60 Minutes Trolling For Left-Wing Political Groups

CBS has not yet learned its lesson from the Killian forgery debacle, according to CQ reader Retired Military. RM saw the following notice in the Killeen Daily Herald’s on-line user forums, which is the newspaper for the community near Fort Hood. Nancy Lessin and Charley Richardson are scouting for 60 Minutes producers, who want to hear any stories they can find that cast the military in a bad light:

Dear Military Families,
We received the email below from Leslie Cockburn, a producer for CBS’s 60 Minutes. She is looking into the lack of supplies, equipment, maintenance of vehicles/equipment, etc. in Iraq. If you are interested in contacting her, her email is LCCockburn@aol.com
and her phone number in Washington DC is 202 342 9488.
In Peace and Solidarity,
Nancy Lessin and Charley Richardson,
for Military Families Speak Out

According to this post, Cockburn’s objective approach to CBS News investigations are displayed for all to see in an e-mail sent to Lessin’s organization, the anti-war Military Families Speak Out. Cockburn starts with a belief and rather than test the hypothesis honestly, Cockburn trolls for only that testimony which will support the CBS position:

As per our conversation, I am producing a 60 Minutes piece (with Kroft) which addresses the following:
In light of our recently passed 416 billion dollar defense appropriations bill, I am disturbed to hear stories of lack of the most basic supplies among the troops in Iraq.
These include out of date weapons, lack of radios, inadequate water supplies, problems with vests, humvees, troops forced to purchase their own equipment etc. I would like to hear from any family
who knows of such problems. I am particularly interested in shortages within the last few months.
I am also interested in maintenance problems…backlogs of repairs on
vehicles and helicopters that may put troops in danger.
In looking at the stories from the field, I am trying to determine whether the Guard is experiencing more difficulties than other forces and also whether these problems continue regardless of promises to fix them.
If any of the families have documentary evidence of problems, photos from the field , home videos and letters etc, I am of course interested.
my [sic] email is LCCockburn@aol.com. (I am based in Washington DC. 202 342 9488)
Many thanks,

If you’re curious about who MFSO is and who supports them, their Links page should tell you how far to the left MFSO runs. The various groups all lead back to MoveOn.org, Greenpeace, Feminist Majority, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, and many other groups that have an explicit anti-Bush strategy. It’s very revealing that when CBS looks around for help on a story about the military that their producers look to these sources first.
Using this manner of journalistic ethics, winding up with forged documents and no credible attempt at authentication does not appear to be an exceptional event at CBS. In fact, if this is how the Tiffany Network practices journalism, it would be a wonder if CBS ever presented a true picture on any issue it approaches.

Washington Times: Killian Memo Signatures Forged

Rowan Scarborough at the Washington Times reports this morning that the signatures on the memos CBS produced to bolster its claim of preferential treatment for George Bush during his National Guard duty are forged:

Eugene P. Hussey, a certified forensic document examiner in Washington state, said yesterday there is another flaw in the CBS memos. Mr. Hussey studied the known signatures of Col. Killian on Air Force documents, and two signatures on documents dated 1972 and 1973 that aired on “60 Minutes” Wednesday night.
“It is my limited opinion that Killian did not sign those documents,” Mr. Hussey told The Washington Times. He said he uses the phrase “limited opinion” because he does not have the original documents. He, like other experts interviewed by the press, relied on copies of originals first obtained by CBS.

Dan Rather had earlier tried to pre-empt any debate about the documents by producing the CBS expert who pronounced the documents genuine, Marcel Matley. However, a quick search on both men’s names is revealing. Googling Hussey leads to eight links, all to professional document-examiner associations. However, Googling Matley results in at least one instance of Matley’s questionable and controversial media pronouncements. Matley’s support of another weird conspiracy theory is quoted at Justice For Kurt, a website dedicated to the notion that grunge pioneer Kurt Cobain did not commit suicide but instead was murdered. Matley suggested that Cobain’s suicide note is a forgery:

As to the last four lines, there are more than a dozen differences that should give us pause, and we would have to reasonable explain these differences before we can conclude that the same person wrote the four lines that wrote the body of it.

