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February 21, 2005

The Rathergate Forgeries: What If They Had Been Competently Forged?

I asked this question a long time ago, and concluded:

There is no fact-checking for anti-Republican hit pieces.

This particular forgery got exposed because it was sooooo amateurishly and ineptly done. Only because this forgery was so laughably crude did it get discovered.

But imagine if it had been a better job. And imagine if it had been something really damning about Bush. Still 100% false, and still coming from shady characters and the slimy undergrowth of the DNC, but competently-crafted forgeries.

The mainstream media would be running with the story. They would be running it 24/7. It's would be the focus of every press conference; it would be mentioned every night on the news, even via strained connections to reports having little to do with the "scandal" (as echoes of Abu Ghraib were seen by the press in practically every other political story).

We got lucky on this one guys. True, we had guys like Bill from INDC and LGF and the Powerline guys and those first Freepers who asked questions doing a man's job. But we were lucky that these "documents" were so transparently fraudulent.

I also quoted a story, running contemporaneously with the exposure of the forgeries, which admitted in passing the documents may be fraudulent but then demanded to know why the White House hadn't released these documents.

Consider that-- even as a reporter admits the documents are possibly forged, he demands to know why the White House did not release these "records."

So that should tip you off as to the MSM's reaction to competently forged documents.

Beldar Blog asks the question again, and spies through a crystal ball into an alternate future:

The absence of the documents from "official" records, plus the doubting opinions of near-witnesses, by themselves wouldn't have convinced many folks that there was a genuine question of the documents having been forged. CBS News might well have been able to continue to stonewall on the identity of its "reliable source" at least until after the election. (For a course syllabus in "Brazen-but-Effective Stonewalling 101," consult the John Kerry Military Academy; see also the Miller-Cooper Institute for Self-Righteous Journalists Concealing Sources' Identities on "Principle.")

Would this scenario have swung the election? I can see it swinging maybe one percentage point of the total vote. I have no reason to think that, for example, it would have swung a disproportionate number of Ohio voters, but a one percent swing there could have made things Florida-2000 tight. My gut tells me that it still wouldn't have changed the election's outcome, and that one percent is an overgenerous guestimate. But it might well have undercut the basis on which Dubya has been able to claim having a broad mandate, however, with resulting significant weakness in his second term.


And the media wonders why we both fear and disdain them.

It's because they are just as powerful as they so smugly assume they are. And that they aren't particularly scrupulous about using that power.

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posted by Ace at 10:47 PM

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