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January 13, 2005

Rathergate Report: Worse Than You Thought

It's one thing to punt on the question of political bias-- one can understand that even had Dick Thornburgh felt he had evidence of such, he was also working in partnership with a registered Democrat, and furthermore such a charge might simply be taken as partisan, resulting in the factual content of the report being more dismissed and ignored by the Legacy Media than it alread is.

But as Jonathan V. Last explains, there's no excuse possible for the report to shamelessly wank out on the central question of the documents' falsity.

As the Panel's expert (and all other experts) have concluded:

... the documents appear to have been produced in Times New Roman typestyle. . . . Times New Roman was only available on typesetting and other non-tabletop machines until the desktop publishing revolution in the 1980s. Therefore [Tytell] concluded that Times New Roman could not have been available on a typewriter in the early 1970s and the Killian documents must have been produced on a computer. [emphasis added]

Which brings us back to Joseph Newcomer. After all of his examinations, Peter Tytell had reached exactly the same conclusion as Newcomer. And, like Newcomer, Tytell's judgment to the panel could not have been more forthright. The panel reports, "Tytell concluded that the Killian documents were generated on a computer."

So how did Thornburgh and Boccardi manage to walk away from their own expert's decisive verdict? The answer is hidden in footnote 16 on page 7 of Appendix 4:

Although his reasoning seems credible and persuasive, the Panel does not know for certain whether Tytell has accounted for all alternative typestyles that might have been available on typewriters during that era.

That's very much like saying we can't be certain Sirhan Sirhan killed Robert F. Kennedy because no one searched Rosie Greer and other members of RFK's entourage for a weapon at that fateful rally.

At whose behest was this ludicrous agnosticism on the documents' obvious falsity included in the report? Boccardi's? Or was it perhaps at the direct request of the CBS News organization, from which the Panel was ostensibly "independent"?

If the Panel still had questions about whether all possible hypothetical magical typewriters had been examined, why didn't they simply ask their expert to examine these outlandish possibilities, and provide a definitive answer?

Oh, wait, he did provide a definitive answer:

Therefore [Tytell] concluded that Times New Roman could not have been available on a typewriter in the early 1970s and the Killian documents must have been produced on a computer.

An answer ignored by the Panel in its effort to allow Dan Rather's position -- maybe they're real; who can know for sure? -- to continue standing.

Related: Roger Simon is outraged enough to accuse Thornburgh of lying.

I can't say the charge is out-of-bounds.

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posted by Ace at 01:59 PM

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