A number of readers also have informed me that Matley served on the commission that determined Vince Foster’s suicide note was genuine, although that seemed to me at the time and now to be a reasonable judgement. Far more interesting to me is the ethics of Matley, as described in a very revealing article he wrote titled “The Expert Ambush: How To Hold Off Your Opponent Until The Cavalry Arrives”, which advises how to stall and obfuscate when presented with expert testimony damaging to your case. Not only is the article a roadmap for Dan Rather’s defense so far, but it also shows that Matley is an experienced partisan who focuses much more on beating his opponent than on getting his testimony right.
So now we have the following discrepancies in the CBS documents:
1. Signatures forged.
2. Pressure allegedly applied is attributed to a command officer who had retired months before the dating of the memo.
3. No letterheads on at least two of the memos.
4. Despite CBS’ description of the sourcing for these memos as having come from the personal files of the deceased Jerry Killian, Killian’s family insists he kept no personal files.
5. Retired General Bobby Hodges, whom CBS claimed authenticated the material within the memos, now says that CBS lied to him about the documents. He was told that the memos were handwritten in Killian’s handwriting. His conclusion that they reflected Killian’s sentiments was based on that information, since CBS never showed him the documents. He has now stated he believes them to be forgeries.
6. Killian’s family insists that Killian couldn’t type well and avoided it whenever possible.
7. Killian’s family insists that Killian retained a high opinion of George Bush until Killian died in 1984, and was proud to have been the officer to pin Bush’s wings to his chest.
8. The memos vary widely from required Air Force format at the time — although they come much closer to the more modern Air Force format, first used in the 1990s, suggesting that the creator of the documents only has exposure to recent military procedure. Since Killian died in 1984, he could not possibly have written them.
9. The typography in these memos could only have been done by a typesetting system. While several of the features in the memos could possibly have been created by using various types of typesetting machines in the 1970s, no one has come up with one machine that could do all of them simultaneously in 1972 and 1973, nor explain why a Texas Air National Guard base would own one, or why a reserve Lieutenant Colonel would use one to write memos to his personal files — especially since the colonel in question hated to type.
Until CBS can answer these questions and produce the original documents for analysis, the logical conclusion is that these documents are clumsy forgeries and were produced by someone looking to smear George Bush. CBS’ insistence on protecting its source and refusal to investigate its own actions in publishing this story points to an awareness of journalistic practices that are at best sloppy, and at worst fraudulent.

Rather’s Source Says Documents Are A Fraud

Via Instapundit, the CBS meltdown continues. Just hours after Dan Rather told the nation that he personally vouched for the authenticity of the Killian memos due to the preponderance of supporting evidence surrounding them, the “preponderance” told ABC News that he thinks the documents are forged:

Retired Maj. General Hodges, Killian’s supervisor at the Grd, tells ABC News that he feels CBS misled him about the documents they uncovered. According to Hodges, CBS told him the documents were “handwritten” and after CBS read him excerpts he said, “well if he wrote them that’s what he felt.”
Hodges also said he did not see the documents in the 70’s and he cannot authenticate the documents or the contents. His personal belief is that the documents have been “computer generated” and are a “fraud”.

So now we find out that not only did CBS fail to show the documents to the one witness who could have verified them, but they also told him that the memos were handwritten — which would have made Hodges more likely to accept them as genuine, since everyone who knew Col. Jerry Killian knew he didn’t type. This is what CBS said earlier about how important Hodges was in certifying the documents as genuine:

“This report was not based solely on recovered documents, but rather on a preponderance of evidence, including documents that were provided by unimpeachable sources, interviews with former Texas National Guard officials and individuals who worked closely back in the early 1970s with Colonel Jerry Killian and were well acquainted with his procedures, his character and his thinking,” the network said in a statement reported on its Web site.

First the documents came from Killian’s personal files, until Killian’s family insisted that Killian kept no personal files, and didn’t type to boot. Then CBS trotted out Major General Bobby Hodges’s testimony that the documents accurately reflected Killian’s thinking at the time, which the Killian family also refuted. Now we find out that Hodges never saw the documents, were told they were handwritten, and only said that if CBS had notes in Killian’s handwriting then the notes must have reflected Killian’s thoughts at the time, which is nothing more than a common-sense statement.
The house that Edward R Murrow built is fast crumbling all around one man: Dan Rather. How much longer will this go on before CBS has enough?

