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9/16/2004


Rather, Rinse, Repeat.

Did you see Dan Rather on last nights broadcast of CBS Nightly News and on 60 Minutes 2? I’ve never seen such a sullen looking rich partisan journalist in my entire life. The guy looked beat. From what I understand he was in meetings regarding Rathergate right up until he went on air for the nightly news. By the time the cameras were on him, it looked like his best friend, dog, and credibility had died. It did, but he only has himself to blame.

His obvious bias is no longer the issue in my mind, it is whether he can honestly call himself a journalist, especially after last nights statement release and subsequent interview with Marion Carr Knox. The intent of both, no doubt, was to admit in some way that the documents are fake while retaining as much credibility as possible, as well as answer some of the questions looming over the scandal. Unfortunately for CBS, merely naming those that identified in the verification process feel short of solid reporting, leaving even more questions to be answered.

The handwriting experts

Not much can be said about the handwriting experts. This is their opinion and they are entitled to it. However for every expert that says the docs are true, you can find one that says they are fakes. The two experts (here and here) CBS retains as valid are those that stand by their claims that the documents are authentic, while the two that have distanced themselves from CBS have been marginalized by the network as having “played a peripheral role” only. So obviously it is not important to have unanimity between experts, just one or two that agree with the chosen direction of the report. Got it?

The Techs

In the statement released by CBS they make a damning admission in my opinion. In it they admit that they consulted four experts in handwriting and one in typesetting. But not until after last week Wednesday’s broadcast did they enlist the expertise of Bill Glennon, “a long time IBM typewriter service technician,” and Richard Katz a “computer software expert”, something that should have been done before going public the first time.

    ”Four independent individuals with expertise in the authentication of documents were consulted prior to the broadcast of the story regarding the documents 60 MINUTES Wednesday obtained: document examiners Marcel B. Matley, James J. Pierce, Emily Will and Linda James.”

    “Additionally, two more individuals with specific expertise relative to the documents – Bill Glennon, a technology consultant and long-time IBM typewriter service technician, and Richard Katz, a computer software expert – were asked to examine the documents after the broadcast for a report in the Sept. 13 CBS EVENING NEWS.”
Bill Glennon

CBS:“They strongly refuted the claim made by some critics that there were no typewriters in existence in the early 1970s that could have produced such documents.”

Unfortunately for CBS, merely making assertions as to ones credibility is not enough. You need to be able to back up any and every claim made by the so called “expert.” So when Bill Glennon states that “the IBM model executive, D Executive or the C Executive, did proportional type spacing.” And that it also “would do proportional spacing from line to line.” As well as, “superscript printing for like the “th,” which you could.” Then CBS needs to reproduce the document with that typewriter and show it to the audience with as much accuracy as those reproduced by bloggers. It is simply not enough to satisfy people anymore just because someone says so. Both CBS and Bill’s credibility will remain in question until this document is produced.

Richard Katz

As for Richard's “strong” refutation…

    RICHARD KATZ (IBM expert): If you were doing this a week ago or a month ago on a normal LaserJet printer, it wouldn't work. You just couldn't--there just--the font wouldn't be available to you.
Not true. The font is available and many people have proven this by recreating the document and transposing it over the original. Result: Perfect match.

    RATHER: Katz also noted that the documents have both the so-called superscript T-H and a regular-size T-H. That would be common on a typewriter, not a computer.

    KATZ: There is one document from May of 1972 which contains a normal T-H at the top. To produce that in Microsoft Word, you would have to go out of your way to type the letters and then turn the T-H setting off or back over them and type them again.
Go out of your way? I’m sorry but I type a lot during the day and evening and it is not a hassle to have to hit the backspace button. In fact this paragraph alone I used it about 6 times. Thank you gentlemen for proving the point. Microsoft Word can reproduce the same results as the document shows. This is hardly a strong refutation in my opinion.

One more question about Richard Katz. What type of software expert is he? Does he create fonts for Microsoft? Or does he write code for the new Tyco robot pup? Why should I accept him as a credible source when all we have about him is that he is a “software expert”?

The Star witness – Marion Carr Knox

CBS admits that the documents are fakes but that the content is true based on the testimony of Marion Carr Knox, the self describe right hand of Col. Killian. In her interview with Dan Rather she states, “I did not type those memos. And it’s not the form I would have used.” She goes on to say that, “there are words in there that belong in the Army, not to the Air Guard. We never used those terms,” and that even though she didn’t type the memos, “The information in those is correct.”

Later in the interview she makes an even stronger asserttion. She states, “It seems that somebody did see those memos, and then tried to reproduce and maybe changed them enough so that he wouldn’t get in trouble over it.”

This demonstrates another CBS credibility problem, by using one person’s testimony and not having the original documents to back up the story. Simply produce a copy of the originals or the originals themselves and some of the credibility problems plaguing CBS and Dan Rather will begin to fade. One person’s testimony hardly makes the case.

When CBS makes the claim that “a preponderance of evidence” was used, in that “many interviews, both on- and off-camera, with individuals with direct and indirect knowledge of the situation, atmosphere and events of the period in question,” were used, they then need to identify those individuals and get a signed affidavit saying they are willing to stand by their assertions. If they have anything less than that, it’s sloppy journalism.

CBS Homework:

1. I would like to know what type of software expert Richard Katz is.

2. Dan and crew will also need to replicate an exact copy of the forgery using the typewriter described by Bill Glennon. Anything less than point by point, line space by line space, font to font, tab to tab exact replication will fail to convince the blogsphere.

3. CBS needs to find copies of the originals or the originals themselves. Anything less is a forgery and shouldn’t be used as evidence. Hopefully that lesson is now seared – seared into them.

4. They need to produce the individuals with direct knowledge of the situation. I could care less if they have indirect knowledge. Give me more people to substantiate Marrion Carr Knox’s allegations using people as close to Bush as she was. Only first hand knowledge should be used in this type of reporting.

Update: Spoons linked to me and provided another link to Allah Pundit who gives further analysis. Thank you Spoons!

Update: This just in...
    "Documents allegedly written by a deceased officer that raised questions about President Bush's service with the Texas Air National Guard bore markings showing they had been faxed to CBS News from a Kinko's copy shop in Abilene, Tex., according to another former Guard officer who was shown the records by the network."
Now who lives in Texas near that Kinkos?

    "There is only one Kinko's in Abilene, and it is 21 miles from the Baird, Tex., home of retired Texas National Guard officer Bill Burkett, who has been named by several news outlets as a possible source for the documents."
Who is Bill Burkett you ask? Find out here. Or better yet read this one from Townhall. No no no. Not those. This one.

posted by: Brian Scott


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