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Selectric Currents

New responses to the Rather debacle.

9.14.04

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DAN DOOMED
Re: The Washington Prowler's Here We Go Some More:

We're getting side-tracked here folks.

Everybody is focused on the authenticity of the memos, fonts, kerning, proportional spacing, typewriters versus word processors...

It is clear the memos are forgeries, we should be focused on the real issue.

Dan Rather and CBS News tried to influence the outcome of November election with falsehoods and forged documents.
-- Ian Forrest
An American in Spain

There are some other issues that seem to discredit, independently of any font or other layout issue, the late Lt. Col. Jerry's Killian's memos. For example, the unit is designated "111 F.I.S." or "111th F.I.S." The military doesn't use periods after those letters. Also, one date was given as 04 May 1972 and all years were either 1972 or 1973. Military convention would be 4 May 72 and for 1973, 73.

Ranks were incorrectly stated. The president's should've been 1LT, not 1st Lt. (The latter is what the Associated Press Stylebook suggests.) In the signature for his former commander Killian, what's given is "Lt. Colonel." Preference was LTC but it'd be unusual for "Lt. Colonel" to be used at all.

Even retired Lt. Col. Bill Burkett, of the Texas Air National Guard, who wrote "Lukasiak Study Proves Bush Was Legally AWOL" on Aug. 13 -- and which is published at democrat.com-identifies his rank as LTC and repeatedly uses 1LT when referring to the president and LTC when referring to Killian.

Also in the May 4, 1972, memo, what's given is "Commander." Preference was "Commanding."

Either the late Lt. Col. Killian ditched convention when he allegedly wrote the memos, or one of those crack journalists at 60 Minutes-and the entire Kerry campaign?-should learn to play "Taps."
-- C. Kenna Amos Jr.
Princeton, West Virginia

Just thought I'd check something out, and lo and behold, if I use M/S Word to write "111 th" -- leaving a space after the number, there is no superscripting of the "th." On the other hand, if I write the same number without the space, the "th" is reduced in size and superscripted. Interestingly, this is precisely what happened to the person who typed the 04-May-1972 memo.

I purchased in 1967 an IBM Executive typewriter with proportional spacing, and am very familiar with its operation. In order to center a line on the page (like the header of the 04-May-1972 memo), one has to measure the width of the script, then back off from center half that amount and begin typing. The width of the script must be measured by first typing each line left justified, then half-spacing over to the end of the longest line. Of course, this procedure is tedious enough to preclude anyone doing it unless it were terribly important. (In my case, I fully-justified my résumé at the time, so it was worth the extra hours.) With M/S Word, it's a simple command.

Swift Type Veterans for the Truth,
-- Rance Fasoldt

Concerning Prowler's reporting on sourcing of the forged TANG documents, there was mention of Sen. Harkin's "interest" in the forgeries. Didn't The American Spectator's reporting of the Anita Hill matter, and specifically the source of the Hill declaration which moved her allegations into the public realm, reveal that Sen. Harkin and Sen. Kennedy's staff on the Senate Labor Committee leaked that declaration? If so, it's an interesting parallel.
-- Fred Jacobsen

Couldn't someone find some other documents (memos) by Killian from the same time period, preferably very close in time to the Bush memo and compare fonts, superscripts etc. I'm sure someone is on this already (I hope).
-- Jorgen Salo

I am confused by the picking at the technical edges of the memo issue. Assume that there was a typewriter that could exactly produce the font in the memos (superscript and all). If that is the case then why do none of the other memos from that guard unit (and a military unit produces quite a bit of paper) not match the font?

There would have to be a typewriter that was only used for memos critical of Bush. All other paperwork was done on the rest of the typewriters including memos favorable to Bush.
-- Peter Lessels
Springfield, Vermont

The CBS debacle reminds me of the conversation between Dick Morris and Clinton when Morris told Clinton the ramifications of coming clean on the "Monica" affair (or some other scandal, there were so many take your pick) and Clinton said we will have to stonewall it or something to that effect. CBS has no other choice than "stonewall it" if it is to continue to delude itself that it has a reputation left and more importantly if it is going to have a role in trying to bring about the election of John Kerry.
-- Jack Wheatley

I hope you do not let the CBS Dan Rather story die. This could be better then Watergate. I enjoy your articles. I just found out about your magazine. I now have it book-marked.
-- Frank Spady

First, major kudos to TAS and the Prowler for your outstanding coverage of this astonishing meltdown at CBS. Your thorough analysis is inspiring -- you are doing the investigative reporting that certain supposedly responsible TV journalists are openly shirking.

