Re: George Neumayr’s Forged Press Credentials:
The “Mainstream Press” at this point is very much like the pedophile priests that assumed they still had the authority to do their jobs. Too late. Their transgressions have rendered them infecund and without virtue. Now they want us to shut up and stop watching their every move. Very well then. Since they’ve become outmoded, we should stop watching them.
— Beto Ochoa
In George Neumayr’s essay “Forged Credentials,” he quotes Jonathan Klein, a former CBS executive, as defending the “60 Minutes II” debacle at CBS by asking Americans if they trust anti-Rather bloggers — a “guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas writing.” I stopped trusting “60 Minutes” back in 1986 when the show ran an absurd hit piece on the Audi 5000, purporting to demonstrate it suffered from “runaway acceleration.” I was watching that program with my son and some of his buddies, whose hobby was drag-bike racing. One of the things they did to increase acceleration before a run was, with the front brake on, rev the motorcycle’s engine to spin the rear wheel, heat the tire and make it sticky, so better able to grip the pavement. Two fingers holding down the front brake lever were enough to prevent the bike from lunging forward despite the full power of the engine spinning the rear wheel.
These boys laughed out loud as “60 Minutes” paraded alleged expert after expert trying to demonstrate how the Audi could accelerate out of control even though the driver was firmly braking. All the “60 Minutes” ace investigative reporters had to do to prove this could not happen, they said, was climb into an Audi–or any car–and tromp down on both the accelerator and brake at the same time. The car wouldn’t go anywhere. A first-year engineering student could have explained to “60 Minutes” why this is so.
But “60 Minutes” aired this ridiculous story, which had vast repercussions on many thousands of people as Audi sales crashed, the company was almost forced out of the market, the franchise became worthless, people working at dealerships lost their jobs, Audi 5000 owners saw the resale value of their perfectly good cars destroyed…. To all of this “60 Minutes” was indifferent. Could it be that “60 Minutes” has always been more interested in a “good” story than a truthful one? Gen. William Westmoreland might have a thing or two to say about that.
— Chris Mark
Many thanks to George Neumayr for having given us a fascinating review of Dan Rather.
Found especially interesting is this statement: “Rather’s career arc looks complete: he has gone from nipping at the heels of Richard Nixon for a third-rate burglary to serving as the Democrats’ copy boy for what looks like a third-rate forgery.”
In attempting to determine cause for Rather’s rather virulent hatred of Bush 43, it might be well to recall an event near the apogee of Rather’s trajectory. It occurred during the campaign of 1988 that pitted Bush 41 against Dukakis. During what Rather clearly intended to be a newsmaker interview that would hole Bush at the waterline, Rather rather haughtily began to question Bush about his alleged role in Iran-Contra. A clearly stunned Rather suddenly found himself classically Bush-whacked instead.
G.H.W. Bush turned the tables by asking the oh so superior news reader if would want the public to judge Rather as unprofessional on the basis of the single incident in which he left in anger during one of his televised performances, leaving the TV equivalent of dead air. Rather reacted furiously and the well scripted effort to put a dagger in Bush was left in a shambles with both men shouting at each other at the top of their voices.
It is my surmise that Rather was stung to the core — obvious to one and all as the result of his gross professional mis-judgment — and swore revenge on Bush 41. His malign attempt to play gotcha with the son of Bush 41 seems all of a piece with the mean spirited, petty nature of this grandly self-inflated “news” anchor whose ego balloon was so rapidly punctured 16 years ago to the joy of many such as myself.
It is further my surmise that CBS may find some pretext for accepting Rather’s resignation — with all sorts of going away, nostalgic hoopla to sugar coat the dismissal — if President Bush wins re-election. In that case perhaps Kerry and Rather can go on a world sports celebrity tour together to showcase their unique talents: neither needs any external movement of air to go wind surfing on a mill pond. They might even seek commercial gas turbine wind farm endorsements to tout their concern for the environment and the joys of living “off the grid”.
— Thomas E. Stuart
I find myself in total agreement with Mr. Neumayr once again. I would add only this: It seems to me that the real arrogance here in the Dan Rather never-never land is Mr. Rather’s contention that it is not incumbent upon him to prove the veracity of his presentation, but, rather, it is the responsibility of the public to prove him wrong. I guess this would change the old journalistic jeremiad, “Get it first, Get it right” to “Make it up, Get it our.” I long ago made my peace with the network media’s penchant for slanting the new; however, I draw a hard and fast line when they decide that slanting is not enough. Now they are actually creating it out of whole cloth.
