Skip to comments.CBS Offers New Experts to Support Guard Memos
Posted on 09/13/2004 8:31:00 PM PDT by ambrose
September 14, 2004THE MILITARY RECORD
CBS Offers New Experts to Support Guard MemosBy JIM RUTENBERG and KATE ZERNIKE
hen the CBS News anchor Dan Rather defended himself on camera and in interviews last Friday against questions being raised about documents he had used to bolster a report on President Bush's National Guard service, he and network executives considered the case closed.
Mr. Rather himself said emphatically: "CBS News stands by, and I stand by, the thoroughness and accuracy of this report, period. Our story is true."
Yet there he was again, on "The CBS Evening News" last night, presenting even more experts to attest to the authenticity of several documents purportedly dating back to the early 1970's suggesting that Mr. Bush received favorable treatment in the Guard.
While Mr. Rather's initial "60 Minutes" report was considered a journalistic coup, coming in the peak of an election year and in the twilight of Mr. Rather's career, the network has found itself under unrelenting pressure from within and without to prove that the documents were genuine amid charges that they could only have been produced by modern-day word processors.
The controversy over the documents has been propelled by a volatile mix of fierce election-year rancor, daily disclosures pointing to potential weaknesses in CBS's report and the network's steadfast refusal to explain how it got the documents.
Even inside CBS News there was deepening concern. Some of Mr. Rather's colleagues said in interviews that they were becoming increasingly anxious for him to silence the critics by proving the documents' validity and as new questions about their origin arose. Most declined to be quoted by name.
CBS said the documents came from the personal files of one of Mr. Bush's Guard commanders, Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian. The memos indicated that Mr. Bush had failed to take a physical against orders and that Colonel Killian was being pressured to "sugarcoat" his performance rating because Mr. Bush, whose father was then a Texas congressman, was "talking to somebody upstairs."
USA Today, which had presented the documents as legitimate on Thursday, featured an article yesterday with some experts surmising they were forgeries. "We're just busy now trying to determine the authenticity, or not," said the newspaper's executive editor, John Hillkirk.
One of the experts CBS News said initially helped convince it that the documents were genuine, a handwriting expert named Marcel B. Matley, said in an interview yesterday that he believed the signature in the documents to be that of Colonel Killian. Asked if the signature could have been lifted from an official document by Colonel Killian and pasted onto forgeries, Mr. Matley said: "Sure. But we can't draw a conclusion from a possibility."
Several CBS correspondents said in interviews that such developments were making them increasingly nervous.
One network correspondent said, "I've talked to colleagues who would love to see more of a defense."
This person described the state of the staff as "deep concern, I'd say not panic - we all want it to be right." This person, echoing others, said that Mr. Rather's resoluteness in addressing the charges on the air was allaying some of the concern. "Dan really put himself on the line and I can't imagine him knowingly defending something he knew not to be the case."
A longtime correspondent said flatly, "I'm distressed."
Mike Wallace, the longtime "60 Minutes" correspondent, said after hearing about new challenges to the validity of the documents on Sunday, "I'm confused by some of what I've heard today." But of his colleagues working on the report, he said: "You're dealing with genuine professionals. The last thing in the world that any of these people would want is to phony something."
Andrew Heyward, the CBS News president, said in an interview on Sunday that he was not concerned about the validity of the documents or the report CBS News presented. "I'm firmly convinced that the memos are authentic and the stories are accurate," he said.
Addressing staff concerns, Mr. Heyward said, "The story was thoroughly vetted as all pieces of '60 Minutes' are, and the more they know about the process, the more reassured they will be that we used every appropriate journalistic standard and safeguard in reporting the story." A spokeswoman said yesterday he had not changed his position.
Alex S. Jones, director of the Shorenstein Center at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, said the burden was on CBS to prove its report was accurate beyond standard lines like "We stand by our story."
