The gift that keeps on giving

I refer, of course, to Dan Rather and his faked documents about George Bush’s National Guard service. Dan Rather is trying to promote the idea that the documents were never proven to be false, and NPR is happy to be of service in his endeavor. (Via LGF.)

It’s complete nonsense. The documents were shown to be bogus in a variety of ways, most obviously by the typography, but also by formatting and content. Although it has been suggested that typewriters existed that could have produced documents somewhat like the Rather memos (this is disputed), and Killian (the purported author) might even have had access to such a machine, it beggars belief that Killian would have used such a machine to produce a typeset-quality memo to file that no one was ever supposed to see. (Never mind that Killian’s family asserts he never wrote such memos in the first place.)

But even if we suppose that Killian might have used such a machine capable of kerning and superscripts, it has never been plausibly suggested that he would have (or even could have) used it in a manner that precisely matched Microsoft Word’s default settings:


Neither let us suppose that suppose that Rather (the hero of NPR’s story) was an innocent dupe in the affair. For example, Rather endorsed CBS’s claim that the documents were obtained from an unimpeachable source (pdf, pages 164-166). In fact, as Rather well knew, the documents were obtained from a man named Bill Burkett, who is (to put it delicately) a nutcase.

Moreover, let’s not suppose that the whole affair resulted simply from overzealous pursuit of a big story; it was clearly an attempt to influence the election. CBS agreed to Burkett’s demand to coordinate the story with John Kerry’s campaign. (See also the Thornburgh report pages 64-65.)

POSTSCRIPT: The Rathergate affair transpired before I started this blog, so I want to thank Rather for reviving it and giving me a chance to play. NPR, on the other hand, should be ashamed of themselves.

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