September 11, 2004


Via the Associated Press: "Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin had a strong reaction to newly released records about President George W. Bush's service in the Texas National Guard."

Harkin wasn’t alone. Following a day of brilliant forgery revelations, last night Powerline wrote:

Tomorrow morning, dinosaur media across the country will be headlining the 60 Minutes "scoop" as a blow to the Bush campaign.

Sure got that right, although much of the dinosauratariat did, in fact, end up paying attention. More on media reaction later; for now, back to Powerline:

Before their newspapers are even printed, not only is the story obsolete, but CBS is in full retreat. As Stephen Hayes reported earlier today, Power Line "led the charge" against the 60 Minutes hoax today. But the credit really goes to the incredible power of the internet. We knew nothing; all of our information came from our readers. Many thousands of smart, well-informed people who only a few years ago would have had no recourse but perhaps to write a letter to their local newspaper, now can communicate and share their expertise in real time, through sites like this one. The power of the medium is incredible, as we've seen over the last fourteen hours.

Just fourteen hours. In which time this Guardian headline, above a piece by Sidney Blumenthal on the faked-up Bush documents, became a modern classic in the tradition of "Dewey Defeats Truman":

Now it's Bush's turn to squirm

Imagine the squirming currently underway at Sid’s place. Imagine him recalling lines like these -- "Evidence of the president's fudged war record emerged in time to undermine the Republicans' triumphal march" -- and writhing like a sack of stupid eels. Yo, eely Sid! Enjoy John Podhoretz:

From the lies of Ben Barnes to the apparent forgeries of who-knows-who-did-it — why has "60 Minutes" exposed itself in this way?

We all know why. Its producers and others in the media think George Bush deserves to be beaten up now because of the beating administered to John Kerry in August. In some weird way, the editors and producers believe this is fairness at work.

Instead, they have unmasked themselves. Or rather, they have been unmasked by ordinary people who can see what they and their hired experts evidently could not.

As Paul Krugman says: "It's the dishonesty, stupid." Except Krugman isn’t talking about 60 Minutes or the rest of the reliably incompetent media; he’s talking about Bush. Assume he’s hammering on the press, however, and Krugman almost sounds reasonable:

It's the same pattern of dishonesty, this time involving personal matters that the public can easily understand.

Indeed. Them common peoples, they knows their fonts and such! The LA Times decided -- maybe it was an in-joke -- to invoke memories of last week’s Bush-didn’t-stop-the-booing lie:

The president's representatives did not join in the complaints that the Killian memos were faked, but did not discourage such speculation by the media.

Consider the mentality of someone who imagines that the "president’s representatives" have the power to "discourage speculation". Meanwhile the Sherlocks at were engaging in some expert counter-speculation:

The media is buzzing with the possibility that the Killian memos broadcast on 60 Minutes are forgeries. The truth hangs on whether any commonly-used typewriters in the 60's-70's had proportional spacing. If you HAVE a typewriter like that, please type out a replica of Killian's first memo and see if your typewriter matches his.

While you’re at it, go look in the attic for John Kerry’s Magic Hat (note to Dave Barry: great name for a band or what?). Is it possible to feel sorry for Terry McAuliffe? No, of course not, not even after this:

Responding to breaking news regarding George W. Bush's military record, Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe issued this statement:

"George W. Bush's cover story on his National Guard service is rapidly unraveling."

Take a look, Terry. Scroll down to post 47. That’s where your unraveling began. And it continues here, here, here, here, here, and here. Last word to James Lileks:

Blogs haven’t toppled old media. The foundations of Old Media were rotten already. The new media came along at the right time. Put it this way: you’ve see films of old buildings detonated by precision demolitionists. First you see the puffs of smoke – then the building just hangs there for a second, even though every column that held it up has been severed. We’ve been living in that second for years, waiting for the next frame. Well, here it is. Roll tape. Down she goes.

UPDATE. Dan makes his stand:

DAN RATHER, CBS NEWS ANCHOR: I know that this story is true. I believe that the witnesses and the documents are authentic. We wouldn't have gone to air if they would not have been. There isn't going to be -- there's no -- what you're saying apology?

QUESTION: Apology or any kind of retraction or...

RATHER: Not even discussed, nor should it be. I want to make clear to you, I want to make clear to you if I have not made clear to you, that this story is true, and that more important questions than how we got the story, which is where those who don't like the story like to put the emphasis, the more important question is what are the answers to the questions raised in the story, which I just gave you earlier.

Squirm on, squirmboy.