CNN: Dan Rather Provided The Authentication

Power Line notes a rare Dan Rather appearance on CNN, where Rather personally vouched for the authenticity of the Killian memos despite all evidence of their fraudulent nature. He also told CNN viewers that there is no need for any investigation, apparently believing that his own personal credibility can make up for the fact that errors in both content and typography unequivocally demonstrate them to be fakes.
No transcript is available as of yet, although hopefully CNN will provide one soon. However, it moves the question from “how did CBS allow such obvious and poor forgeries to form the heart of their story” to “how long has Dan Rather been able to bypass any editorial control at CBS”? Because Rather, it would seem from this new statement, forced the story on the air without doing any journalistic work to verify the facts, something that even bloggers routinely do before writing. Rather never contacted the Killian family. Rather never had an expert review the documents themselves to authenticate their age and their content to see if both fit with military practice at the time. The only authentication CBS has provided is a statement that the documents were read over the phone to retired Major General Bobby Hodges, who said they fit his recollection of Killian’s state of mind at the time … 30 years ago.
Not only does this reveal a complete lack of journalistic ethics, which fails to surprise long-term Rather watchers, but also a callous disregard for the news organization that made him one of the most powerful media voices in the world. He just embarassed the broadcast organization that has long held itself out as the gold standard for television news, and he’s out in front today offering, essentially, the Nixon defense: Rather assures us that he says the documents are genuine and we should just stop asking about them.
Well, they’re not. They are demonstrably fraudulent, and if Rather keeps stonewalling on the issue, then CBS has a decision to make. Is saving Dan Rather worth the destruction of their news division’s credibility? Does CBS plan to endorse these journalistic standards, where the anchor can simply toss anything onto the screen without any serious vetting? Les Moonves may feel satisfied with that performance, but the shareholders at CBS will think differently when their viewers flock to news providers who do their homework before launching smear campaigns.
CBS released this statement a few minutes ago:

“This report was not based solely on recovered documents, but rather on a preponderance of evidence, including documents that were provided by unimpeachable sources, interviews with former Texas National Guard officials and individuals who worked closely back in the early 1970s with Colonel Jerry Killian and were well acquainted with his procedures, his character and his thinking,” the statement read.
“In addition, the documents are backed up not only by independent handwriting and forensic document experts but by sources familiar with their content,” the statement continued. “Contrary to some rumors, no internal investigation is underway at CBS News nor is one planned.”

Don’t expect this to be the last word from CBS. This is merely a stall tactic while they check the weather. If it starts pouring, you can bet that they won’t be holding the umbrella over Rather’s head for long.

Is The Chicago Tribune Cleansing Its Archives Of The CBS Scam?

NOTE: This post has been substantially updated — see below.
The blog Threshold -55 does some crack investigative work on the Chicago Tribune, which appears to be attempting to “disappear” the Killian-memo story from its archives. Beth and Terry explain how the ChiTrib (whose parent, I believe, also owns the LA Times) keys its archives to allow for searches and how that has been manipulated here:

A Threshold -55 examination of the Chicago Tribune website reveals that the newspaper appears to have quietly removed all references to a September 10th front page article that called into question President Bush’s military service during Vietnam.
The article, “Questions Raised About Bush Guard Service” has been completely replaced with a new article titled, “Bush Piloted Guard Trainers Before He Quit”. The new one tries to paint the President as a poor flyer who frequently required multiple approaches to land his jet.
The removed article makes passing mention of the doubts surrounding the authenticity of the CBS Dan Rather/memo debacle. But in a stunning twist of partisan reporting the Tribune plays down the doubts as they continue their never ending quest to discredit President Bush. Read the Threshold cached copy in full to see the hatchet job in action.
The bias of the AP article or that of the Chicago Tribune is nothing new to readers of Threshold. We wonder if it is possible that the newspaper changed the link to prevent people from making references to the original report. Perhaps the AP article is even too biased for the Tribune.
Eventually people outside the blog world are going to start questioning the credibilty of the major liberal media news outlets. This event will be long overdue.

