Oink update

Oink update

: After the post below on the political piggies wallowing in mud, I got lots of comments and email continuing the slinging and also going on about the alleged forgery of the Bush documents used on 60 minutes. Two points:

First, yes, CBS did quote and link to all the questions prominantly on the CBSNews homepage. They say they’re still standing by the story. I have no way to know who’s right, who’s innocent, who’s guilty, who’s scamming, who’s not. Which leads to my second point:

I still don’t care. It’s all about mud. I don’t care about the mud. If, as Rex says in the post below, all the mud that has been slung is true it’s not going to make a difference in how I view these candidates — and it’s only distracting from the debates we should be having. It’s just mud.

Another commenter suggested I should push the debate to those other topics. When I did that on health care a few days ago, good discussion ensued. I’ll try. The only problem is: I’m no expert on any of those topics. That’s why I’m hoping to find bloggers who are going to be better than me at leading those discussions. So what I really want is links to the folks who know about and are talking about — from each perspective — health care, jobs, the economy, homeland security, and education … the issues that all matter one helluvalot more than mud.

The mudslinging is coming from media, campaigns, 527s, and bloggers — they’re all guilty of slinging crap instead of debating issues. I had hoped that we bloggers would be holding them all to a higher standard and, yes, I’m harping on that. Go read Rex’s post again.

: LATER: Having had the time between meetings to read more of the stories about the documents….

Yes, bloggers should be proud of exposing what, indeed, looks like a hoax. This is a great power of blogs — and I wish they would do it more often. Fact-checking the asses of media and politics should be part of our mission.

Yes, CBS should not only quote those reports and link to them but also respond more fully and immediately. Every second that clicks by on that 60 Minutes stopwatch is another degree of credibility shot.

Yes, CBS should now put its investigative powers toward find out and revealing who perpetrated the hoax. I do not assume it was CBS; I assume instead they were dopey and duped.

Yes, if anyone in the news organization is found to be complicit with a hoax in any way, it is a scandal that tops Jayson Blair by miles and harms the credibility of not only the network but also the industry. I doubt this will be the case but who knows?

Yes, CBS should vow to get to the bottom of this and make that vow quickly and publicly.

But, no, I still don’t care about the would-be Bush or Kerry military scandals. I still say it’s all about mud. I still say it’s distracting and destructive.

  • Don Mynack

    So, let me understand what you are saying here, Jeff. Bloggers correctly calling B.S. on a bogus story is somehow “mud slinging”? In what way? If a blogger was concocting fake documents about a candidate and trumpeting them as real, then I guess said blogger would indeed be “mud slinging”, but how you can blame the blogsphere when all they did was call out a questionable news story? I don’t get it.

  • yo

    I hear this arguement about wanting to discuss health care, education, etc. But what do these arguements actually sound like? You have Kerry on the Daily show saying he wants to talk about them, and that is the only discussion, “I want to talk about them”. Then a commercial. When they are discussed, it’s typically in the fashion of “Bush lost x jobs, I’ll creat y jobs”, or “we need to fund education more”. Is that really a discussion? Has anything ever been gained through listening to candidates give bullet point memorized 2 second long discussions on “issues”? I don’t see it. Do we really pretend that a real in depth discussion on policy and law will ever take place, and has it ever in the scope of a campaign? I realize CATO and other institutions put out detailed reports and papers on these issues, but has a campaign ever done this and then actually debated it with the other? Point is, folks can say they want a real discussion about the real issues, but they really don’t want to spend the hours necessary to have that dicussion in a manner that would really mean anything or bring any new info to light.

  • steve

    Well, I hear what you are saying but do you really think we should IGNORE the story of a major network news show attacking the president on the basis of documents that SEEM to be forged?

  • Tom

    I think I agree with Don on this – I’m not pontificating about the person(s) who might be behind forged documents – I’m covering it from the perspective of a MAJOR media outlet possibly being duped – in a story about the President. It’s a “story” in my book – I don’t care about saying it’s a left wing this or a right wing that – someone stating that x is a fact because of y on-air is a story.
    As for the rest of it, mud-slinging-wise – I agree wholeheartedly. It’s a joke and proves why political debate in this country is, for the most part, ridiculous and….over….unless you have a sandbox and a hose.

