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Wednesday, September 15, 2004
REAL AND FAKE? Maybe
Stirling Newberry was on to something after all. Last week, he
the possibility that the
contents of the Killian memos were genuine, but that the
printed documents themselves were generated some years later -
through retyping on a computer, through optical scanning,
Newberry also wondered whether CBS
might be unable to explain this without breaking a pledge of confidentiality. That still strikes me
as unlikely, given CBS's continued insistence that the documents are
photocopies of the originals. In fact, if you follow this line of thinking through to its logical conclusion, then Dan Rather's defense would have to be considered a knowing lie. I doubt that.
Now the Dallas Morning News
is reporting that the late Jerry Killian's 86-year-old former
secretary believes the documents are fake, but that the contents
accurately reflect real memos that existed at one time. Because I
don't feel like registering at the News' website, I'm linking
USA Today account.
Marian Carr Knox told the
Dallas Morning News after viewing copies of the disputed
memos, "These are not real," and that "the information in here
was correct, but it was picked up from the real ones." She
declined to be interviewed late Tuesday, but her son, Pat Carr,
confirmed her comments.
The newspaper said that Knox,
86, had precise recollection about dates, people and events. She
was critical of Bush, whom she called "unfit for
The memos, first reported last
week by CBS' 60 Minutes and obtained independently by USA
TODAY, were critical of Bush's performance as a pilot. They say he
sought special treatment to get out of required drills and failed
to get a required physical exam, and that there was pressure from
his commander's superiors to "sugar coat" his personnel
evaluation. Document experts have challenged their
Knox told the Morning
News that she did all of the typing for Lt. Col. Jerry
Killian, Bush's commander, and she did not type the memos in
question. The typewriters she used, a manual Olympia and later an
IBM Selectric, could not have produced the documents, she
Another former Texas National
Guard officer, Richard Via, also said that the documents were
fakes but that their content reflected questions about Bush that
were discussed at the time in the hangar at Ellington Air Force
Base, where he had a desk next to Killian's.
Via said he and others he
worked with "remember the physical, and him going to Alabama was
an issue." He said Killian "made notes and put them in his files
about things like that."
Killian kept the files because
"he was trying to cover his ass," Via said. "He was always worried
something would come back on him."
He said Killian's secretary
"would type them up, and he'd put it in his desk drawer and lock
I think we're getting very close
now. This is clearly the best news CBS has had in a week, although
unless the network itself can shed further light on this, it looks
kind of pathetic. It will still be in the position of having put
phony documents out there and then insisting they were authentic in
the face of much evidence to the contrary.
If it turns out that these are
retyped versions of real memos, that helps. But it doesn't reflect
well on CBS's investigative-reporting capabilities. In fact,
latest from Howard Kurtz,
in the Washington Post, only make it look that much worse for
Dan Rather and company. Drudge says CBS News is working on
sort of statement, and
perhaps it is.
In other Killian-related matters,
the Boston Globe today runs a correction
for the headline on its
"Authenticity Backed on Bush Documents." The paper says that head
"did not accurately reflect the content of the story."
posted at 11:07 AM |
Hey, Dan: about 100 bloggers and 50% of the corporate media bandwidth are already broadcasting every conceivable detail to this inconsequential memo sideshow.
Why not post some of the dozen or so other stories of real consequence:
- "I'm dying! I'm dying!" BBC camera records death of Arab reporter killed by US airstrike
- Rumsfeld tells troops some journalists are cooperating with terrorists
- Seymour Hirsch book alleges White House knowledge of Abu Ghraib torture
- leading 9/11 Widows endorse Kerry
- weblog "outs" 2nd gay GOP Congressman
- Bob Graham alleges White House cover-up of Saudi role in 9/11
- Turkey FM threatens to withdraw all support for US in Iraq over Fallujah bombings
- US General in Iraq publicly blasts administration's handling of insurgency
I second that. I've been following significantly less blogs and real news outlets since it began. It's a petty debate that has shifted focus not only from the Bush's character flaws, but away from anything that resembles actual journalism.
Besides footage of weatherman standing in hurricanes. They still find time for that.
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Dan Kennedy is senior writer and media critic for the Boston Phoenix.