UPDATE II. “Rather is more nervous than a rented mule on Arbor Day,” writes Jim Treacher. Which makes as much sense as the counter-arguments emerging from Daily Kos. The OmbudsGod presents an overview of their doomed position:

The Daily Kos asserts “TANG Typewriter Follies; Wingnuts Wrong.” Implicit in their argument is that LTC Killian was using a highly specialized IBM "Selectric" Composer to type his memos.

Right. Like you'd use such a device to write memos to yourself. Former IBM engineer Bill Rouse e-mails:

Tim, I worked for IBM from 1967 to 2003 in Field Engineering -- we maintained Computers and their associated input/output devices. Modified Selectric typewriters were used by operators to enter commands and respond to system messages and Selectrics were also used on communication terminals. These typewriters were never intended to have pretty fonts and typesetting qualities. Office Products Division worked on office machines -- typewriters (typebar and Selectrics) and dictation equipment. There was a Selectric model called a Composer. It was used to prepare text for photo typesetting, it had all the bells and whistles: propotional spacing, justified right margin etc -- very expensive machine for its time. Regular Selectrics were mechanically complex, but the Composer was orders of magnitude fiendishly complex ( I am thankful I didn't have to work on that monster.)

LGF, et al. has it right -- those "documents" are a fraud.

Posted by Tim Blair at September 11, 2004 02:24 AM

This is our chance to shine.

Whereas CBS apparently thought this stuff was "too good to check," and so reproduced it without question, maybe we can do some real work.

No, DU, it's not whether someone typing veeeerrrry carefully can reproduce the alleged Killian memo. No, it should be a simple matter to produce ("produce," not "reproduce", people) reams and reams of similar memos from the '70's. Bring 'em on!

Posted by: Brian Jones at September 11, 2004 at 02:57 AM

Man, anyone who's read accounts of the Mormon forger knows to what extreme lengths he went to ensure that his documents passed all manner of tests by the experts. And the Mormon forger was big news in the US, because he murdered two people and blackmailed the Mormon church. You mean to say MSM has such a short memory they could be hoodwinked so easily, when they covered the Mormon forger's case so thoroughly?

Goldfish memories. And they expect us to have the same.

Posted by: ushie at September 11, 2004 at 03:32 AM

Well the good news for Kerry is that after the dust settles he will likely be eligible for another purple heart.

Posted by: Sean at September 11, 2004 at 04:20 AM

Powerline has just posted that Rather told CNN today that he is STANDING BY the authenticity of the docs. No investigation, no retraction, no apologies. Wow.

Posted by: c at September 11, 2004 at 04:24 AM

"Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin had a strong reaction to newly released records about President George W. Bush's service in the Texas National Guard."

Isn't this the same Harkin who lied about being a fighter pilot in Vietnam? Sheesh.

Posted by: Bruce Rheinstein at September 11, 2004 at 04:24 AM

Powerline has just posted that Rather told CNN today that he is STANDING BY the authenticity of the docs. No investigation, no retraction, no apologies. Wow.

Powerline also thinks that the reason Rather is putting his neck on the line is that HE is the one who got hold of these documents and pushed CBS to run with the story. Rather has no choice now but to stick with his story to the bitter end because if the documents are phony he's screwed.

Sounds about right to me.

Posted by: Randal Robinson at September 11, 2004 at 04:37 AM

Just to share an observance from a post-op Major Dad, who, even in his percocet laced state, is always thinking clearly when it's military:

Thinking about it, a LtCol gives a Lt a direct order, the little snuffy blows him off and all the LtCol can do is write whiney notes to himself? (And a typewritten not handwritten one at that?) That doesn't happen. If he missed his flight phys., he'd be suspended automatically. And if he disobeyed a direct order from his Commanding Officer (i.e. the memo sig~commander? what's with that sh*t?), why is there no reprimand or more punitive action? Lt's don't get away with squat, it doesn't matter who their daddy is. A LtCol is the master of his domain at a squadron. Obviously he got good Fitness Reports (FITREPS) and an Honorable Discharge. These memos disparage the deceased LtCol, portraying him as a weak leader, with no spine. Do the memos authors realize that's what they convey?

Posted by: tree hugging sister at September 11, 2004 at 05:17 AM

Time to join the Dan Rather Career Deathwatch. (Start at that post and scroll down.)

Posted by: Andrea Harris at September 11, 2004 at 05:20 AM

Magic Hat is an excellent microbrewery in South Burlington, VT, USA. Perhaps John Kerry's been crying in a few of their beers.

Posted by: Jon Bass at September 11, 2004 at 05:26 AM

"John Kerry’s Magic Hat (note to Dave Barry: great name for a band or what?"
Yeah, about the right era, too... c.a. 1969-72 bubblegum rock (Strawberry Alarm Clock) or psychadelic (Small Faces).
Damn you Blair, I thought I'd buried those memories!