— Joseph Baum
Newton Falls, Ohio
THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING
Re: The Washington Prowler’s Here We Go Some More:
The key to Rathergate at this point, since all but die-hard partisans admit that the documents are forgeries, is the source of the forgeries. If Dano had really been duped, my guess is that he would “out” the source in a moment. Since Mr. Rather has not “outed” his source, it is my suspicion that the source is a major Democrat or that there is major Democratic involvement with the source.
— J. Sutherland
St. Louis, Missouri
The only remaining question, the documents used on “60 Minutes II” being demonstrably faked, is WHY Dan Rather would not seek an investigation to substantiate his report or punish the guilty.
The answer is clear: if he ever admits the documents are frauds, he will not only no longer be obligated to protect the confidentiality of the source, but also, in fact, obligated to “out” the defrauder.
Now, if the faker was Burkett, Jim Moore, Harkin’s staff, or even the CBS producer, Rather would happily throw them to the wolves to salvage whatever little is left of his own credibility, and that of CBS News. That he won’t revisit his report, and keeps up his lame attempts to buttress it, demonstrates that what he fears is the eventual pressure to divulge the source. None of these suspects would give him a second thought, the choice being his reputation or theirs.
No, the culprit must be very important to Rather. Perhaps the Kerry campaign or the DNC . . . he is surely on their side, but don’t rule out that the forger might be old Dan himself, or that it was done with his knowledge and/or at his behest.
— Jim Addison
Walterboro, South Carolina
I read your website and enjoy it. This flap with C”BS” and President’s Bush’s fake documents I wish to share this with you.
In the mid 80’s I attended a convention held in Canada for the Texas Savings and Loan League. The key speaker was a retired CBS newsman who had covered Johnson while President. I enjoyed his presentation very much. That evening I spotted him sitting alone in the hotel bar. I went over and introduced myself, told him how much I enjoyed his presentation and while not a democrat I was always interested in Johnson. The retired newsman, began to tell me tidbits about Johnson that he could not and would not speak in public. One of them went like this:
While aboard Air Force One Johnson was embracing a sweet young thing that worked for AP. She was his part time mistress.
The kissed and hugged. Johnson looked up and saw the CBS camera running capturing the whole thing. Johnson called all the CBS folks on the plane to a meeting apart from the other media. Johnson stated that if that film ever appeared on TV or anywhere else for the public to see CBS would be off the air in three days.
I asked the old news man what happened to the film. He said as far as he knew that film is still locked in the vault of CBS in New York. Johnson was serious, had that much power, and CBS knew it.
Somehow we need to raise Johnson from the dead, ask him to make good on the promise, take CBS off the air!
— Mark R. Hale
I think we’re missing a vital point here. Dan Rather along with others dismissed the Swift boat charges until Kerry & Co. attacked their credibility. Then they filed many stories noting that the 1st ad was only possible due to a person who had contributed to the GOP before. With the exception of Fox News, no one discussed the allegations and focused on ties to GOP fundraisers and labeled it a “smear.”
Dan Rather has contributed to the Democratic Party and held fund raisers for it, he then airs a report based on fabricated documents and questionable witnesses. Yet no one calls it a “smear.”
Frankly, I hope the family of Lt. Co. Killian files a lawsuit against CBS and Rather in particular. The discovery phase would yield some very interesting finds that Rather is trying to hide.
Got to love that “objective journalism”!
— Scotty Uhrich
I support President Bush.
However, I must say that the Washington Prowler’s unwillingness to name its sources is just as reprehensible as CBS’s coyness in hiding theirs. Deep Throat notwithstanding, without identifiable and reliable witnesses on one side or documentary proof on the other, both parties’ asseverations should be regarded with skepticism.
Is scholarly method no longer taught in American universities?
Dan Rather, that “down-home” Texan who loves throwing in the occasional Tennessee Ernie saying, adopting it as his own, must be as nervous as that “long-tailed cat in a room full of rockin’ chairs” he used to talk about. I don’t think Dan has been quite right since that time back in the seventies, I think, when he was found disoriented and disheveled, muttering something about “What’s the frequency, Kenneth?”
The only thing that surprises me about Dan Rather is that he got away with it as long as he did. Not with me, of course. I’m from Texas and we can spot his type the minute they walk in the room.
— Diane Smith
South San Francisco, California
CBS News “relied on an analysis of the contents of the documents themselves to determine the documents’ authenticity.” They judge the Killian memos to be authentic, because the August 1, 1972, memo date matches the date of Bush’s suspension from flying status.
