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September 10, 2004

Dan Rather: Partisan Liar

The "defense" was the most dishonest thing I've ever seen.

I can only do this quickly and sloppily. You'll have to fill in the details. Truth is, I didn't want to do it at all -- I just wanted to link someone making the points I wanted to make -- but I don't see anyone making these exact points, so here goes.

(Lots of mispellings and capital letters coming up-- I gots little time for bolding. I'll pretty it up later.)

1) He did not deal with any of the difficult issues-- no discussion of proportional spacing versus mono-space, nor of kerning.

2) He said that only "internet political partisans" were calling the documents fakes. He deliberately did not reveal to his audience that experts in the field cited by ABCNews, AP, etc., had also stated the docs were forgeries.

3) He dishonestly conflated the existence of a TYPEFACE with an actual TYPEWRITER using that typeface. Yes, Dan, typesetters have had hundreds of typefaces to select from for 100 years. But only a small fraction of those typefaces were available as typewriter font-- the question everyone's asking.

Rather deliberately gave the impression that typewriters featuring NTR had been around since 1931. From what I know -- and I'm no expert -- that's just not true, and the fact that Dan Rather did not specifically say that typewriters used NTR since 1931 makes me sure I'm right.

Why state something craftily when truth is on your side?

4) I believe he dishonestly conflated the special small-size superscript everyone's talking about with the routine typewriter function of just turning the cylinder a half-turn to raise a FULL SIZED LETTER half-way up from the main line. That's been possible for 60 years-- just as Dan said. But that's not what we're talking about. We're talking about small-font superscripts which could only be typed with special keys.

Those, too, were probably available on some custom-balls. But Dan dishonestly suggested this was a routine feature.

5) His expert was a handwriting expert. He was not competent to speak about typefaces generally. I suspect this was by design.

6) Dan Rather lied again when he said his own handwriting expert was "bothered by the same sorts of things that troubled the internet critics," and then he listed poor copy quality and degradation of sharpness during reproduction as the "things" the "internet critics" were bothered by."

Has anyone ONCE cited the poor quality of the reproductions as evidence of their falsity? No, no one has. Dan Rather lied to imply that what we were all so bothered by was the simple loss of sharpness through repeated copying. Anyone watching the show who wasn't informed in this debate would think, "Oh, duh, of COURSE quality will degrade, is that what all the fuss was about?"

No, ma'am. That is most emphatically not what all the fuss was about.

7) Administrative Officer Strong, who was supposedly the big human witness who could confirm the genuineness of the documents, could only confirm the the documents followed military format and spoke of "issues" and "names" that might have been written about in such documents.

He seemed to have no real personal knowledge of Killian specifically, nor of Bush, nor any specific reasons for believing these documents were genuine. He could only state things in a negative fashion, i.e., "I can't see any reason to think they're forgeries." But his inability to cite any specific POSITIVE evidence for believing they're genuine shows that he's a witness who pretty much doesn't know anything.

If you ask me "Is there anything in this bear's stool that strikes you as odd?" I will say "No."

Nope. Nothing strikes me as odd.

Also, nothing strikes me as not-odd, either.

Nothing strikes me at all. It's bear-poop. Kopro incognito.

8) He then trotted out an anti-Bush author to "confirm" the documents were true because they (paraphrase) "agree with what we already know."

Glad we're above dealing with "partisans," Dan!

9) This is the last piece of dishonesty-- Dan Rather, who previously claimed to be breaking new information, is now claiming that his "new information" is credible because it simply repeats "what we already know" -- but if it's what we already know, it's not new information.

He's trying to prove the credibility of the information by bootstrapping-- it's new stuff that adds to our knowlege of Bush's TANG service, and the reason we know it's genuine is that it's old information we already know.

Oh, no, that won't quite work, Dan. Anything new -- and these documents DO contain lots of new information, that's why you deemed them, you know, news on Wednesday -- cannot, by definition, be authenticated by saying that the old information says the same thing.

The old information did not say the same thing, Dan.

This will not stand.

PS: When I say it was just about the most dishonest thing I've ever seen, I mean that-- and I include politicians' lies in that mix.

What made this defense so outrageous is that it utilized all the usual petty dishonesties of political deception-- refusing to even acknowledge the questions you can't answer, dwellling on those few you can, deliberately conflating distinct terms to confuse an ill-informed audience, etc.

He was lying like a politician-- a very noxious one.

And yet he's "the media" -- the one we're supposed to trust. The disinterested, neutral, ojbective fair-and-balanced down-the-middle no-nonsense hard news man.

He's a liar. And not a particularly convincing one.

Ironically enough, he reminded me of Nixon tonight-- Nixon, just before the final "V" finger wave.

Update! Nick Kronos weighs in on Rather's dodgy defense.

digg this
posted by Ace at 07:57 PM

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