So says Dan Rather, in this Hollywood Reporter interview. I have generally found Rather an endearing character, to the extent I’ve paid attention. It’s hard not to sympathize with his desire to keep working as long as someone is willing to pay him, or with his claim to be an “independent” commentator on the news.
There are two problems with Rather’s world-view. The first is that, while he may or may not be an independent, he is most surely a liberal, and his liberal political philosophy has informed his work throughout his career. The second is that, as to the 60 Minutes/National Guard story that brought his career to a crashing halt, he is in outer space:
THR: But were the National Guard documents authentic?
Rather: I believe they are authentic. I believed it at the time, I believe it now.
THR: So all the people who have pointed out, for example, that the particular font on the documents didn’t even exist back then, they are wrong?
Rather: I’m glad you asked about that because, unfortunately, there has been a lot written and said about it, saying they were bogus, they were forgeries, none of which has stood up. But I do want to come back to the documents being just part of the story. The core of the story — what a journalist tries to do — is get the truth, or as close to the truth as possible. We did that. Our story was true.
Rather’s claim that none of the critiques of the faked documents has “stood up” is ridiculous. To take just one example, the documents are in Times New Roman font–this is the point the questioner was getting at–but that font, while ubiquitous on today’s word processors, was never licensed for use on any typewriter. Rather keeps saying that the critiques of the fake documents haven’t “stood up,” but he never addresses them in any substantive way. Nor has anyone else. The 60 Minutes documents were not only fakes, they were obvious fakes.
That’s not to mention the fact that no one even pretends to know where they came from. CBS got them from a Democratic Party activist and renowned Bush-hater named Bill Burkett. Burkett was never able to explain where he got them; first he said that they came from a mysterious “Mr. Conn” who had since departed for Europe. But Conn, when finally tracked down, said he had no idea what Burkett was talking about. Burkett then admitted he had been lying about Conn, and offered as an alternative a ridiculous story of getting a phone call from someone he’d never heard of called “Lucy Ramirez,” who instructed him to go to the Texas Livestock Show. He did so, and stood around for a while; he didn’t see any sign of Ms. Ramirez, but some guy came along and handed him an envelope. Burkett says he took the envelope home and it contained the fake documents. He says further that he copied the documents and burned the originals. This is significant because, not only was the typography obviously the fruit of modern word processing, not early-70s typewriters, if the original paper existed it could be tested and shown to be of recent manufacture. When USA Today tried to interview Burkett about this bizarre story, he had a nervous breakdown.
So Rather’s suggestion that the CBS documents are somehow authentic is pathetic. More important, the content of the documents was contrary to a number of known facts. To take just one of many examples, Brigadier General “Buck” Staudt had retired from the Texas Air National Guard a year and a half before one of the fake documents has him intervening on behalf of Lt. Bush.
Most important of all, CBS’s “story” was not true. No strings were pulled to get the young George Bush into the National Guard as there was, at that time, no waiting list for pilots. (The Thornburgh report notes that Mary Mapes had this information in her file but suppressed it when she put together the 60 Minutes story.) Lt. George Bush, far from being a slacker, put in around three times the number of required hours over the course of his service in the National Guard. And Lt. Bush was an excellent pilot. We have posted his National Guard evaluations, which were glowing. According to his superiors, Bush was both a first-rate pilot and a natural leader.
The truth, notwithstanding Dan Rather’s ongoing attempt at a cover-up, is that CBS’s attack on Bush’s National Guard record is a sickening artifact of today’s political climate, in which, on the Left, anything goes.
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