(Thanks to Norwegianity-in-exile for providing the link to this story)
So, we all know the facts. Dan Rather, working with information provided by Lt. Col. Bill Burkett through 60 Minutes producer Mary Mapes, aired a sensational story that there was definitive proof that George W Bush had at best been casual about his National Guard service. But brilliant and courageous right-wing bloggers quickly (like, so quickly that they had to have been supplied some assistance from the Bush White House) unraveled the truth: the documents were forgeries, proven by the fact that no typewriter of that era could possibly have typed them and that they could be reproduced by Microsoft Word.
The Washington Post in particular rushed the bloggers’ conclusions into print. Amid all the breathless talk about kerning, fonts, and proportional spacing, and cries of “Rathergate” from the right, official harrumphing about journalistic standards gave way to a commission which promptly found… well, not exactly anything except that Mapes and Rather had to go. There wasn’t any arguing from any quarter that they had rushed the story onto the air without properly vetting the documents, relying instead on the reputation of Lt. Col. Burkett. Alas, Burkett had not verified their provenance. Mapes and Rather were left to (metaphorically) swing.
But, of course, everything other than the fact that the source of the documents had not been established wasn’t true. The documents, if they were forgeries, were much better forgeries than the right-wing gave credit for. They could indeed have been produced by a typewriter of that vintage. That, in fact, was a more likely explanation than what the right-wing claimed.
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