September 16, 2004


LGF commenter Maria makes a good point:

CBS is trying to discredit those who question their forged memo as just 'bloggers' yet they go out [and] get a blogger poster as their expert.

That is sooo crazy.

Correction, Maria; it’s sooo CBS. By now, about the only person who still believes Dan Rather’s typewriter tale was born in 1931, lives on the Upper West Side, works at CBS, and is named Dan Rather. But CBS news boss Bob Schieffer seems to think we’d all be convinced if only the network could reveal its sources:

"I think we have to find some way to show our viewers they are not forgeries,'' Schieffer, CBS' chief Washington correspondent and host of the network's "Face the Nation,'' said at a news conference in Sioux City. "I don't know how we're going to do that without violating the confidentiality of sources.''

CBS has stood by its story, with Rather saying there is "no definitive evidence'' that has emeged to prove the documents are fake.

"He is very confident of his sources,'' said Schieffer, who has talked to Rather daily during the flap. "He says he is absolutely convinced these documents are real.''

We know that the source isn’t the alleged author of the memos, Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, who died in 1984. Who might the source be, then, who would somehow make us all believe that the memos are genuine? Let’s assume it's Wally J. Unimpeachable, the world’s most loved and trusted man, with a history of decency and honour unmatched in global history. Imagine him appearing at a press conference to vouch for the memos:

Mr. Unimpeachable: Ladies and gentlemen of the press, thank you for the opportunity to finally put to rest this terrible Memogate business. Let me assure you, as the source of these documents, that they are genuine; that they were written in 1972 and 1973 by Jerry Killian; and that they are wholly accurate and true.

Journalist: Then how come they’re written in Microsoft Word, you lying bastard?

At which point a ravening press horde, clad in pajamas as a symbol of solidarity with the unjustly-maligned blogging community, advances on Unimpeachable and beats him comatose. Memo (genuine) to Schieffer: no matter what source CBS throws up, you can’t avoid the central issue here. The Killian memos are fake. Sources are useless when you’re defending something that doesn’t pass the eyeball test.

Sources are deeply fascinating, however, when you consider the political implications. See below.

Posted by Tim Blair at September 16, 2004 02:51 AM

For the record, I had nothing to do with these memos, and I am insulted that Tim would imply that such a vile and disgusting act could possibly be attributed to me.

It was Karl Rove.

Posted by: Wally J. Unimpeachable at September 16, 2004 at 03:00 AM

I would love to see that interview.

Posted by: MD2020 at September 16, 2004 at 03:05 AM

does glenn reynolds have black pajamas like pol pot?

Posted by: Mr. Bingley at September 16, 2004 at 03:33 AM

Wally J. Unimpeachable has never steered me wrong before so if he says Microsoft Word was around in 1973 then I believe him. That's just how much I love and trust the guy.

Posted by: Randal Robinson at September 16, 2004 at 03:38 AM

Sure the memo is genuine. If by "genuine" you mean "exists as a piece of paper with printed characters on it." I'll bet you that is the approach they are taking. Remember, this is the side that tried to bog down an impeachment trial by going into a philosophical discussion of the definition of "is."

Posted by: Andrea Harris at September 16, 2004 at 03:45 AM

Tim, it's time for a new poll. Who's behind the faked memos? Suggested choices:

1) Democrats

2) Republicans

3) Ralph Nader

4) MoveOn

5) Hillary Clinton

6) CBS

7) Osama bin Laden

8) The Joooo--er, "neocons"

9) Time travellers from the future

The last one's my personal theory. Add your own! It's fun!

Posted by: Angie Schultz at September 16, 2004 at 04:26 AM

CBS was supposed to release a statement two hours ago. I wonder what the holdup is?

"Goddammit! This ribbon just went dry! Schieffer, send an intern out to find me a new one!... Whattaya mean, he doesn't know what a ribbon is?! Goddamn these little punks!"

Posted by: Dave S. at September 16, 2004 at 05:23 AM

This might be a little too serious an answer, but I think it is likely the memos started as a prank. No real memo-to-file would have as a subject line "CYA," but that would be almost irresistable to first year law lawyers and interns

Posted by: vidkun at September 16, 2004 at 05:26 AM

9) Time travellers from the future

Oh, yeah. Like a time traveller would be caught dead using Word. Besides, they don't even have Times New Roman in the future. After this, it's abandoned and MSFT makes Wingdings the universal standard.

Posted by: Robert Crawford at September 16, 2004 at 08:22 AM

I find it pretty amusing that CBS is adamantly trying to adopt a stance of political neutrality when these are the same people who paid to have the WACO FLIR tapes analyzed and then killed the segment when the results were found to be damaging to the Clinton Administration.

I guess "objectivity" is in the eye of the beholder...

Posted by: Cletus Nelson at September 16, 2004 at 11:52 AM

"9) Time travellers from the future"

It's definitely Dr Who! He can find anything. Like a typewriter for instance.

Posted by: Lofty at September 16, 2004 at 04:22 PM

What do journos do when they have a story they believe in, and then the evidence they held out goes sour?

Maybe CBS believes their story still has merit. Surely a mea culpa is warranted on the forged memos, irrespective of whether they still wish to pursue their story?

IMHO, saying the memos are "accurate" (instead of "authentic") is a dishonest way of saying - faked evidence is ok as long you believe it is true. That sounds too much like the Micheal Moore school of journalism to me.

Posted by: madison at September 16, 2004 at 04:47 PM