Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 27, 2005
By: Kevin Drum

RATHERGATE UPDATE....I don't know what the rest of the book says, but if the first chapter of Mary Mapes's new book is any indication, she's still clinging to the notion that the infamous Killian memos that were broadcast on 60 Minutes last September are real. Mapes was the producer of that segment, and in her forthcoming book she recounts how she felt after bloggers began questioning the authenticity of the documents:

I talked to our document analyst Marcel Matley, now back in San Francisco....And he pointed out something that would be a huge problem for us in the days ahead: that in the process of downloading, scanning, faxing, and photocopying, some computers, copiers, and faxes changed spacing and subtly altered fonts. He thought that this basic misunderstanding of how documents changed through electronic transmittal was behind the unfounded certainty and ferocity of the attack on the documents.

....But I thought Matleys belief that a technical misunderstanding was behind the ferocious attack was too good to be true.

I was afraid that this time Matley, who was an experienced document analyst and longtime expert witness, was out of his element. He knew a great deal about documents and signatures. But I knew attack politics.

For chrissake. Yes, it was attack politics, but there were plenty of good questions about the appearance and provenance of the memos that were legitimate regardless of who was asking them. The memos were typed in a proportional font with a centered header, something virtually impossible for a small office in 1972. Killian's secretary who believes George Bush is "unfit for office" has testified that she typed all his memos and did so on two machines with fixed pitch fonts. She also says she never typed the memos that 60 Minutes aired. Bill Burkett, the source of the memos, is a stone Bush hater, the farthest thing imaginable from CBS's original description of him as an "unimpeachable source." What's more, Burkett's story didn't even make sense to anyone who had followed this story for a while which Mapes had and he later admitted that he had lied about where he got the memos.

This is ridiculous. Mary Mapes went to air with a story that was full of obvious holes and hadn't been checked adequately. There is tons of evidence that the memos are forged and not one single piece of evidence suggesting they're real. If Mapes is still trying to defend them, she's delusional.

And for any of the rest of you still holding out hope that just maybe the memos are real after all, let me put it this way: the evidence that they're genuine is about equivalent to the evidence that Intelligent Design is a better theory than evolution. If you're part of the reality based community, it's time to face the facts on this.

Kevin Drum 1:18 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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