Tuesday, September 14, 2004
CBS' forged documents: Hoystory will not refer to this scandal as others have -- by using CBS newsman Dan Rather's surname and appending "-gate" -- because the construction is contrived, overdone and annoying.
Now that I've gotten that out of the way, the only people left who believe these documents are genuine are the Kool Aid drinkers on the left and Dan Rather. (Tuesday's Washington Post article is particularly devastating to CBS' credibility.) Ratherbiased.com has a transcript at Monday night's sad attempt at denial on the CBS Evening News. There was one item in the CBS report that had me scratching my head.
RATHER: Richard Katz, a software designer found other indications in the documents. He noticed the lower case l is used in documents instead of the actual numeral one. That would be difficult to reproduce on the computer today.
Katz: If you were doing this a week ago or a month ago on a normal laser jet printer, it wouldn't work. The font wouldn't be available to you.
Huh? It's difficult to use a lowercase "l" on a computer instead of a "1"? It wouldn't work?
Last week the argument was that a hand-me-down typewriter in a Texas Air National Guard office somehow was able to duplicate 21st century computer technology -- and now we're being told that 21st century computer technology can't duplicate what a decades-old typewriter could do? (If someone can explain to me exactly what this guy is trying to say, I'd appreciate it.)
Katz is described as a software designer by Rather -- it turns out that his claim to expert status is because he used to repair typewriters. As one Little Green Footballs poster noted: If you know how to sharpen pencils, then CBS news would consider you qualified to be a handwriting analyst.
If I'm picking experts, I'll take Joseph Newcomber over Katz any day of the week -- and twice on Sundays.
The probability that any technology in existence in 1972 would be capable of producing a document that is nearly pixel-compatible with Microsoft’s Times New Roman font and the formatting of Microsoft Word, and that such technology was in casual use at the Texas Air National Guard, is so vanishingly small as to be indistinguishable from zero.
Yeah, and that's the point Rather's been missing. Was the technology available? Yes. But it wasn't something that some non-typist Air National Guard Lt. Col. would be jotting memos to file on. The typewriter that comes closest (and it's not very close) to duplicating the CBS memos cost as much as a brand new car back in the early '70s -- not something that the military would be providing to some National Guard unit for everyday chores.
This story is no longer about the documents -- it's about CBS News' reaction to it. If you were to imagine the worst possible way that CBS could respond to this crisis, they're following it perfectly.
Dan Rather and his CBS News colleagues are acting as if they are a political campaign, protecting the "candidate" at all costs. CBS News is supposed to be interested in giving the American people the truth, instead its quit journalism to practice propaganda for the Democrats.
I'm curious to see what will come of this kerfuffle. As each day passes with CBS standing behind the fraudulent memos, its penance will be greater. Will Rather be forced into early retirement? It certainly wouldn't hurt when CBS finally decides that it has hurt its credibility enough. But Rather alone probably won't be enough, expect others to also be shown the door when the time comes.
I'm no fan of the mainstream media -- even though I am ostensibly a part of it -- but as a journalist you don't like to see the profession destroy itself this way. The media needs to undergo a change, and this is painful to watch, but hopefully professional journalism will improve in the end.
*UPDATE* I erroneously identified Katz as having been a typewriter repairman. It was actually CBS News' other "expert," Bill Glennon, who had that claim to fame. It should be noted that neither of these "experts" is a forensic document examiner.