  • Jeff,
    You weren’t an expert on health care but you obviously enjoyed the discussion. So… lead by example. Change the subject to the issues and let’s just have a go at it. You’ll pull in experts, as happened in the health care thread, and the conversation will remain on the issues. All to the good.
    And thanks for listening – I enjoy your site!

  • Steven

    Most people seem fed up with mud-slinging in politics. But then again, most people end up voting Democrat or Republican. The state of affairs will not change until there is reason to change. All a Dem or Rep needs is to get nominated and they have a 50/50 chance of being elected, with the swing being determined by who slanders better. The only way to change their strategy is if an independent candidate wins an election. Someone who is intelligent and reasonable and can defend their position without evasion. A Dem’s only competetion is a Rep, and vice versa. And when you are competing with a monkey, the winner is the one who can sling the most crap. Until a homo sapien (intelligent man [or woman]) enters the picture and wins, politics will be little more than a soap opera. We have always had the power to change this, yet we never will change this.
    If you’re not voting independent, then shut the hell up about the state of politics in America. Choosing between 2 cadidates is not a choice, it is a coin flip. Why else are the polls usually around 50%. This is not a statistical coincidence.

  • Matthew Cromer

    The documents are obvious, pitiful forgeries. Every forgery expert willing to use his name has stated that they believe the documents are forgeries. Anyone familiar with typewriters and computers who reads this post at powerline and looks at the documents can tell these are gross, stunningly incompetent forgeries.
    Somehow, to me, it seems that making up BS about a sitting president and circulating fake documents is slinging mud, but pointing it out is absolutely appropriate.

  • I’m going to echo others. This is not about mud-slinging. It is about a major media outlet possibly using forged documents to further a story.
    For me, the story is not whether the documents came from the Kerry camp or Karl Rove or some magic fairy godmother. I don’t even care about Vietnam or George’s AWOL problems anymore. It’s about accountability from the media. It’s about the carelesness of CBS and the underlying notion that they were in such a rush to jump on a bad story about Bush that they didn’t even check the documents out.
    That’s not mud, Jeff. And you, as a media person, should be the first to realize what the real story is here.

  • MDP

    Jim Treacher: “The last 36 hours are the best, clearest example of citizen journalism I’ve ever seen. I figured Jeff would feel vindicated.”

    I think Jeff may be confusing two somewhat distinct issues:
    1) Bush did/didn’t renege on his service obligations.
    2) A CBS source did/didn’t forge documents to prove Bush reneged on his service obligations.
    Jeff thinks the first issue is bogus and unworthy of discussion. Fair enough. But even if Jeff’s right about that, isn’t it still obviously a big deal -if- someone forged incriminating documents, which CBS and the rest of the MSM then presented to the public as the genuine article?

  • Yup. This is the media’s Watergate. CBS is just the tip of the iceberg. The AP’s bogus “Bush Crowd Booed” story is another prime example.

  • HT

    Jeff: I’m not a nationally recognized expert, but I am an avid typist (still have both manual and electric typewriters around just for fun), and was a typesetter in the 1970’s (as part of a larger job as business manager for a small newspaper).
    I’ve reviewed all the evidence, and the memos are forged. It is physically impossible for any typewriter from that period to have produced the text as it is, given the degree of match with the Microsoft Word version. Yes, there were proportional spacing machines, but mechanical limitations mean that their version of the document would not have the same line length, line breaks, or total length as the Word version. There are a couple of other equally conclusive pieces of evidence, but this one by itself is sufficient.
    With that established, this moves beyond the realm of the charges themselves (which were pretty feeble and should have been ignored), and into the much more significant realms of forgery, dirty tricks, and the complicity of mainstream media in same.
    Since pulling stunts like this cuts to the heart of the credibility of whoever is behind the forgery plot and the major media outlets who fell for it, it is highly relevant to the campaign. If Kerry’s campaign had anything to do with this, how can you believe them on any other subject? If mainstream media was stupid or duplicitous or arrogant enough to run with this story, what other stunts are they capable of?
    These are definitely issues that need to be investigated and discussed. Sorry that you don’t see it that way.

