Last week the CBS News program 60 Minutes (Wednesday edition) interviewed Ben Barnes, a Texas Democrat, who says he got George W. Bush into the Texas Air National Guard. They also disclosed that they had obtained documents that reveal that Bush received favourable treatment while in the Guard.
Since then right-wing blogs have been relentlessly trying to discredit the documents (in part I think to distract from the cold reality of the Barnes interview). In fact, they were quick off the mark to do so. This passage from ABC News The Note (a daily round-up of political news and comment) from the Friday September 10 edition suggests maybe they were just a little too fast off the mark:
“…in the war that will ensue about WHO gave CBS the potentially phony documents, it is interesting to Note that the right (Drudge, Fox, right-leaning blogs, others) led the way in pointing out the questions we have all been asking — and they were onto the questions, with remarkable detail, relatively soon after the documents were made public. (my emphasis)
Here's part of how this story got here . . . from a little Marc Ambinder back-lurking on the blogs . . .
At 8:00 pm ET Wednesday night, CBS News does the story . . .
at 11:59 pm ET (8:59 pm PT), the documents come into question via a poster named Buckhead on the Free Republic Web site:
Buckhead seems well-read on his forensic document examination skills.
"Howlin, every single one of these memos to file is in a proportionally spaced font, probably Palatino or Times New Roman. In 1972 people used typewriters for this sort of thing, and typewriters used monospaced fonts. The use of proportionally spaced fonts did not come into common use for office memos until the introduction of laser printers, word processing software, and personal computers. They were not widespread until the mid to late 90's. Before then, you needed typesetting equipment, and that wasn't used for personal memos to file. Even the Wang systems that were dominant in the mid 80's used monospaced fonts. I am saying these documents are forgeries, run through a copier for 15 generations to make them look old."
Well, this is bandied about by dozens of Freepers, as they're called and is picked up at 8:30 am ET and added to by www.littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/ — this little green football guy is a very popular conservative blogger . . .
It's expanded upon by www.powerlineblog.com/ in the early morning:
and also by www.spacetownusa.com/hmmm
and here, at 10:36 am ET: www.allahpundit.com/.”
If the documents are discredited the only campaign that will suffer is Kerry’s. That suggests to me that if the documents are proven to be a fraud, it was the Bush team that planted them.
Kevin Phillips, in his remarkable book American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush, writes on page 147 that Bush poltical advisor Karl Rove was a great reader of Machievelli, who was quoted as follows: "The great majority of mankind is satisfied with appearances, as though they were realities." Says it all I think.
The best blogs from the liberal side of the spectrum who have been monitoring developments on this have been Kevin Drum and Atrios.
Update: CBS now says they have reason to doubt the authenticity of the documents but the identity of the source of the docs appears to be well hidden, consistent with the hypothesis that it could be Rove. And it turns out that "Buckhead" is a well connected Republican lawyer in Atlanta.