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Tuesday, September 14, 2004
BOUFFARD DENIES GLOBE
ARTICLE MISREPRESENTED HIM. Last Saturday's e-mail
exchange between forgery
expert Philip Bouffard and a Web site called INDC
Journal was one of the
weekend's sensations. Linked by everyone from Slate's
Mickey Kaus to
"InstaPundit" Reynolds, the
exchange was cited by many on blogging's right wing as evidence that the
Globe was hopelessly biased in John Kerry's favor.
Bouffard had been quoted in the
New York Times and the Washington Post last Friday as
saying that it appeared the Killian memos had most likely been
produced on a computer - pretty clear evidence of forgery if true.
But on Saturday, the Boston Globe quoted him as saying he had
since learned there was a possibility such memos could have been
typed on an IBM typewriter of early-1970s vintage.
A scoop! But in a subsequent e-mail
to INDC Journal, Bouffard
said, "What the Boston
Globe did now sort of pisses me off, because now I have people
calling me and e-mailing me, and calling me names, saying that I
changed my mind. I did not change my mind at all!"
Now, though, Dr. Bouffard says his
only objection was to the Globe's headline, "Authenticity
Backed on Bush Documents."
In an e-mail to Media Log, Bouffard says:
As far as the Boston Globe
article, I never saw it until recently, and was only made aware of
anything by the hate mail that I received. I also had one sender
who later called back to apologize after reading the story, and he
e-mailed me the story. My position at the time that I talked to
the Boston Globe was that I was checking out some new information
sent to me that the [Killian] Memos were (or could have
been) created on a Selectric Composer. Further research indicates
that it could not be, but it needed to be looked into. It appears
that the headline for the Globe story was misleading, otherwise
this person would not have called back to apologize after reading
the article. INDC called for clarification before any of this
occurred, asking if I had changed my mind about the authenticity,
which I hadn't because, in my mind, I was not certain from the
beginning. INDC evidently wrote their story based upon my reaction
to what turned out to be the headline for the story.
An e-mailer to INDC Journal had
this to say: "I think it is time we designated the Globe as our
secondary target in this effort. I hope you tell the good Doctor that
he might want to consider each publication before he grants an
interview, as there are leftist snakes laying in the
Now Bouffard's clarifying remarks
cast this in an entirely different light.
Bill Ardolino, the blogger behind
INDC Journal, tells Media Log by e-mail:
Well, that's a bit
surprising, as I presented his raw remarks without any alteration.
I can somewhat understand why Bouffard would say that part
of the story is ok, though, because the body of the Globe's
story quoted him with complete accuracy, if possibly selectively
(as I highlighted on my blog). Unfortunately, it was the
headline that was an outright lie. In no way was the
"authenticity backed" by Dr. Bouffard. The fact that that is
deceptive is beyond question.
I understand that different
tones and presentations can be subjective. That's why my
communication with the Globe's [ombudsman] has stressed
the outright mischaracterization in the headline, not the
body of the article.
Mark Morrow, a deputy managing
editor at the Globe, says that Bouffard also spoke with
reporter Francie Latour (co-author of the Saturday piece) on Monday
night. "He told her that having read the story now, that he has no
problem with our story now, that he doesn't feel that he was
misquoted in any way," he says. Morrow's remarks are consistent with
what Bouffard told me.
As for the headline, which did in
fact wrongly make
it appear that Bouffard had changed his views, Morrow told
me, "We might address the headline, which was more emphatic than the
story was, and may have been the source of the tenor of the comment
on the piece" - reference to the blizzard of criticism to which the
Globe has been subjected since the weekend.
This doesn't change the fact that
CBS News did an incredibly shoddy job of vetting the authenticity of
the four Killian memos. This
Washington Post story,
by Michael Dobbs and Howard Kurtz, is absolutely devastating to
But the notion that the
Globe did Dr. Bouffard wrong in order to throw a lifeline to
Kerry can now be put to rest.
posted at 3:02 PM |
Nice work, DK!