Beth and Terry demonstrate cleverness and tenacity as they track down the missing and altered stories at the ChiTrib. Read the entire post, and marvel at the foolishness of the newspaper and its complete lack of understanding how publishing to the Internet affects their transparency.
UPDATE: No conspiracy, just the Internet and the difference between AP stories (which the ChiTrib doesn’t archive) and their original content (which the ChiTrib archives for seven days), according to the Tribune’s rep, Charles Meyerson:

As far as we can tell, Beth and Terry have confused one of chicagotribune.com Web site’s updating “pointers,” which present whatever AP’s editors consider the top stories of the hour (and which therefore have a brief shelf life, and which are not archived), with actual Chicago Tribune newspaper content, which lives on the Web for (typically) seven days.
In this case, the newspaper’s Thursday front-page story — which also led the Web site for hours on Thursday (with a photo of Bush) — can still easily be found here:
… or by searching chicagotribune.com for various combination of the words
bush “national guard” memos zeleny silva
(Zeleny and Silva are the co-authors of the story.)
No conspiracy here — liberal, conservative or otherwise. Just a continued commitment to a continually updated Web site that combines breaking news with the day’s print content, hindered by technological limitations that prevent the archiving of absolutely everything AP generates.

So the culprit on the shifting stories is not the Chicago Tribune but the AP, as it edits its feed during the day (I noted that on another story today). My apologies to the Tribune, and a hat tip to Meyerson, and Jim Manno for forwarding me the response.

Is Dan Rather Really Shell-Shocked?

Drudge reports that CBS has launched an internal investigation into the faked documents that 60 Minutes used to attempt a smear job on George Bush:

CBS NEWS executives have launched an internal investigation into whether its premiere news program 60 MINUTES aired fabricated documents relating to Bush’s National Guard service, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned. …
The source, who asked not to be named, described CBSNEWS anchor and 60 MINUTES correspondent Dan Rather as being privately “shell-shocked” by the increasingly likelihood that the documents in question were fraudulent.

If true, CBS News still has not updated its web site to inform its readers that the documents may be unreliable. If The Dan was truly “shell-shocked”, wouldn’t he want to pull the story off the Tiffany Network’s web site in order to keep a false story from spreading any further? Failing that, he could at least insist that some mention be made of the serious questions about the authenticity of the documents.
None of the above has yet occured, which leads me to believe that The Dan is less shell-shocked, and more likely calculating his vulnerability and who to pitch overboard as the sacrificial goat that saves his skin, if that becomes necessary. He won’t pull his story until it becomes obvious that the other media outlets won’t give him a pass.
UPDATE: Apparently ABC isn’t prepared to carry The Dan’s water for him on this one, guaranteeing that Rather will head into a sunset marred by dark, heavy clouds later this year. Nightline should be a must-see tonight.
UPDATE II: The Gray Lady isn’t covering up for The Dan, either.

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?


Stephen Hayes writes in a column just made public at the Weekly Standard that a group of independent document experts express serious doubts about the authenticity of the memos CBS used as proof of their allegations against the President. Hayes notes that one of the experts is a self-described Kerry supporter who nonetheless says he is “99% sure” that the memos were created well after their dating:

DOCUMENTS CITED Wednesday by 60 Minutes in a widely-publicized expose of George W. Bush’s National Guard Service are very likely forgeries, according to several experts on document authenticity and typography. The documents–four memos from Killian to himself or his files written in 1972 and 1973–appear to indicate that Bush refused or ignored orders to have a physical exam required to continue flying. CBS News anchor Dan Rather reported the segment and sourced the documents this way: “60 Minutes has obtained a number of documents we are told were taken from Col. Killian’s personal file,” he said. The 60 Minutes story served as the basis for follow-up news reports for dozens of news organizations across the country. …
“These sure look like forgeries,” says William Flynn, a forensic document expert widely considered the nation’s top analyst of computer-generated documents. … Several other experts agree. “They look mighty suspicious,” says a veteran forensic document expert who asked not to be quoted by name. Richard Polt, a Xavier University philosophy professor who operates a website dedicated to typewriters, says that while he is not an expert on typesetting, the documents “look like typical word-processed documents.” …
Xavier University’s Polt, in an email, offers two possible scenarios. “Either these are later transcriptions of earlier documents (which may have been handwritten or typed on a typewriter), or they are crude and amazingly foolish forgeries. I’m a Kerry supporter myself, but I won’t let that cloud my objective judgment: I’m 99% sure that these documents were not produced in the early 1970s.”
Says Flynn: “This looks pretty much like a hoax at this point in time.”

