Dan Rather stands behind his reporting on Bush’s National Guard service, defending the disputed documents and explaining that the story was not based primarily on these documents anyway (see Seeley below).
More significant news: in a story published before this whole staged brouhaha erupted, US News & World Report (a generally conservative newsmagazine) has concluded in a meticulously-done piece that Bush did not fulfill his National Guard requirement:
“Using this standard, Bush’s records show that during the fiscal year of July 1, 1972, through June 30, 1973, Bush fell significantly short of this requirement to do inactive duty, obtaining only 36 points that year. He fared worse the following year, gaining only 12 points. Even if one uses May, the date of his induction, as the starting point in the points calculation, President Bush falls short of the minimum number of weekend drills required by his military service obligation his last two years.”
I think that “Masaccio” on Brad DeLong’s comments has summed up “typewritergate” perfectly:
I have spent years doing anti-fraud work of various kinds. We often speculate about this kind of stuff, is a signature like another, is this type-face like another and so on. Only once in my career was I right. We will not know if it is a forgery based on the kinds of analysis I see in the media, here and elsewhere in the blogosphere. Either the source is trustworthy, or not.
And for the rest of it, even talking about it is playing into the hands of the creeps from the right. Don’t do it. Let them rage against the night. It makes them happy if we play the game. Don’t even talk about it. Ignore them like you would Patrick R. Sullivan or Adrian Spidle or any other troll. Let them go play with each other.
It’s a fake controversy invented by desperate people. It is claimed that the supposedly-forged document “matches perfectly” with a document generated by Microsoft Word, but it doesn’t. It is “sort of like” a document produced in Word, but the match is very fuzzy, as you can see here. And if you’re wondering, THAT is the killer evidence that you’ve been hearing about for the last 24 hours.
(If you want to sneak a look, Geraldine Seeley at Salon has a lot of interesting stuff (find Sept. 10, 16:32 PDT and page down). It turns out that two of the story’s document experts have dirty hands, and the PR firm handling the fake forgery controversy also handled the fake Swiftboat controversy.)
ABC’s “The Note” (Sept. 10: find ” President Bush and the National Guard: the politics of the documents”) has a chronology of the attack on the Killian documents. The attack started with a piece by “Buckhead” on the Free Republic just three hours after the Rather show ended. The Freepers bounced the story around for awhile and the next morning Little Green Footballs picked up, and it accelerated from there.
“The Note” speculates that the documents were forged and a Republican plant, but more likely the White House had forwarded the materials they got from CBS to the relevant operative. The swiftness of the response is not unusual — it reminds me of the trashing of the Wellstone funeral. I really can’t believe it was all done by unpaid volunteers.