Tuesday, September 14, 2004

The End

The Washington Post has run an article which practically humiliates CBS and Dan Rather. It begins with a repudiation of the Killian memos by the 60 Minutes chief document expert, Marcel Matley. The Post then pronounces on the documents themselves: they are fake.

A detailed comparison by The Washington Post of memos obtained by CBS News with authenticated documents on Bush's National Guard service reveals dozens of inconsistencies, ranging from conflicting military terminology to different word-processing techniques.

The analysis shows that half a dozen Killian memos released earlier by the military were written with a standard typewriter using different formatting techniques from those characteristic of computer-generated documents. CBS's Killian memos bear numerous signs that are more consistent with modern-day word-processing programs, particularly Microsoft Word.

It continues unmercifully by citing the evidence of electronic typesetting expert Joseph M. Newcomer who declares "I am personally 100 percent sure that they are fake". The Washington Post goes on to detail numerous factual and formatting errors in the CBS documents, mentioning among other things, word processing characteristics, wrong addresses, styles, inconsistencies in dates before introducing the additional repudiation of key 60 Minutes source Bobby Hodges. Deserted by its original document expert, CBS is then reported to rely on a new consultant called Bill Glennon who says 'IBM electric typewriters in use in 1972 could produce superscripts and proportional spacing similar to those used in the disputed documents' before admitting that he was 'not a document expert, could not vouch for the memos' authenticity and only examined them online because CBS did not give him copies when asked to visit the network's offices.'  To set against poor Mr. Glennon, the Post enters the contradictory testimony of the Adobe Company into the lists.

Thomas Phinney, program manager for fonts for the Adobe company in Seattle, which helped to develop the modern Times New Roman font, disputed Glennon's statement to CBS. He said "fairly extensive testing" had convinced him that the fonts and formatting used in the CBS documents could not have been produced by the most sophisticated IBM typewriters in use in 1972, including the Selectric and the Executive. He said the two systems used fonts of different widths.

It is an unmerciful public flogging; the kind one would not wish upon a donkey. Whether or not Stanley Kurtz's theory (see the previous post) is correct, it is hard to see how CBS can maintain their story a single day longer.