slide.


As a Catholic, I deeply res... (Below threshold)

As a Catholic, I deeply resent the slander of my church being compared to CBS News ;-)

Not to diminish your predic... (Below threshold)

Not to diminish your prediction, but the whole Galileo incident has been misreported and spun by hostile media for so long that the truth was lost along the way. Bruno was burned for being a heretic (which he indisputedly was), not for adopting the Copernican system. There was never an established doctrine about the immobility of the earth. Galileo apparently never said "Eppur si muove", though it makes a better story.

Galileo got into trouble for violating a written agreement about the teaching of the Copernican system. Most investigators now believe that the copy of the agreement used by the inquisition against him was a forgery , inserted into his file by an enemy. It was not the one he had agreed to, nor had he ever seen it.

I'm not making this up. Google "Galileo forgery" to learn more.

Chris, that's why I used th... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Chris, that's why I used the term "legend." I was just following CBS' example and not letting actual facts get in the way of a good story, and using falsehoods to give greater exposure to "a greater truth."


I don't know...I caught Rat... (Below threshold)

I don't know...I caught Rather sticking by his story on CNN. He said there will not be an apology, nor a retraction.

I'm waiting for another twist in this story. Something else is going to shake loose from this. I don't know what, but there's another layer here we haven't seen yet.

Or perhaps I just watch too many movies with multilple plots...

Timmer:Source and ... (Below threshold)


Source and motive.
Source and motive.

That's what's yet to be indentified with certainty. Lots of probably certain, certainly realistic, best guess about both, but, what's yet to be "proven" is source and motive.

CBS is just a floating piece of paper on the pool that is Source and Motive.






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