Since the October 2000 release of the President’s military personnel records, the effective date of his suspension has been published in countless places. It has appeared everywhere from Democrats.org to the History Channel website. A copy of the official suspension notice has been available on the Internet for all the world to see.
Insisting a date that has been in the public domain for 4 years proves “that these documents should be taken seriously” is a Rather flimsy defense.
Some thoughts regarding the Texas National Guard:
1. Bill Burkett was fired from a temporary full-time position with the Texas Army National Guard Headquarters in the 1990s. I don’t have the details but I know that he was royally pissed over the loss of a pretty easy employment opportunity.
2. The PO box number for Headquarters, Texas National Guard is Box 5218. The box number listed in the so-called Bush memo looks fake to me. The Texas Air National Guard and the Texas Army Nation Guard uses the same PO box number and mail is routed to the appropriate office via office symbol (i.e. AGTX-FTM would equal Adjutant General’s Office Full-Time Manning, AGTX-E equals Directorate of Facilities and Engineering). Air National Guard Headquarters has a distinct office symbol, but shares a PO box number. At least that was the way I experienced it from 1976 through 2000 as both a week-end and full-time member of the Texas Army National Guard.
3. Many of the literary conventions in the letter do not meet military standards. For example, dates are rendered 1 May 71 not 01 May 71. First Lieutenant is rendered 1LT not 1st LT. Commanders sign off on a signature block that reads Commanding, not Commander.
The whole thing looks and smells like a crude forgery. Gunga Dan needs to retire in shame.
— Michael McClain
Texas Army National Guard
As a wife and mother to military personnel, I in my “inexpert eye” was struck by two things, when viewing the documents concerning 1Lt. George Bush as displayed on television:
1. I used an IBM Selectric typewriter in 1974 at a junior college, with a ‘ball’ instead of keys, the same kind of typewriter that supposedly was used to type the memo regarding George Bush’s service in the National Guard. It took a whole semester to learn how to center the title as shown on the memo, and also how to set margins as shown in the memos. I have a problem believing a person who didn’t type could set up the format for this, let alone someone who was a career military person.
2. The address as a ‘P.O. Box’ also struck me as odd. In the military papers that I ever saw, the use of a P.O. Box would be unusual for a military address, and using on a memo even more unusual. They would use ‘Box’ with a number following, not a U.S. Postal address. As my son was an adman for years in the military, I checked with him, and he concurred that using ‘P.O. Box’ would have been unusual.
I hate to give information for future document forgers, but the document as shown on television does look a little suspicious to little ol’ me… how come it escaped the notice of Dan Rather and CBS producers?
— Margaret Turner
Dan “The Memo Man” Rather is fiddling with denials while Black Rock burns. He should of been hanging on to telephone poles and reporting in the path of one of the many recent storms instead of going after Dubya. I seriously doubt he suspected forgery. However, that he believed Ben Barnes is very questionable. This is the Ben Barnes who has signed affidavits on record contrary to his on air statements. Ben Barnes is one of the all time great “alleged” crooks from Texas. Ben Barnes was also involved in one of the biggest political scandals in Texas history.
In addition, if anyone would bother to look it up, the waiting list for enlisted men was long for all National Guard units. However, men that met the pre-requisites for pilot training went to the head of the line as all the flying units liked to keep the pilot ranks full up. This was due to the requirements of the Cold War.
Instead of trying to “cover up” he should “give up” before he takes the once great CBS News all the way down. He should issue an apology/retirement statement at the same time and just go away while he is in some position to get out of Dodge with a shred of dignity before the pajama wearing Internet journalist slam him all the way down.
I suspect there are plenty of the staff there at CBS that see a chance to get rid of this arrogant, pompous fool.
— Jim Tecson
Virginia Beach, Virginia
I am no expert regarding documents, handwriting, fonts, or anything else regarding the authenticity of the documents associated with Dan Rather’s report on “60 Minutes II” last week.
I have an observation, however, since I belong to the generation that would be familiar with typing documents on a typewriter as well on a PC (having been born in 1964).
I remember that my mother had a typewriter with superscript for the “th.” I don’t honestly remember its make, but nostalgia inclines me to say that it was a “Smith Corona” of the make that had swinging arms (rather than the IBM “ball” that came out some time much later). I loved this typewriter.
When I went to college, she gave me a newer version of the Smith-Corona, which came replete with a cartridge that included correction tape (a life saver in college). Don’t ask me the font featured on either.