Dan, the WaPost article is actually quite weak, and like most of the overly excited comments on this alleged forgery, Dobbs and Kurtz omit countless salient details, instead focusing only on the points raised by those crying forgery.
Documents produced by the Guard as examples are irrelevant since Guard officers routinely created or filled out documents off base. I know because I've worked with countless similar documents from that era in my work as a resume writer. Guard documents are notoriously inconsistent. Even in Bush's authenticated files I have noticed documents that were updated with as many as five or six different typewriters. In my own work I have found that not even paper size is reliably consistent.
But the fact that documents like this were created off base alone means that you have to rule out virtually every make and model of typewriter then in existence before you can say authoritatively that the memos were fraudulent. An insurmountable task, IMHO. Especially given the fact that "expert" Brouffard had to backtrack when asked about Selectrics, as he had none in his extensive collection.
The only thing I know for sure is that my Selectric would do true superscripts and many other Selectric users from that era remember that capability. And, the differences in fonts are far more subtle than the online "experts" seem to realize, while at the same time the similarities in the same font produced on different platforms or devices is uniformly consistent (I wouldn't say a perfect match is possible between a mechanical and inkjet or laser printer, but the match would be far closer than what we see with these documents).
Given how well these documents fit into what is already known, and how little they add to the case against Bush, I think it's fair to say the doubters have to produce some more compelling evidence before their concerns amount to anything more than a minor caveat. If they are forged, they represent the most pointless and unnecessary forgery imaginable.
It is sadly humorous that Dan Kennedy’s story contains the same fundamental defect as the Boston Globe article. The title of Kennedy’s article presents an absurdly distorted version of its contents. To explain why it is important to first realize that the title of a story is the most important brief set of words in an article. Readers often skim text or read only the initial section of an article. They assume that the title is a reliable guide and a terse summary of the contents.
The Boston Globe article was entitled "Authenticity Backed on Bush Documents." This title was woefully inaccurate because the story only presented weak claims such as the availability of certain typographical elements in the 1970s. The expert, William Flynn, discussed in the article was certainly not backing the authenticity of the documents. He continued to maintain that it was ''highly unlikely" they were produced in 1972 or 1973. This directly undercuts the title of the article. The devastating overlay match between the forgeries and modern Microsoft Word documents was already widely known. Expert computer typographers also knew why this match demolished claims of authenticity.
The Globe article title also misrepresented Bouffard’s statements because he never backed the authenticity of the Bush documents. Initially, he expressed suspicions about the documents and then he simply indicated that he was planning to perform further analysis to see if the IBM Selectric Composer could have created the documents. (He has now concluded that even this expensive and unwieldy contraption could not have generated the forgeries.)
Deep in Kennedy’s article he finally admits the following about the Boston Globe story, “As for the headline, which did in fact wrongly make it appear that Bouffard had changed his views.” This startling phrase should be in the lead paragraph of Kennedy’s analysis. This is the heart of the story, and this is why the Globe article is must be viewed as a distortion. The title was completely wrong. Kennedy buries this powerful admission deep in his article.
Now we come to the title of Kennedy’s article “Bouffard Denies Globe Article Misrepresented Him.” But this title is also egregiously inaccurate. In fact, Bouffard is quoted in the article indicating that the “headline for the Globe story was misleading.” Summarizing, Bouffard suggests that the most important text in the Globe article is wrong and Kennedy’s article headline implies the exact opposite. Two terrible headlines and the yet bias remains invisible to some. Dan Kennedy has done much fine work. Here he is blind.
Dan you could make a living analyzing the Globe. Today's issue has a piece on the Bush guard issue in which Anne Kornblut headline reads "questions still persist". You have to go down to nearly the 16th paragraph to find any reference whatever to the "authenticity" of the 60 Minutes documents. For three days the Globe felt this story was so significant that it filled the front page. Now that there is virtually no question that a leading network news anchor was either duped or is a willing participant in a blatantly partisan attack, the Globe can find no room to cover it. I guess their hel wanted section is still useful.
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Dan Kennedy is senior writer and media critic for the Boston Phoenix.