Friday, September 10, 2004

Media Bias - 2nd Update on the CBS Hoax

Powerline thinks that Dan Rather is trying to go out with a bang after he personally guaranteed the authenticity of the Killian documents:
A half hour ago, Dan Rather went on CNN and said that he knows the Jerry Killian documents to be authentic, and knows that they are not forgeries. Therefore, he said, there will be no retraction, no correction, and -- apparently -- no investigation...

This would appear to signal the end of Rather's career. If the documents are ultimately accepted as forgeries, which seems inevitable to us, he can't survive. My guess: Rather knows that he will be retiring soon in any event, so as his last public contribution, he is doing whatever he can to elect John Kerry.
Given the acrimony of this campaign, the rabid hatred of Bush and the double standard evidenced by the treatment of this story as compared to the Swiftvets story (think about this: CBS rushed to get an anti-Bush story on the air, a story on an issue peripheral at best to Bush's campaign, and one based on documents supposedly from a dead man - documents that were picked apart within minutes of their release. Contrast this with the coverage of the Swiftvets story, wherein over 200 individuals came forward with sworn affidavits on an issue that was central to the Kerry campaign)I'm absolutely convinced that the mainstream has abandoned any semblance of impartiality and is actively working to get John Kerry elected (see here and here and here ).

What I'm not so convinced about is whether the exposure of these documents as forgeries will hurt Dan Rather with his base or with his network: Powerline quotes a CBS press release that says no further investigation is planned.

Elsewhere, the CBS News website has a story on the controversy that, while generally toeing the company line (and repeating the charges) also raises questions on the forgeries:
Independent document examiner Sandra Ramsey Lines said the memos looked like they had been produced on a computer using Microsoft Word software. Lines, a document expert and fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, pointed to a superscript - a smaller, raised "th" in "111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron" - as evidence indicating forgery.

Microsoft Word automatically inserts superscripts in the same style as the two on the memos obtained by 60 Minutes, she said.

"I'm virtually certain these were computer generated," Lines said to the Associated Press after reviewing copies of the documents at her office in Paradise Valley, Ariz. She produced a nearly identical document using her computer's Microsoft Word software.
(via The Corner)

With all the focus on fonts, superscripts and proportional spacing, Byron York takes a look at What the Bush Guard Papers Actually Say. One damning point:
On May 2, 1973, one of George W. Bush's superior officers in the Texas National Guard wrote an evaluation of him that would later become famous. By that date, Bush had long since gone to Alabama to work on a Senate campaign, and Lt. Col. William D. Harris wrote that "Lt. Bush has not been observed at this unit during the period of report. A civilian occupation made it necessary for him to move to Montgomery, Alabama. He cleared this base on 15 May 1972 and has been performing equivalent training in a non-flying status with the 187 Tac Recon Gp., Dannelly ANG Base, Alabama." Harris marked "Not Observed" in the boxes in which he was directed to grade Bush's performance.

What was less noticed about the report is that another Texas Air National Guard officer, Lt. Colonel Jerry B. Killian, wrote, "I concur with the comments of the reporting official" just below Harris' account. The document - with Killian's signature - was among a thick stack of papers from Bush's Air National Guard years released in February by the White House.

Now Killian himself is in the news. On Wednesday, CBS News released four previously undisclosed documents which it said were written by Killian, who died in 1984. One of them, dated August 18, 1973, refers to Killian's reluctance to evaluate Bush's performance. Suggesting that top Texas Air National Guard officers were putting pressure on him to "sugar coat" Bush's performance rating, Killian wrote, "Bush wasn't here during rating period and I don't have any feedback from 187th in Alabama. I will not rate."

But as the first document suggests, months before, Killian - and Harris - had quite decisively declined to rate Bush's performance. If Killian was under pressure to "sugar coat" Bush's performance, he had certainly not yielded to it. Nor had anyone else "sugar coated" the Bush evaluation.
By the date the documents claim that Killian was under pressure to write a positive review, he had already issued a review saying that he was not able to rate Bush. With this contradictory assessment already in the records, what good would a "sugar-coated" review do?