Saturday, November 12, 2005
Alternate reality land: Let me start out by saying that any journalist -- or anyone else for that matter -- who uses "meshing" as a way to determine whether any document is authentic or not should be cast out into the wilderness to the sound of the rending of garmets and the gnashing of teeth.
Yet, former CBS news producer Mary Mapes continues to make the rounds on just about every cable TV show -- I guess it's a good thing that CBS doesn't have a cable TV network -- touting her book "I'm a blinkered partisan loony." (I may have the title wrong.)
We've come a long way from the days of Janet Cooke, the Washington Post reporter who won a Pulitzer Prize for her series of articles on a 9-year-old drug addict. The kid never existed. The Post ended up returning the Pulitzer and Cooke disappeared quietly into anonymity. Today, a disgraced journalist gets a six-figure book deal and appears on TV more often than those annoying Ditech.com comercials.
If you're interested, you can read this transcript of a Washington Post Web chat with Mapes.
We are getting some interesting information out of Mapes, but no one seems to be latching on to it yet, because Mapes hasn't produced what she claims to have.
Cincinnati, Ohio: The CBS memos appear to have been created in Microsoft Word. I've heard you recently say that the documents could not have been created in Microsoft Word. Can you explain?
Mary Mapes: The key is that they APPEAR to have been created in Word. That is a parlor trick that doesn't bear close scrutiny. We are preparing two things on the Web site truthandduty.com which will illustrate this fallacy. One is a comparison between the memos' font and Times New Roman, which was used to supposedly recreate the Word version of the memos. The other bit of evidence is a new exhaustive analysis that shows through wer [sic] on the letters that these memos were types not laser printed.
Yeah, typing bolshevik storytelling into Word is a "parlor trick." I don't think so.
Of course, neither of these documents have appeared on Mapes' site yet. However, she has managed to put up all of the other fraudulent documents that "meshed" with her preconceived storyline.
Earlier this week, in an interview on CNN's "Situation Room," Mapes also claimed to have acquired a document from 1969 from the Texas Air National Guard that featured proportional spacing.
I do in the book, and I don't know if Howard [Kurtz] has read the entire book, because the last chapter is devoted to this. I did, through a researcher, get a number of new documents that absolutely blow out of the water the kinds of charges that Howard and others used to attack these documents in the first place. The primary considerations that people went for when they were criticizing these things are proportional spacing in the documents. People who said that that did not exist in 1971-72...
Let me stop her there before she goes any farther. No one who has criticized the forged documents has claimed that proportional spacing didn't exist back then. Experts have pointed out that it was uncommon, expensive and typically limited to professional publishers. IBM made a typewriter called the Selectric Composer that could do proportional spacing, but to get that effect, you had to type in each line twice and perfectly. The first time through the machine would figure out what the spacing needed to be and the second time it would actually put those words to paper. Despite being prohibitively expensive equipment for the National Guard (the Composer cost upwards of $3,600 back in 1972) what nut is going to go through all that work for "CYA" memos? This also ignores the fact that the person who would've typed these memos, Marian Carr Knox, identified the typewriters that she used during her time as a secretary at the Guard as a mechanical Olympia typewriter and an IBM Selectric. Add to that the fact that no one has actually been able to come up with any typewriter that can accurately reproduce any of the fraudulent documents (but Microsoft Word works just fine.)
Back to Mapes:
I now have a document here from 1969, from the Texas Air National Guard headquarters in Austin, that has proportional spacing. And I also have lots of documentary evidence that this existed.
Well, as I pointed out before, these documents aren't up on her Web site yet and I'm sure I'll get a good laugh when she puts them up. Maybe we'll have to put Dr. Newcomer back to work, but another go with Word may be all we really require.