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September 9, 2004
Mainstream Media Notices The Fraud At CBS

Any hope that the mainstream media would protect its own and ignore the obvious forgeries coming from CBS dies on the pages of tomorrow's Washington Post. Michael Dobbs and Mike Allen report that several news agencies hired documents experts who concluded that the documents were likely faked:

After doubts about the documents began circulating on the Internet yesterday morning, The Post contacted several independent experts who said they appeared to have been generated by a word processor. An examination of the documents by The Post shows that they are formatted differently from other Texas Air National Guard documents whose authenticity is not questioned.

William Flynn, a forensic document specialist with 35 years of experience in police crime labs and private practice, said the CBS documents raise suspicions because of their use of proportional spacing techniques. Documents generated by the kind of typewriters that were widely used in 1972 space letters evenly across the page, so that an "i" uses as much space as an "m." In the CBS documents, by contrast, each letter uses a different amount of space.

The fact that the Post checked with experts prompted by Internet speculation -- fueled by Power Line and forums like Bandit's -- shows the growing power of the blogosphere to move the old media. On the other hand, these documents and CBS' explanations for them are so poorly done that it's hard to imagine that any news outlet could ignore it for long. For instance, coming out in much the same manner as her son, Killian's widow blasted CBS, claiming that her late husband never wrote or kept any such memos:

In a telephone interview from her Texas home, Killian's widow, Marjorie Connell, described the records as "a farce," saying she was with her husband until the day he died in 1984 and he did not "keep files." She said her husband considered Bush "an excellent pilot."

"I don't think there were any documents. He was not a paper person," she said, adding that she was "livid" at CBS. A CBS reporter contacted her briefly before Wednesday night's broadcasts, she said, but did not ask her to authenticate the records.

The Post even forced CBS to reveal that the documents were "authenticated" via a phone conversation with retired Major General Bobby W. Hodges, Killian's superior:

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 that a CBS reporter read the documents to Hodges over the phone, and that 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.

I don't think that anyone doubts that CBS went several extra miles, but in what direction? How does the Tiffany Network account for the fact that the 1973 memos reference purported pressure from an Col. Buck Staudt, who had retired in 1972? Did Hodges and Killian invent a word-processing system to write these memos that escaped the notice of document experts, with an ability to produce type-set documents?

So now we have documents typed in a way that was impossible for the time they were made, sourced from personal files of a dead ex-officer whose family angrily deny he ever had, and authenticated by another ex-officer who never actually saw them. Is this journalism?

UPDATE: Could this be the Robert Hodges from Texas that claims to be a Republican -- the one who donated $250 to Howard Dean?

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 9, 2004 10:04 PM

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» Blogger Day from Ipse Dixit
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» D-Day for Big Media from Secure Liberty
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Tracked on September 10, 2004 8:26 AM

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