Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Keeping it alive

The Atlanta Journal Constitution keeps Rathergate alive for another day undercover of a blase headline "Bush to address National Guard Association". After explaining why it used the headline, it pretty much dives headlong into the an update on the controversy. (Rather didn't help himself by spending alot of time Monday evening on it again.) Highlights:

Tuesday, President Bush travels to Las Vegas to address the National Guard Association, made up of 45,000 members and veterans of the branch of service in which he served — and to which some question whether he fulfilled his wartime commitment.

Veteran CBS News anchor Dan Rather devoted more than three minutes of his "Evening News" broadcast Monday defending documents he used in a "60 Minutes II" report last week that concluded Bush received preferential treatment in the Texas Air National Guard.

A draft of the president's speech today doesn't mention the ongoing controversy about his National Guard service, a Bush-Cheney campaign aide said. ...

After Rather raised new questions about Bush's Guard record on "60 Minutes II," reports from a variety of sources suggest the documents used by CBS may be forgeries, created by a computer word processor, not a 1970s typewriter.

Rather responded Monday by putting on camera a "technical consultant" and a software designer he said authenticated the documents used in the initial CBS report.

Rather broadly acknowledged criticism of the documents during his "Inside Story" segment on Monday's evening news broadcast.

"But CBS used several techniques to make sure these papers should be taken seriously, talking to handwriting and document analysts and other experts who strongly insist the documents could have been created in the '70s," Rather told viewers, as video of an unidentified man examining enlarged versions of the documents was aired.

Rather insisted the White House has refused to answer questions about Bush's service, including whether a friend of the Bush family used his influence with the Texas House speaker to get Bush into the National Guard, whether Lt. Bush refused an order to take a required physical and whether he was suspended for failing to perform up to standards.
They recapped the last week, too , noticing the source of Dan Rather's problems (it's a little snobby but who cares to quibble), mentions their favorite name for it, includes a blog name, and notes who's bailing on CBS. But I will let them say it:

After the CBS broadcast, the media echo chamber — including an energized band of "bloggers" who post personal journals to the Internet — reverberated.

Late Wednesday and into Thursday, several bloggers questioned the validity of the CBS documents. The Web enthusiasts concluded that the spacing and type font of the documents could be produced exactly by Microsoft Word, but not a 1970s-era typewriter.

Major print and television news outlets picked up the story, and "proportionally spaced fonts" became a buzzword among cable TV commentators.

On Friday, the Washington Post quoted experts who questioned the authenticity of the CBS documents. The Post reported that Killian's widow called the documents "a farce."

Also Friday, The Dallas Morning News reported that the officer named in one memo as exerting pressure to "sugarcoat" Bush's military record was discharged a year and a half before the memo was written.

Rather stood by his story. "If any definitive evidence in the contrary of our story is found, we will report it," he said on his Friday night newscast. "So far, there is none."

On Saturday, a former National Guard commander who helped CBS authenticate its documents told The New York Times he didn't think they were genuine. Bobby Hodges told the paper that CBS didn't show him the documents, but read them over the telephone. ...

The controversy has brewed a new blog — Rathergate.com — which calls for Rather's resignation.
Finally, they note possible crediblity problems for CBS and Dan Rather, suggest the hoax and duped defenses and with a final push quote from the Safire article. All in all, a reasonable article by Marlon Manuel w/a HT to Ken Herman. Too bad the headliner didn't read more than the first graph.

Update: Sheesh!!!! I closed the AJC window and then realized I did not add the link to this post so I went through Google's link again and up came a rewritten headline and some of the story. I did some print screens and a save file of the new story. I'll look at it tomorrow. Unfreakinbelieveable.


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