NPR Rewrites Rathergate History to Cover Up Fraud

Media • Views: 8,469

National Public Radio does their best to rewrite history in this shockingly disingenuous piece on the Rathergate affair, told from Dan Rather’s perspective as he openly states (and NPR doesn’t challenge) that the memos in his infamous 60 Minutes II piece were never proven to be fakes: Dan Rather Hopes To Tell His Bush Story In Court.

The Sept. 8, 2004, report was aired just eight weeks before Election Day. Conservative bloggers slammed CBS and Rather immediately — poring over decades-old typefaces and fonts to charge the documents were forgeries. Former Lt. Col. Bill Burkett, the key source who provided the copies of the records — supposedly from the personal files of young Lt. Bush’s commanding officer — changed his story about how he got them. Other sources, seemingly vouching for the records, said they were taken out of context. …

Before the report was concluded, Rather announced he would voluntarily relinquish the anchor’s desk the next spring. But he now says he was called in the day after the election and told he was out as anchor. After a bit more than a year as a little-used correspondent, Rather left CBS in 2006. He now says the story about Bush’s military service record was true.

“Nobody has ever proven the documents to be anything but what they purported to be,” Rather says. “What the documents stated has never been denied — by the president or anyone around him.”

Rather’s attorneys also point to public statements by Michael Missal, a lawyer in Thornburgh’s law firm who helped conduct the investigation.

“It’s ironic that the blogs were actually wrong when they had their criticism,” Missal said in a speech back in March at Washington and Lee’s law school.

“We actually did find typewriters that did have the superscripts, did have proportional spacing, and on the fonts, given that these are copies, it’s really hard to say,” Missal said. “But there were some typewriters that looked like they could have some similar fonts there, so the initial concerns didn’t seem as though they would hold up.”

There’s no polite way to put it; this is a steaming pile of unvarnished crap. The documents were indeed proven to be frauds, beyond a shadow of a doubt, and Rather and his lawyers know it. It’s disgusting to watch these people try to lie their way back into respectability.

There was no “poring over decades-old typefaces.” It was obvious to me that these documents were not created on a typewriter within seconds of the first time I saw them.

They never found a typewriter that could produce a match for those documents, and they never will — because such a typewriter does not exist. The documents were created in Microsoft Word and printed on a modern printer.

And here’s the simple, undeniable proof, obvious to anyone with eyes and a brain that hasn’t been warped by the dishonest media; our animated GIF alternating between the CBS version of the “18 August 1973” document, and the version we created in Microsoft Word using its default settings:


As I wrote on September 9, 2004:

The spacing is not just similar—it is identical in every respect. Notice that the date lines up perfectly, all the line breaks are in the same places, all letters line up with the same letters above and below, and the kerning is exactly the same. And I did not change a single thing from Word’s defaults; margins, type size, tab stops, etc. are all using the default settings. The one difference (the “th” in “187th” is slightly lower) is probably due to a slight difference between the Mac and PC versions of the Times New Roman font, or it could be an artifact of whatever process was used to artificially “age” the document. (Update: I printed the document and the “th” matches perfectly in the printed version. It’s a difference between screen and printer fonts.)

There is absolutely no way that this document was typed on any machine that was available in 1973.

Curious, isn’t it, that none of these articles trying to rehabilitate Rather ever mention the actual bloggers who exposed the fraud by name? Instead, they’re just unnamed “conservative bloggers” — or if it’s the New York Times, “right wing bloggers.”

None of the writers ever contact me, and none of the articles ever include the animated GIF that demonstrates the fraud conclusively.

The reason why they leave out this important information is simple: if they tell people where to find the debunkers and their proof, the pathetic tissue of lies they’re constructing would fall apart — because people could go on the Internet and see the truth with their own eyes.

(Hat tip: Occasional Reader.)

UPDATE at 12/23/08 10:57:34 am:

Some more thoughts:

Whether superscript, proportional spacing, or some other typographical detail was possible on a typewriter in the 1970s is actually irrelevant, because the output produced by Microsoft Word is as distinctive as a fingerprint.

I did an experiment and entered the “18 August 1973” document into Apple’s TextEdit program, after changing the defaults to match MS Word’s as closely as possible, and the resulting document was completely different. You can see the results in this post.

Word processing programs make all kinds of decisions about how to display and print fonts, and they are not all the same. Each program has its distinctive ways of determining what the document is supposed to look like, and it’s really difficult to get them to match with the degree of accuracy we see in the throbbing memo GIF, even with lots of tweaking and adjusting of settings. You can even see differences in different versions of the same program.

And since it’s so difficult to get a close match even with a similar modern word processor, to maintain that a 1970s-era typewriter could have done it is ludicrous.

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