Posted by: Old Grouch at September 11, 2004 at 05:37 AM

This is obviously a dastardly dirty trick by Bush: Planting forged documents with the Kerry camp, knowing they'd be passed on to CBS. Only question is... how does such a dumb guy as Bush keep outsmarting the anointed elite?

Posted by: nofixedabode at September 11, 2004 at 05:39 AM

The LLL is is now trying to spin this story in another direction, claiming if the documents are forgeries then they must have been planted by Karl Rove.

Damn, both Genius and Evil. Screw Bush! I want to see a Cheney/Rove ticket.

Posted by: Joe Bagadonuts at September 11, 2004 at 05:41 AM

Leave it to people like Blumenthal and Krugman and Rather to think they had finally found THE story to bring down Dubya - a story that virtually no one in the US gave a single solitary crap about in the first place - only to see it blow up in their faces.

I've never seen a bunch of flaming pacifist liberals get so geeked up about military service.

Posted by: Steve in Houston at September 11, 2004 at 05:43 AM

mrs bingley pointed out the the MSM are exactly like academics, in that only they have the knowledge to speak for us unwashed types and they will tolerate no criticism.

Posted by: Mr. Bingley at September 11, 2004 at 05:54 AM

Damn you Blair, I thought I'd buried those memories!

If you remember the '60s, you obviously weren't there.

And another question on the memos - why have we only seen crappy reproductions that have been copied a dozen times? Does that sound like something that you would do with your personal files? Where are the originals?

Posted by: R C Dean at September 11, 2004 at 05:56 AM

Where are the originals?

They're probably saved in the My Documents file on the hard drive of the master forgerer who was too damn lazy to even pick up an old typewriter for the job.

Posted by: Randal Robinson at September 11, 2004 at 06:07 AM

Tree Hugging Sister! The author of that memo doesn't give a rip about the memory of that officer or anything military!!!! These are the same people who were just waiting for the death count to reach 1000!! He was just another baby killer. Geez!

Posted by: YoJimbo at September 11, 2004 at 07:03 AM

And it's going to get worse the closer we get. Like I said over at Charles Austin's blog: Lie, cheat, steal, murder? It's all good so long as Bush is gone. This is a pathology. Expect Photoshoped pics of Prescott Bush shaking hands with Hitler, and recut tapes of Bush praising Saddam before November.

Posted by: Syd Barret at September 11, 2004 at 07:34 AM

I wonder if Rather realises that, in the real world, forged documents don't raise questions.

Well, not about the thing they refer to, at any rate - they do raise questions about his and CBS' competence.

Posted by: Sigivald at September 11, 2004 at 07:44 AM

If they have the original documents - just take a sample of the ink on the page, send it for analysis and bingo - you should be able to tell if it is computer ink or 30 year old typewriter ink yes?

Analysis of the spots of moisture on the pages will no doubt show them to be week old tears from Dan Rathers.

Posted by: Rob at September 11, 2004 at 08:34 AM

Rather is more nervous than a rented mule on Arbor Day (or whatever Ratherism you want to come up with that couldn't be as weird as the shit he actually does come up with).

Posted by: Jim Treacher at September 11, 2004 at 09:20 AM

Joel over at Calblog ( came to an interesting conclusion while parsing Rather's statement:

"I KNOW that this story is true. I BELIEVE that the witnesses and the documents are authentic." (emphasis added)

As Joel notes, this sounds like a tacit admission by Rather that he can't authenticate the memo.

Posted by: Sean at September 11, 2004 at 09:43 AM

Well I guess it would be nice
To verify the memo
You know not every memo
Has got the kerning like this do...

Gotta have faith-a-faith-a-faith!

Posted by: Jim Treacher at September 11, 2004 at 09:52 AM


Dan Blather blustered and media cred died.

RIP old media.

Posted by: c at September 11, 2004 at 09:59 AM

Just heard Dan Rather say on the evening news that they are not forgeries because he knows they are not, take that, all you naysayers!

Posted by: rinardman at September 11, 2004 at 10:08 AM

I am enjoying following this story as it unfolds on various blogs. When the authenticity of the documents started to be questioned it became like an interactive story developed on the web by several blogs.

Some posters knew all about fonts, typewriters, and typesetting and the differences between documents produced on a computer vs. documents produced on a typewriter circa 1970. Others knew about style sheets governing how military documents had to be written AND how the styles changed over the years (even the size of the paper used by the military).

So many arcane, for me, bits of information all contributed on various blogs by people examining the documents. It was, and still is, fascinating to see it all come together. There are still a lot of unanswered questions so it's something to follow and see what else gets uncovered.

If anyone visited one of the anti-Bush blogs it was fun watching the implosions. I do hope some of them calm down. Some were raging so much you could imagine flecks of foam on their screens.

