Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Time for Rather and Mapes to Perform Seppuku?

CBS News acting like an organ of the DNC, or at least the anatomical end of the alimentary canal, is disturbing in so many ways. Is it time for CBS executives to give two ceremonial knives to Rather and Mapes and have some true reality TV?

Rather Forges Ahead, Leaving Career in the Dust.


--CBS News has gone into full "CYA" mode. After being attacked continuously for the past six days by everyone ranging from posters at FreeRepublic.com, to Web sites like RatherBiased.com, Powerline, and Instapundit.com, to large media organizations like The Washington Post, The New York Times, and its network television rivals, CBS mounted another defense of itself tonight.

Just as his Friday defense of failed to convince, Rather's Monday defense was almost completely ineffectual. Several points stand out:

1. Rather finally stated that not all of his critics are politically motivated, something he was unwilling to do last Friday.

2. Rather's report did not feature a single quotation from any of its critics, something that an objective news organization would do if it were covering the story of accusations made by political campaigns against each other. For CBS Evening News viewers who have not been following the scandal, this must have been a strange spectacle. To receive no background on the story and only one side of it.

3. Bill Glennon, the typewriter repair guy whom CBS featured tonight said that the documents "could have" been prepared on a 70s-era typewriter with "custom feature" attachments, hardly a ringing endorsement, especially since he failed to specifically name a typewriter which did have the capability. That a hypothetically very expensive typewriter using optional parts could even be found in a National Guard unit which normally operate with hand-me-down office equipment from the full-time services hardly seems likely.

4. Richard Katz, the "software designer" of unnamed employer clearly is not familiar with Microsoft Word. To disable its automatic superscripting, all one has to do is put a space after a word before typing the "th". What kind of software expert is not aware of that?

5. Referring to one of the memos which appears to use the letter "L" instead of the number one, Katz according to Rather, says that "would be difficult to reproduce on the computer today." That is complete nonsense. Is it really that hard for someone to type "L" instead of "1" within Microsoft Word?

6. Does the el versus one point made by CBS hold water? One of our readers responds:

"As an 'old' teacher who was teaching 'typing' in the 1970's, let me submit one more item that could be added to the list of discrepancies: Even with the advent of the IBM Selectric typewriter, we continued to teach students to use the lower case of the letter L for several years because it was presented that way in the book!!

"It took me years to personally convert to using the number 1 on the top row of the keyboard; and, I submit to you anyone who learned to type by the touch method in the 1960's and/or early 1970's continued to use the lower case of the letter L.--because it was learned intuitively."

Peter Nelson has further thoughts on this.

7. Rather's defense failed to note any of the arguments made by Jerry Killian's family who said he never took notes, said he did not have others make them for him, and said that CBS refused to put them on the air. The anchor also failed to respond to remarks from many of CBS's sources who have either backed away from, or outright denounced the memo story as false.

8. Just days after a former CBS official denounced internet forum posters and bloggers as "a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas," it appears that CBS may have used one such pajama person as a new "expert" source. According to The New York Times, Bill Glennon, typewriter repairman, is said to have "posted his thoughts on the memos on a blog."

9. CBS's original expert, Marcel Matley, who has since backed away from supporting the network's case that the documents are genuine, has a very checkered past according to New York Post. In 1995 court testimony, Matley acknowledged that he had had no formal training in a document lab, or in "machines, typewriters, photocopies." The paper also discovered that Matley has published works on "spirituality in handwriting" and "female/male traits in handwriting," with such lines in them as: "For your male client, you will be able to recognize the facade of machismo--and also recognize the hurt boy-child who uses that as a defensive hiding place."

10. Rather also failed to respond to a barrage of charges raised by Washington Post, including confirmation of a scoop first reported by RatherBiased.com that Bush's Air National Guard office did not use expensive IBM typewriters capable of printing documents in a proportional font.

11. Other Post charges: More typographical concerns raised by a genuine expert in fonts, Joseph Newcomer, incorrect addresses, improper military signature lines and abbreviations, quotes from Thomas Phinney, a font developer at Adobe (the company which oversaw the late 1980s modification of Times New Roman into its current form), an admission from Glennon that he is not a document expert, and more backtracking from Matley.

12. At the end of the piece, reporters Michael Dobbs and Howard Kurtz talk to Sandy Genelius, one of our favorite spokesfriends at CBS News. She apparently didn't get the memo from Dan to defend at all cost, backpedaling tremendously from Rather's knee-jerk: "In the end, the gist is that it's inconclusive. People are coming down on both sides, which is to be expected when you're dealing with copies of documents."

13. Rather's response also failed to respond to critics who raised finer points about the font issues, including one point about kerning raised by Stephan Braddy, a software engineer who appears to have launched a new blog with a first post on Memogate stating that all available evidence suggests that "it is a mathematical certainty that the CBS Bush National Guard documents are fraudulent."

"The fact that the CBS Bush National Guard overlay matches perfectly and shows no signs of compounding deviation makes it a mathematical certainty that the two documents were both created by Microsoft Word, and therefore not in 1973. It is nearly impossible to create two documents with two different kerning systems that can survive the overlay test, especially if those two kerning systems are separated by 30 years in technology and design."

14. It's also worth noting that the two "experts" used to support its evidence Monday night were not involved with the original authentication and had merely looked at the online copies of the documents, something which Rather on Friday said he had a problem with, given that "deterioration occurs each time a document is reproduced and the documents being analyzed outside of CBS have been photocopied, faxed, scanned and downloaded and are far removed from the documents CBS started with which were also photocopies." Strangely, Dan did not repeat this assertion Monday night.

Other instant responses from Politicalities and Ed Morrisey. Send yours to blogs@ratherbiased.com.

While you're out on the web, see this parody interview with an IBM Selectric typewriter as well as this hilarious eBay listing for a Selectric auction. We also note the creativity of the individual who came up with this image juxtaposing the CBS Eye onto the famous Tower of Sauron from the Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.

Also see these related Memogate cartoons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

Why all the funny links at the end? Because at this point, Dan Rather's credibility is so diminished it's quite comedic to watch him try to hold back a tsunami of evidence that he's been duped worse than the old lady who believes The Weekly World News.

If CBS is smart, and we have reason to believe that there are many people within the network who are, it will fire Rather before the bottom falls out any further. The CBS Evening News has consistently been the lowest-rated nightly news program on broadcast for nearly 15 years now. After Memogate, we have no doubt the ratings will fall even further with Rather at the helm.

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