Now, I have a separate, but related axe to grind. Of course it galls me that The Dan and company are able to mount a sloppily researched, fraudulently documented attack on the President for openly political purposes anytime they like. What nags me more at the moment, though, is that within 60 days of the election, I cannot buy a countering TV ad that says, "I'm a US citizen, and I believe what President Bush says about his record," without being arrested by the McCain-Feingold police. And neither can you.

Does this finally make it clear that this country's political system needs more political speech on TV, not less?

Now it wouldn't surprise me if the cheerleaders for campaign finance reform would react to this line of thinking by going the exact opposite way -- banning the news from covering political topics in the 60 days leading up to an election. In his partial dissent from the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the pointless, counterproductive CFR law, Justice Thomas points out that the door is now open for just that sort of an attack on the media.

Justice Scalia's wonderful, and typically clearheaded dissent is just over halfway through the doc -- it should be required reading for conservatives. And then comes this chilling warning from Justice Thomas (edited for brevity). The complete text of the opinion, and the dissents are here>

Now, supporters of such laws need only argue that the press' "capacity to manipulate popular opinion" gives rise to an "appearance of corruption," especially when this capacity is used to promote a particular candidate or party... Nor is there anything in the joint opinion that would prevent Congress from imposing the Fairness Doctrine, not just on radio and television broadcasters, but on the entire media... Hence, "the freedom of the press," described as "one of the greatest bulwarks of liberty," ... could be next on the chopping block. Although today's opinion does not expressly strip the press of First Amendment protection, there is no principle of law or logic that would prevent the application of the Court's reasoning in that setting. The press now operates at the whim of Congress.

Think about that. Isn't it easy to say that CBS has an overlarge "capacity to manipulate popular opinion", especially if they somehow succeed in getting their audience to look the other way when they brazenly betray the principles of honest journalism? It's simple to argue for an "appearance of corruption" when CBS won't or can't produce the original documents to support their allegations. And can any thinking person now doubt that CBS does "promote a particular candidate or party"? Surely it's time to expand CFR to include Big Media, right? Rather lies, and free speech dies?

No, of course not. But I find it enormously insulting that Congress passed CFR hoping the Senate wouldn't vote for it; the Senate voted for it, hoping the President wouldn't sign it; the President signed it, hoping the Supreme Court would invalidate it; and now that it's the law of the land, the President is calling for an end to the 527s, brought into existence by the same thoughtless law! Now, I love 96% of what W is doing, but this outrageous assault on free speech makes up about 3 of the other 4%.

Repeal McCain-Feingold! If Soros wants to waste a gazillion dollars trying to elect a dead fish, I say let him - as long as the Swifties can still do their thing, and I can still buy an ad that says "Vote Bush. I'm an American citizen, I live in a free country, and I approved this message."
-- Michael Hammond
Aurora, Illinois

I guess we should not be too surprised by Dan the Man going all out for the Democrats. I live in Florida, and I remember watching election night - when CBS and other MSM jumped on a Gore win -- even before the polls had closed in the Panhandle. And the CBS reaction to an attempt to poison a Presidential election -- "Nothin to see here, keep moving, keep moving, move right along.."
-- Steven Hess
Tampa, Florida

It has been many years since I've bothered to watch "60 Minutes," or indeed much television news at all, but before I kicked the habit it was obvious to me that "60 Minutes" had never done much of what an objective observer would call original news reporting.

As a former reporter for a local daily, I found that the program's MO for getting most of its material glaringly apparent: Researchers would find local stories that had already been fully reported and put to bed by local media, but that hadn't received national coverage. "60 Minutes" would then parachute a team into Possum Trot, Missouri, or wherever, read the newspaper files to gin up a script to be read by one of the talking heads, shoot some local-color footage over which to read the script, and film an interview or two with people who were already on the record. The whole mess would be assembled to sex-up a long-dead story into what was really intended as dramatic entertainment, with "60 Minutes" taking the credit and forgetting to mention the real legwork done by the locals.

Given this history, it doesn't surprise me the program staff quickly would be out of its depth in trying to do the original legwork necessary to nail down the Texas Guard documents. There simply isn't anybody on staff who knows how. The last 60 Minutes piece I remember was the famous Ed Bradley "mysterious self-accelerating Audi" story, which if memory serves had been spoon-fed CBS by some leftist "consumer" group. This of course turned out to be a case of incompetent drivers flooring the gas pedal when they wanted to slam on the brakes, but I don't recall CBS or 60 Minutes ever admitting error in that case. I'm not holding my breath on this one, nor am I expecting any of the super-antiquated 60 Minutes staff to finally be shipped off to the senile ward of the local old-folks home.
-- John Ortmann
Fort Collins, Colorado

Unless Rather can cough up those ORIGINALS for 'REAL' scientific testing by a crime lab using a good microscope and other lab test then all else is really just various experts commenting on PHOTOCOPIES! Test the rag content, the ink components, measure the paper size and compare it to the size of paper in the 1970s, and carbon date the DAMN THINGS!