Regardless of the question of proportional type or the font, or even of superscript, I do remember one thing about using these machines: the typist was responsible for depositing the paper exactly in the roller so as to insure that vertical and horizontal spacing was somehow close to being “right” regarding the centering of the type-face on the page. You had to release the “roller,” put the paper in, pull it up and match the bottom to the top of the sheet as exactly as possible, then engage the roller so as to “grab” the sheet of paper, and then roll back the sheet so that the top was aligned in such a way that your first typed line was spaced correctly for the format you were typing in. That is, it mattered how accurate you were when you rolled the paper and then centered it before you began typing, as any error would result in a type-face that was “crooked” on the page in relation to both the horizontal and the vertical edges of the page.
So. This being the case, I have to wonder how anyone with a computer, which allows us simply to type a page that is perfectly margined, could produce an exact replica of the 1972 memos that served as source for the “60 Minutes II,” as has been reported.
Given that every typewritten page ought to show the inaccuracies of the human hand, should it not be impossible to reproduce a computer generated page that can be nearly exactly lain over the photo-copied original on the CBS News website? Have not several people already done this?
As any builder will tell you: architects (like computers) deal in ideals; builders (like typewriters) operate in the “real world” in which there are no “straight lines.” Everything in this latter world is, as they say, “close enough for government work.” Every builder carries around a pocket full of shims — cause you never can get anything, really, “on the level.”
Mr. Rather seems to have got things backward: he says, “this story is true” and I will believe it as long as no one proves it wrong. If he were building a house, it would fall down. What he should say is “I do not believe this is true until evidence convinces me that it will stand.”
Shims are for correcting the error, not for building the whole house. CBS seems to have built this house out of shims, and no amount of beams, it would seem, can make the story “true.”
— Gregory A. Borse
Given what we’ve learned about John Kerry, Ben Barnes, Dan Rather and CBS, Al Franken should have enough material for “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them — Volume 2”
— Debbie Humphreys
Amsterdam, New York
Dan Rather’s document flap and his antics over the years have ensured that CBS’s call letters now mean you Can’t Believe the Story.
— John Grosskopf
THE LAW OF AVERAGES
Re: Jed Babbin’s Did We Lose the War?:
The F-117 stealth brilliance in Mr. Babbin’s essay grading the war is in the observation that “C students rule the world.” A gem of a sentence. Self-authenticating in its simplicity and power.
Once this axiom of the human condition is understood, all the rest is clerical detail. On the average, people are average.
It is not bad news, nor is it good news. It is simply the way the world is. Wisdom consists of taking the world as it is found and proceeding toward the good with eyes wide open. The ‘averageness’ of the average person is comprised of an array of traits ranging from the excellent to the unmentionable. Add up everything there is about a person, divide, and the average is, on the average, a ‘C’.
The Founders understood this, and the rationale for the constitutional Republic they designed, with its liberties and with its checks and balances, might well be expressed most succinctly thus: “C students rule the world”. The Constitution is the best design to date for wise and good rule by us ‘C’ students.
The fact of the matter is that the world, and particularly those aspects of it involving human beings, is orders of magnitude too complex for anyone to subdue with his or her intellect. The essence of conservatism is the reliance upon principle and prejudice, the expression of the accumulated wisdom of a thousand generations of ‘C’ students.
Great leaders understand this and work with it. ‘C’ students liberated Europe from the Nazis, and have accomplished many of history’s greatest works. Why, some have even been elected to the nation’s highest office and excelled. When given free reign to exercise those of their God-given talents which exceed the averages, and consent to modest regulation of their ‘F’ characteristics, there is no limit to the greatness ‘C’ students can attain.
As to the war, our success depends upon policies and strategies which empower our vast host of ‘C’ students to carry it through to victory. Black and white: good. Nuance and subtlety: no good.
I don’t want the world to be ruled by ‘A’ students. It doesn’t work. They’re just not smart enough.
— Paul Kotik
Re: Shawn Macomber’s Big Game Assaulter:
Reading Shawn Macomber’s article “Big Bad John” had me laughing out loud! Great work and thanks for sharing.
— Elizabeth Garrenton
Washington, North Carolina
The shotgun was given to Kerry at the annual labor rally at Racine, West Virginia, not at the Wisconsin gun club. I think it was at the Wisconsin gun club where Kerry said he loved to hunt deer — with a shotgun, crawling on his belly.
— Luke A. Lafferre
Huntington, West Virginia
Shawn Macomber replies: Mea culpa. I unfortunately combined two of Kerry’s various heartland gun-toting campaign appearances into one in yesterday’s column, and I deeply regret the error. See you at the whipping post, high noon.