So far, between Hugh Hewitt’s on-air interview with Farrell Shiver, Hayes’ interview with his panel of experts, and INDC Journal’s interview with Dr. Phillip Bouffard, the only people still saying the documents could possibly be authentic is CBS News spokesperson Kelly Edwards. She has avoided commenting directly about the authenticity of the documents but instead insists that the opinions expressed on them matches up with the late Col. Killian’s sentiments at the time, according to unnamed sources. By the time Hayes attempted to contact Edwards, though, she declined all comment, saying that CBS had been “overwhelmed” with telephone calls.
“Overwhelmed” — it’s a great description of what this story will do to CBS News credibility if they don’t cough up their source soon.

Killian’s Son Suspicious Of CBS Documents

The son of the officer who supposedly wrote memos in 1972 and 1973 describing political pressure to make George Bush look good in the TANG says that he has suspicions about the authenticity of the documents:

The authenticity of newly unearthed memos stating that George W. Bush failed to meet standards of the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War was questioned Thursday by the son of the late officer who reportedly wrote the memos. …
Gary Killian, who served in the Guard with his father and retired as a captain in 1991, said one of the memos, signed by his father, appeared legitimate. But he doubted his father would have written another, unsigned memo which said there was pressure to “sugar coat” Bush’s performance review.
“It just wouldn’t happen,” he said. “The only thing that can happen when you keep secret files like that are bad things. … No officer in his right mind would write a memo like that.”
News reports have said the memos, first obtained by CBS’s “60 Minutes II,” were found in Jerry Killian’s personal records. Gary Killian said his father wasn’t in the habit of bringing his work home with him, and that the documents didn’t come from the family.

So now we not only have at least two of these documents using typefaces not available until many years after their dates, and only available on computers or expensive typesetting machines, but now Killian’s family denies CBS News claims that the documents came from the late officer’s personal files. That means the CBS source for the documents had no connection with the Killian family, calling the documents’ alleged chain of custody into question as well.
Why is that important? As long as the documents could be traced directly back to Killian and the personal files he retained after his retirement, then the fact that they were unsigned and used no letterhead could be explained away as personal memos for his own use — the “CYA” affect. Now that Killian’s family denies that they were the source, the lack of signatures and identifying headers mean that the documentation could have come from anywhere. They are, in effect, decertified.
Speaking of signatures, the Voice of Reason did a comparison of Killian’s signature from a separate document and came up with this graphic:
It doesn’t look at all similar, and as Voice of Reason notes, the two abbreviations for Lieutenant Colonel are different. Why would that be?
This fraud will have a dual effect of keeping every news organization from touching the TANG story again, and CBS will have to fire someone with a high profile to save face. Pull up a chair, get yourself some popcorn, and watch the meltdown continue.

Who Forged Bush Records?

CBS News and 60 Minutes claims that it has documents from George Bush’s TANG service that prove undue influence had been used to get Bush his excellent ratings. As one of the exhibits, CBS produced this internal memo, dated but unsigned and with no letterhead, stating: “Staudt has obviously pressured Hodges more about Bush. I’m having trouble running interference and doing my job. Harris gave me a message today from Grp regarding Bush’s OETR and Staudt is pushing to sugar coat it. Bush wasn’t here during rating period and I don’t have any feedback from 187th in Alabama either.”
As Power Line notes and Free Republic first saw, something is terribly amiss with this memo. Take a look at “187th”. The suffix is represented in superscript, which in 1973 could only be accomplished with a typesetting device — which in 1973 would have cost thousands of dollars, making it extremely unlikely to have been used for a simple memo like this. Also, take a look at the apostrophes. Typewriters use straight up-and-down apostrophes rather than curved (same for quote marks), and these are curved.
The only possible conclusion is that the document is forged, and forged fairly recently on a computer. The same is true with this document, again unsigned and without letterhead. Take a look at the apostrophe in “He’s” in paragraph 2. It’s another curved apostrophe, which again indicates a typesetting machine or computer program.
Someone has some explaining to do. And someone at CBS should be asking their crack investigative journalists how they managed to miss such suspicious material, especially since “memos to file” should be expected to have signatures, names, and some sort of letterhead.
UPDATE: Some commenters have said that they think the IBM Selectric/Executive models had curved single-quote/apostrophe characters. I disagree, having grown up using them. The typewriter only had one key for the single-quote/apostrophe character, and single quote characters often were used to contain text. Had the character curved to the left, the ball would have had to have another quote mark curved back to the right at the same time, for which no key would have been assigned. That’s why the quote marks on typewriters always went straight up and down. Curved quote marks and apostrophes could only be produced by typesetting machines — and computer word processors.