A microscope would prove whether or not they were done with a ink jet or laser printer which floats/sprays the ink on the surface creating a RAISED letter Vs the embedded keystroke letters created by a typewriter. The dot matrix pattern would be totally different from 30 year old technology than what today's printers do, the ink for a typewriter ribbon would be different than what is used in today's computer printers.

A proficient typist would have a smooth pattern of keystrokes Vs. the uneven of a hunt and peck typist style that at best Lt. Col Killian would have done since he didn't know how to type. These would show up to a 'real' crime forensic expert quite easily. BUT you have to have the originals to do so!

Why hasn't an expert in forged documents been called in? Oh, I remember we are working off photocopies, how silly of me.

NO rookie prosecutor would submit such flimsy evidence, the defense would shoot it down in 2 seconds as being bogus!

If you were a defense attorney would you except as evidence in a murder trial a photograph of the murder weapon? I don't thinks so. Nor should PHOTOCOPIES be excepted as evidence in a forgery case.

And for the record the IBM Selectric Composer is a TYPESETTER NOT a typewriter.

The IBM "Selectric" Composer was the first desktop typesetting machine. It was based on the successful "Selectric" technology. In case you're not familiar with that, the IBM Selectric typewriter is the one that has a small ball with all the letters imprinted on it.

The basic task of the IBM Composer was to produce justified camera ready copy using proportional fonts. It has the capability of using a variety of font sizes and styles.

BTW, where is the reporting on Sen. Kerry's FAILURE to disclose his COMPLETE military records. Six pages does not make a 3.5 year Naval Reserve record? Did he do his required drills? What subversive activities is he hiding?
-- Gail Keasling
Millington, Tennessee
P.S. I'm writing this in my PJ's

In the latest Prowler column/blog, I found the following paragraph:

"THE MOST GLARING ISSUES now are the seemingly phony P.O. Box addresses used in the headers of at least one of the memorandums. Such post office box addresses were not used by the National Guard at that time, let alone a box with a number '34567,' as in the memo."

I suggest you visit the official military documents on President. You will find that P.O. Box 34567 is legitimate, and it was used.

Please issue a correction of this misstatement. It is careless statements like this one that the leftists grasp to discredit otherwise truthful reporting.

I do not send anonymous email. My name and address are:
-- Fred D. Feuerbacher
Walnut Creek, California

The Prowler replies:
Thanks for the input. To clarify: On Saturday Fox News reported that the Pentagon had questioned the use of a general public P.O. box on some of the memos in questions and that the P.O. Box may never have been used by that unit. The Pentagon further went on to say that it was "highly unlikely" that the National Guard would have used a P.O. box containing sequential numbers and that standards military practice to place the actual physical address on the letterhead.

A HISTORIAN'S PERSPECTIVE
Re: Reader Mail's Rather's Blather:

Your coverage of the CBS document debacle is fascinating, amusing, saddening, troubling, and dangerous. As Newton Love succinctly demonstrated, the errors of these "documents" will be eliminated by their "authors" for the next series of attacks. Thus, it will be more difficult to determine the validity of the next round of "documents."

As a trained historian who puts his faith in the veracity of original documents, this new scheme of creating original documents after the fact is deeply troubling. I must trust that the documents I am viewing and interpreting are real, honest, and true. When new revelations appear that seem to challenge or cloud my previous understanding, I have to trust that the new documents are legitimate and the author's intentions are legitimate as well.

BUT, I must also verify, check, and investigate to determine to the best of my ability and knowledge, that what I have uncovered is indeed genuine. Failing to perform such a thorough search jeopardizes my credibility (and that of my profession). At best, I become nothing more than a hack, fiction writer, or teller of tall tales. Or, at worst, I become Dan Rather.

Look at Douglas Brinkley. He trusted the honesty and integrity John Kerry without verifying the record. If I had failed to perform such a simple and required exercise for a graduate paper, my professors would have rightly failed me. Now Mr. Brinkley is having his work and his ability scrutinized (and rightly so). Even worse, however, Brinkley's faith in the word of John Kerry (or carelessness in fact-checking) jeopardizes the very work of a supposed impartial historian.
-- Jason C.

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