Monday, January 10, 2005

I love the CBS News forged-document story. To paraphrase the abominable snowman from the Bugs Bunny cartoons, I want to hug it and squeeze it and name it George. Okay, I don't want to name it George, but you get my drift. If this story were hot fudge, I would smear it all over my body and then roll around in nougat.

--Jonah Goldberg at National Review Online, 9/14/04

Uh-oh -- CBS's investigative panel has just issued its report on the Guard story, and some heads have rolled at CBS, including that of the segment's producer, Mary Mapes. Hide the babies -- if right-wingers were gleeful back in the fall, they're going to be copulating in the streets now that they have yet another opportunity to bash Dan Rather, The Most Evil Man On Earth Not Named Clinton. (I hope to God nougat isn't going to be involved.)

I really, really don't want to talk about this anymore. I bailed on the documents early, and I still occasionally get grief for that in e-mails, as I'm sure I will again now. I continue to think the docs are, regrettably, forgeries (though their content is probably quite close to the truth). I used high-end typewriters at a job in the early '80s and, yes, they could do tricks, but getting them to do tricks was slow and tedious work; I agree with something ex-typesetter Max Sawicky wrote as the story broke:

although the Selectric Composer (SC) -- which I used -- did proportional spacing and kerning, it is not likely to have been used for memos in an office. If this all rests on some office monkey using an SC for memos in 1972, then I say the docs are probably forgeries.

(And I think that applies to any fancy-schmancy machine that theoretically could have produced the documents three decades ago.)

I said what I had to say about Dan Rather and Mary Mapes in this October post, "Left-Wing Tools? Or Easily Fooled?," and in a couple of related posts. Summary of those posts: Rather and Mapes were simply overly eager for a scoop and thus went with the documents before they could be properly vetted -- a tendency they also showed earlier when they believed material supplied to them by a lifelong bullshit artist named Jonathan Keith Idema, who was a gung-ho right-winger and who's now in a prison after being convicted of torturing Afghans. If you fall for the Killian documents and Idema, you're not an ideologue, you're just an easy mark.

Jonah Goldberg, I see, is already whining about the fact that CBS's panel concurs -- the panel denies that political bias was involved in the decision to use the documents and blames the debacle on excessive eagerness for a scoop.

As for the documents, I don't know who produced them, but I'm still not ruling out Rove.

(By the way, there's more on Idema in this Columbia Journalism Review article by Mariah Blake.)

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