September 13, 2004

CBS, Realizing It's In A Hole, Starts Digging Faster

Following is a transcript of part of a story on tonight's CBS Evening News about those pesky forgeriesdocuments:

RATHER: There's also been criticism of the new documents obtained by 60 Minutes and CBS News, but CBS used several techniques to make sure these papers should be taken seriously, talking to handwriting and document analysts and other experts who strongly insist that the documents could have been created in the '70s.

[Bill Glennon, 'Technical Consultant']: "Everthing that's in that docu-, those documents, that people are saying can't be done, as you said, 32 years ago is just totally false. Not true. Like I said, proportional spacing was available, sub-, superscripts was available was a custom feature, uh, proportional spacing between lines was available, you could order that any way you'd like."

Wow. And that was the take they kept. On camera much, Bill? But I nitpick.

CBS answers two questions and thinks they've dismissed everything. I don't think anybody doubts that there were machines in 1972 that could do proportional spacing and superscripts (never mind that none of the other TANG documents pertaining to 1LT Bush used proportional spacing and only one or two used superscripts), but there are so many other things wrong with the document that they'll have to do WAY better than that.

RATHER: Richard Katz, a software designer, found some other indications in the documents. He noted that the lowercase letter 'l' is used for the numeral '1' in those documents instead of the actual numeral '1.' That would be difficult to reproduce on a computer printer today.

[Richard Katz, 'Software Designer']: "If you were doing this a- a week ago, or a month ago, on a normal laserjet printer, it wouldn't work. You just couldn't, there just, the font wouldn't be available to you."
Wrong. In fact, both ones and ells were present in the document, which, if anything, makes it more likely that the alleged document was prepared in Word if you interpret Katz's nearly-incomprehensible remarks as meaning that many typewriters of the day didn't have a '1' key and used the 'l' instead. And recall this '1-challenged' machine would be the same uber-typewriter that could do proportional spacing, superscripts, and kerning.

RATHER: Katz also noted that the documents have both the so-called 'superscript' 'th' and a regular size 'th' that would be common on a typewriter, not a computer.

[Katz:] "There's one document from, uh, May of 1972, which contains a normal 'th' at the top. To produce that in Microsoft Word, you would have to go out of your way to type the letters and then turn the 'th' setting off or back over them and type them again."
Which, as you can see in the document, they actually did ("111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron").

And what the hell does he mean by saying superscript 'th' and regular size 'th' wouldn't be common on a computer?

RATHER: CBS News also relied on an analysis of the contents of the documents themselves to determine the contents' authenticity.
Then CBS needs to shit-can whoever did the content analysis, because the first thing I thought of when I saw the documents for the first time waaaaaaaay back on last Wednesday, even before "Hey, that looks like it was done in Word," was "No real light Colonel would write a memo that looked like that."

The new papers are in line with what is known about the President's service assignments and dates. For instance, the official record shows that Mr. Bush was suspended from flying on August 1, 1972. That date matches the one on a memo given to CBS News ordering Mr. Bush be suspended.
Translation: "This one fact (suspension date) lines up with something we know to be true, therefore the whole thing must be genuine."

Shortly after 60 Minutes broadcast the new documents last week, USA Today obtained another new document. In the memo dated February 2, 1972, COL Killian asked to be updated as soon as possible on flight certifications, specifically, Bush.

[graphic: "Update me as soon as possible on flight certifications. Specifically - ...Bush."]

That could be in line with what documents released by the White House last week showed - that in the spring of 1972, then-Lieutenant Bush stopped exclusively flying the F-102 and dropped back to piloting a training plane, part of an effort to maintain his flight certification.
What, exactly, does this have to do with anything?

CBS News asked the White House today to give direct answers to a number of questions:
o Did a friend of the Bush family use his influence with the then-Texas House Speaker to get George W. Bush into the [Air] National Guard?
o Did Lieutenant Bush refuse an order to take a required physical?
o Was he suspended for failing to perform up to standards?
o And did he complete his committment to the Guard?

In reply, a White House spokesman told CBS News today "As you know, we have repeatedly addressed these issues."

[Graphic: "As you know, we have repeatedly addressed these issues..."]

These direct questions have not been fully completely [sic] answered. The White House and the Bush/Cheney campaign always point out President Bush received an Honorable Discharge. What's in the 60 Minutes report, CBS News believes to be true, and believes the documents are authentic.

As the band played "Nearer My God To Thee." Or maybe "Autumn."

Posted by Chris at September 13, 2004 07:30 PM

Category: Media Stupidity

Hardly seems worth the fisking...they've pretty much outdone themselves this time.

Posted by: Da Goddess at September 13, 2004 08:41 PM

If those two "experts" are so sure, why don't they round up a typewriter and go claim the prize? That would make them extra bucks, as well as prove their point. Waiting...tic...tic...

Posted by: Dan at September 14, 2004 10:44 AM

yeah I think that we're in for an October Surprise: the Kerry campaign discovers that Microsoft Word was in fact in use at the TANG as early as 1970...

Posted by: chess h at September 15, 2004 07:33 AM