"I think they should be able to provide credible information about how these memos came into their possession," Mr. Jones said. "And if they cannot provide the name of the source, then they need to make as much transparency as possible."
But CBS News officials have made it clear that they will go only so far. They have repeatedly said they do not believe their source for the documents would go public.
One important question raised inside and outside CBS is whether it knows where the documents, which it admits are not originals but copies, came from in the first place and how many hands they passed through. Sandy Genelius, a network spokeswoman, said, "We are confident about the chain of custody; we're confident in how we secured the documents." She would not elaborate.
Last night, CBS did not present any of the other experts who originally helped it authenticate the documents, beyond mentioning Mr. Matley, who was interviewed on the Friday broadcast. Instead it featured computer and typewriter specialists who had called or posted defenses of CBS on Internet blogs.
Richard Katz, a computer software expert in Los Angeles who was featured on the "Evening News" segment, said in an interview that he had called his local affiliate, KCBS, after looking at the memos on the CBS Web site after the initial broadcast, when some experts were saying that the memos looked as if they had been composed using the Times New Roman font in Microsoft Word.
Comparing the CBS memos with a replication produced on Microsoft Word, he noticed a slight variation in the boldness of the letters, as there is on many typewritten documents. "It doesn't look like you can do this very easily," he said. "If you use something like Photoshop you could come close to faking it, but why not just go out and buy a Selectric for $75?"
Bill Glennon, a technology consultant and I.B.M. typewriter specialist who had posted his thoughts on the memos on a blog and was quoted over the weekend in publications including The New York Times, said CBS called him Monday morning. The producer asked him to come in and look at the memorandums and say whether he thought that an I.B.M. typewriter could have produced the documents. He said he was initially leery of talking. "Because quite honestly there's some people out there, they're scary," he said. "You don't agree with them, you offer opinions that don't jibe with theirs and you get a target on your back."
Mr. Glennon was in charge of service for 1,000 contracts for I.B.M. typewriters for 15 years, starting in late 1972, around the time the memorandums were produced. He spent 15 minutes with the CBS documents, he said, and believes that they could have been created using the kind of typewriters he worked with at I.B.M.
Someone should call the police. Forgery is against the law and someone should be doing some jail time because of this.
Alright, experts, reproduce it with ancient equipment.
Talk is cheap.
So has ANYONE tried recreated the memo using a Selectric yet?!?!
I know everyone (and their collective mothers) have easily reproduced identical copies on MS Word... I even did it my self to verify.
I can't believe how they continue to dig themselves deeper into the hole.
I think the DNC is tied to this and it is akin to Watergate.
I thought I read the whole article. I did not see any new experts....
A typewriter repair man and some dude in his pajamas that noticed a 'l' for a '1' (oh yeah, he's a computer programmer too. Not sure what that has to do with anything). I'm a futures trader by profession, but if you were to ask me about markets in the 60s I wouldn't have a clue (unless of course you paid me enough then I would definatley make some sh*t up)
See BS has resorted to using DUer types as "experts"!
NY Times is NOT impressed!
OK Mr. Glennon, put up or shut up--if you believe that the documents could have been created with a 1972 typewriter, then do it. Numerous people have created the documents in Word in 20 minutes or less. Have at it--see if you can do the same. Perhaps, CBS should get you some help and put millions of monkeys at work typing on Selectrics and one will produce the memos.
Dan Rather will go out as his old enemy Nixon went out, disgraced.
They need to come clean, or CBS and Mel Karmazin is going down with Rather.
I repaired copiers for almost ten years. Many people don't realize that at 100% zoom ratio, a copier is set to VERY SLIGHTLY enlarge the document. This decreases the odds that an edge will appear on the copy, and makes for a cleaner copy.
Because they are magnified by a fraction of a percent each time, over successive generations of copying, letters do appear to "bloat."
Damn, that's cold. But awfully funny.
Or just run it through some mediocre copy machines more than a few times.
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