Theories as to who is behind the forgeries range from Bush and the RNC to the Clintons and even the MSM (US' ABC trying to discredit CBS). I hope the forger is uncovered, it's too good a mystery to just let it drop and never know.

Best comment I read was in a thread about the MSM possibly learning a lesson and changing. A poster chimed in and said the lesson learned by the MSM will be: NEVER release documents to the public.

I wonder if there are any lawsuits that will be filed, because of this, against CBS? The family of the documents' supposed author claim he never wrote them and they are extremely upset.

Posted by: Chris Josephson at September 11, 2004 at 10:12 AM

Oh, and at the end of the broadcast, a janitor had to come in and mop up the excess indignation that was clearly oozing from Rather's every pore!

Posted by: rinardman at September 11, 2004 at 10:12 AM

I notice that Rather still didn't name the "experts" who he claims verified the documents.

Is this because his "experts" don't exist?

Posted by: EvilPundit at September 11, 2004 at 10:35 AM

Some posters knew all about fonts, typewriters, and typesetting and the differences between documents produced on a computer vs. documents produced on a typewriter circa 1970. Others knew about style sheets governing how military documents had to be written AND how the styles changed over the years (even the size of the paper used by the military).

It was a collaborative effort that would make communists or multilateralists cry with joy.

Posted by: Andjam at September 11, 2004 at 10:51 AM

I am enjoying the unravelling of CBS and Dan Rather over this issue.I am hopeful that something similar could happen about our ABC in Australia.Particularly David Marr of media watch.Nothing would give me greater joy than to see him get his comeuppance.

Posted by: gubbaboy at September 11, 2004 at 12:07 PM

Dan gotta be one dum bunny.How come this stuff is just turning up now.

Posted by: Le clerc at September 11, 2004 at 01:07 PM

Here's what John Kerry should worry about.

Posted by: themarkman at September 11, 2004 at 01:09 PM

I was watching O'Reilly Factor with guest host Tony Snow. He had Stephen Hayes from the Weekly Standard and some former CBS/60 Minutes employee discussing the forgery. Bottom-line position of the former CBS employee is that the journolists/producers involved are top-notch investigative reporters, and that 60 Minutes has fact checkers and layers of verification unlike, and I quote (approximately), *someone on the internet sitting at home in his pajamas.* Therefore, he believes Dan Rather and hihs producers. It took awhile to get there, but the man's arrogance about the old media came shining through.

Posted by: Polly at September 11, 2004 at 01:11 PM

Polly, I saw that same Fox News segment and it was simply ridiculous to me. It was perhaps the only TV-news item I've seen on this story, and coming off of a day and a half of online investigation or whatever you would call it, that segment advanced nothing. Nothing. It did show the CBS guy to be an arrogant old-media diehard bigot, but it was totally lacking in the incredible detail I was able to get off the Internet. Plus I was able to contribute here and there. The feedback was great. You post something, bam, there was someone else with a great point. It was (and still is) a great moment in blogdom/Internet history.

Posted by: Brent at September 11, 2004 at 02:02 PM

The academics weigh in with their vast intellect and informative commentary:

"Blogs have been characterized as places where people just go to mouth off, but what this brings out is the ability of blogs to actually help report a story," said Paul Grabowitz, professor of new media at the University of California at Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism.

How would we know anything without academics?

Posted by: ilibcc at September 11, 2004 at 02:40 PM

It's now pretty clear that the documents are fake. The blogosphere now needs to "get its pyjamas on" and find out who is behind the forgeries. What did Kerry know, and when did he know it?

Posted by: George at September 11, 2004 at 02:54 PM

With respect the to the source of CBS’s forge documents, the DNC’s Terry McAuliffe states: “No one at the DNC had relations with that word processing software, Microsoft Word, not once, not ever. The DNC has to get back to the business doing the people’s work!”

Posted by: perfectsense at September 11, 2004 at 03:03 PM

[NOT A THREAT OF VIOLENCE]In a perfect world, Rather would already be chained to a boiler and clobbered with scrap wood.[/NOT A THREAT OF VIOLENCE] Darryl Hammond must be pissed that he can't do his Rather impersonation on national TV tomorrow night. Wouldn't that be fun.

Posted by: Jim Treacher at September 11, 2004 at 03:17 PM

You've all missed the point: this is a work of genius by the Kerry Campaign! It has completely wiped the Swiftvets off the radar screen!!!!

Posted by: Richard Blaine at September 11, 2004 at 04:24 PM

Richard does have a point. I wonder if that was the real purpose of this "memo." Well -- in that case, we here in the Pajamasphere will simply have to get on the ball.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at September 12, 2004 at 01:23 AM