Friday, 10 September 2004

Worst. Forgery. Ever?

Bruce Rolston notes that all four memos raising questions about George W. Bush’s service reproduce exactly in Microsoft Word (þ Colby Cosh). As he says, one could buy one memo looking exactly like a Word document on the basis of coincidence… but four? That seems pretty implausible to me, at least.

What about the Selectric Composer—could Killian have used it? That’s not very likely either. And, you too can be a handwriting expert for the day. (Both links to Jeff Harrell’s The Shape of Days.)

Update: Surely if CBS lies to its interview subjects they would’t also lie to the American people, would they? And surely CBS would tell us if the guy allegedly pressuring Killian had retired 18 months before the memo was allegedly written? Right? Bueller?


A senior CBS official, who asked not to be named because CBS managers did not want to go beyond their official statement, named one of the network's sources as retired Maj. Gen. Bobby W. Hodges, the immediate superior of the documents' alleged author, Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian. He said a CBS reporter read the documents to Hodges over the phone and Hodges replied that "these are the things that Killian had expressed to me at the time."

"These documents represent what Killian not only was putting in memoranda, but was telling other people," the CBS News official said. "Journalistically, we've gone several extra miles."

The official said the network regarded Hodges's comments as "the trump card" on the question of authenticity, as he is a Republican who acknowledged that he did not want to hurt Bush. Hodges, who declined to grant an on-camera interview to CBS, did not respond to messages left on his home answering machine in Texas.

So the “trump card,” Hodges, didn’t actually verify the documents’ authenticity (and CBS went out of its way to tell him the memos were in Killian’s handwriting), and Staudt was apparently only able to influence the Guard in 1973 via telepathy.

I suppose the good news is they didn't rig anything to explode (yet). And it's not like 60 Minutes has a record of basing stories on fake memos or anything:

In 1999, "60 Minutes" apologized, as part of a legal settlement with a Customs Service official, for reporting on a memo that was later found to be fake."

Oh, scratch that one then.