Actual Malice

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse for CBS News, they do. Two document experts have now come forward to say that they were consulted by CBS, but warned the network that the documents did not appear to be genuine. ABC, which has played a creditable role in exposing the 60 Minutes hoax, reports:

Two of the document experts hired by CBS News now say the network ignored concerns they raised prior to the broadcast of 60 Minutes II about the disputed National Guard records attributed to Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, who died in 1984.
Emily Will, a veteran document examiner from North Carolina, told ABC News she saw problems right away with the one document CBS hired her to check the weekend before the broadcast.
“I found five significant differences in the questioned handwriting, and I found problems with the printing itself as to whether it could have been produced by a typewriter,” she said.
Will says she sent the CBS producer an e-mail message about her concerns and strongly urged the network the night before the broadcast not to use the documents.
“I told them that all the questions I was asking them on Tuesday night, they were going to be asked by hundreds of other document examiners on Thursday if they ran that story,” Will said.
But the documents became a key part of the 60 Minutes II broadcast questioning President Bush’s National Guard service in 1972. CBS made no mention that any expert disputed the authenticity.
“I did not feel that they wanted to investigate it very deeply,” Will told ABC News.

That’s my nominee for understatement of the year. To continue:

A second document examiner hired by CBS News, Linda James of Plano, Texas, also told ABC News she had concerns about the documents and could not authenticate them.
“I did not authenticate anything and I don’t want it to be misunderstood that I did,” James said. “And that’s why I have come forth to talk about it because I don’t want anybody to think I did authenticate these documents.”

Pathetically, CBS News tried to hold up the house of cards that is now rapidly collapsing around it:

“CBS News did not rely on either Emily Will or Linda James for a final assessment of the documents regarding George Bush’s service in the Texas Air National Guard. Ms. Will and Ms. James were among a group of experts we consulted to assess one of the four documents used in the report and they did not render definitive judgment on that document. Ultimately, they played a peripheral role and deferred to another expert who examined all four of the documents used,” the network said in a statement.

Sure, we understand. CBS consulted a group of experts, and all but one said the documents were a fraud. CBS took the opinion they liked and ran with it, slandering President Bush in hopes that they could help John Kerry win the election. It’s all sickeningly clear. Except it’s even worse than that: the “expert” referred to in CBS’s statement, who supposedly was the basis for the story, was Marcel Matley, who has gone to great lengths to disassociate himself from the 60 Minutes piece, and will tell anyone willing to listen that he did not authenticate the documents.
So CBS News was warned that the documents were forgeries, by at least two experts that we know of, while no one vouched for their authenticity. CBS News published them anyway, knowing that they were perpetrating a fraud.
From this point on, why should any of us believe anything that we see on CBS News?

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