Via Barry Ritholtz, An article from Joe Hagan of The Texas Monthly reviews the Bush AWOL story and “Rathergate,” in which Dan Rather and producer Mary Mapes were driven from their jobs and blacklisted for daring to question whether George W. Bush served honorably in the Air National Guard.
While it won’t settle many controversies, it does definitively show how the right-wing attack machine, willing to tell any lie to protect their candidates, successfully shouted down people who tried to tell the truth about the memos used in Dan Rather’s report:
the man officially credited with inspiring a fusillade of blog attacks was Harry MacDougald, known on message boards as Buckhead, a GOP lawyer in Atlanta who missed the segment but downloaded the Killian documents from the CBS website later that night. He specifically claimed that the memos used proportional spacing and superscripts that didn’t exist on typewriters of the early seventies.\
MacDougald’s arguments about the documents turned out to be inaccurate. He acknowledged as much in an interview with me in 2008. And in a speech given that same year, Mike Missal, a lawyer for the firm that CBS hired to investigate its own report, said, “It’s ironic that the blogs were actually wrong. . . . We actually did find typewriters that did have the superscript, did have proportional spacing. And on the fonts, given that these are copies, it’s really hard to say, but there were some typewriters that looked like they could have some similar fonts there. So the initial concerns didn’t seem as though they would hold up.”
So the memos could have been real. Yes, Mapes and Rather failed to vet them adequately. But if making that kind of mistake were the criterion for who could work in news, how does that compare to FOX News posting an Onion story as a legitimate news story?
Mahabarb, one of the few sane voices at the time, stands vindicated. The Washington Post, which abused its standing to protect Bush, stands indicted. The right-wing simply does not care if the man they put in the White House is a drunk, a liar, and a coward, as long as he doesn’t raise their taxes. They are willing to kill this country for a dollar.