Thursday, September 09, 2004
Stunningly jaw-dropping: No, it's not one of those made-up critics quotes for the next Hollywood blockbuster, rather it is the media's coverage of President Bush's service in the Air National Guard.
Let's ignore the fact that the mainstream media dismisses the Swift Boat Vets for Truth as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Bush campaign, yet 60 Minutes II devotes primetime coverage to a Texas politician who claims he pulled strings for President Bush 30 years ago and today has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Sen. John Kerry.
Newsweek's Evan Thomas claimed several weeks ago that the news media supports John Kerry and that support was good for 15 points in the polls. The media is good for 15 points and millions of dollars in free advertising.
I don't know exactly when this story broke, but the Drudge Report is pointing to this CNSNews.com report that raises questions about some of the documents from the "personal files" of Bush's former squadron commander Jerry B. Killian. (Killian died in 1984 and it's unclear who exactly provided the documents.) In short, it appears that the Air National Guard was way ahead of its time -- using Microsoft Word to create official documents while Bill Gates was still in high school.
Drudge also linked to the guys over at Powerline -- bringing their Web server to its knees.
Charles Johnston over at Little Green Footballs has also done some minimal testing and discovered that there is little doubt these supposedly damning documents were forged.
I opened Microsoft Word, set the font to Microsoft’s Times New Roman, tabbed over to the default tab stop to enter the date “18 August 1973,” then typed the rest of the document purportedly from the personal records of the late Lieutenant Colonel Jerry B. Killian.
And my Microsoft Word version, typed in 2004, is an exact match for the documents trumpeted by CBS News as “authentic.”
The spacing is not just similar—it is identical in every respect. Notice that the date lines up perfectly, all the line breaks are in the same places, all letters line up with the same letters above and below, and the kerning is exactly the same. And I did not change a single thing from Word’s defaults; margins, type size, tab stops, etc. are all using the default settings.
Johnston is a Web designer and therefore has some credibility when talking about typographical issues such as kerning, etc. I'm a page designer for a newspaper and have worked on newspaper redesigns, so I'm also familiar typography -- Johnston is right. These documents are modern-day creations.
In these days of the 24-hour news cycle, it shouldn't take that long for the all-news networks to run a correction. As of right now, it appears as though none has. CNN's "Inside Politics" has just repeated the story.
This is going to be a big black eye for the media. Too good to check? Apparently so. The mainstream media -- especially the big three networks -- have a much higher standard for anti-Kerry stories than they do for anti-Bush ones.
*UPDATE* The INDC Journal contacted a forensic document expert and he estimates that the odds these documents are forgeries are "at least 90 percent."
Also, for now, CBS is standing behind this story.
*UPDATE* The "nonpartisan" Annenberg Factcheck.org has updated its piece on Bush's guard service citing the aforementioned fraudulent documents. Hopefully another update will be forthcoming tomorrow.
*UPDATE 2* The good Captain has a report from Killian's son, himself a National Guard officer, who says that the family didn't provide them and his father wouldn't have written those sorts of things.
*UPDATE 3* World Net Daily got a response from CBS's flack which is truly odd.
Later, however, she sent an e-mail to WND, adding, "CBS verified the authenticity of the documents by talking to individuals who had seen the documents at the time they were written. These individuals were close associates of [Bush commander] Colonel Jerry Killian and confirm that the documents reflect his opinions at the time the documents were written."
So, were these people channeling the late commander Killian? Spirit writing or whatever it's called?