  • Regarding a discussion of the issues…
    I don’t think you should look for other bloggers who are more expert. Here’s why:
    1) If you host the discussion here and it proves traffic-worthy, then others might emulate for a desire to mimic. Multiple blogs, multiple posts, multiple threads, bigger footprint on the election.
    2) An “expert” might sway the discussion and weigh in with a heavy hand, thereby sidelining discussion unintentionally. Better to have someone who can instead ask honest “Joe Everyman” questions. If we want expert opinion, your readers might invite knowledgeable bloggers to join the discussion, which gets back to point #1.
    3) It helps you to retain your “reliable centrist” label. You lead by example, stay clear of the mud, and actually show some great conversation on your site. Good marketing for BuzzMachine.
    Food for thought. As for format, just ask the question:
    “Bush and Kerry have different plans for [issue]. The links for their plans are [link] for Bush and [link] for Kerry. Read up, everyone. Which is better? Why?”
    You push the education of your reader, invite open comment, and then sit back and watch it evolve.
    If blogs are conversation, Jeff, then get the conversation started. And more: why not invite some of your media friends to weigh in on the conversation? Have them participate and knock down some of the walls between them and bloggers. You have said that you want media and bloggers to cooperate together. How can use this conversation to help mend fences and bring the two together in a productive way?

  • chuck

    I’m sticking my fingers in my ears and going la-la-la.

  • Wayne Moore

    “I still don’t care.” Thank you, Jeff, for that phrase. It explains why you and your opinions are no longer relevant even better than your huge Stern archive.

  • Can any journalist provide some background info?
    1) Who makes the decision to go with a story like this?
    2) Is Rather just a talking head, has limited to oversite, or micro manages the process?
    3) What role does a producer typically play in a story? Are they one man bands, do they have team under them, or is it some other type of organizational strucure?

  • JJ, I think you’re trying to argue a finite pie of conversation, as if talking about forged documents, or any other scandal, precludes talk of all else.
    In between posts about the forged documents, Little Green Footballs posted another “Palestinian Child Abuse” update. It’s another topic that’s of interest to them, and talking about the forged documents didn’t stop them from talking about the other subject. You seem to be implying, though, that the forged documents and scandal are sucking all of the air, not out of the room, but the entire universe.
    In between posts, not so many people are talking about the subjects you’re aching for. Why? Because we know for the most part where Bush stands on them, and challenging Republicans on those specific topics is an ancient and well-worn Democratic saw that most people aren’t interested in right now. If Kerry had something truly new and original to say about those topics, it might create discussion, but otherwise, it’s the same-old, same-old. Kerry is probably for some kind of socialized medical care that liberals will like (no specifics); Bush has passed a type of socialized medical care that Republicans will live with (AARP approved). Woo. What’s to discuss?

  • Pretending to take the middle ground between right and wrong, truth and falsehood – does not make you a “centrist”.
    At best, it makes you a fool. At worst, it makes you a conduit for evil.
    Pretending the story is about “mud-slinging” is disengenouos. It’s not.
    It’s about the meltdown of media credibility, and it has repercussions that will extend well beyond this campaign, casting doubt on the reliability of all reporting, past and present, that these outlets have presented.
    If CBS missed something this obvious, this easily refuted, what else is out there that we’ve been fed as “authenticated”?
    I for one, am continuing to re-examine all my former assumptions that have been based upon sources in the main stream media. I’ve simply lost confidence – the instances of misreporting and outright deception are too blatant, too outragious to assume they are recent developments.

  • HE

    Jeff you do not care that Dan Rather, CBS and a whole host of other media sources are in the tank for Kerry doing everything, including being conspirators in document fraud, to see Bush lose?
    You don’t care? You call this “mudslinging”?
    But Stern is above the fray right?

  • Yo is right, Jeff. All the people who are sick of the mud slinging just keep repeating that we should be discussing the issues but never discuss the issues.
    If you want to get back to the issues, stop posting fluff and start posting about the issues.

  • Just got a perfect example of what I’m talking about on ABC radio… Kerry was somewhere or other intoning loudly that Bush is putting the interests of big pharmaceuticals, etc, ahead of the interests of the common people (paraphrased).
    This is not an invitation to debate; it’s not a conversation starter. It’s a smear, and it’s the usual smear that we hear *every* *single* *time* *around*, just like the “they don’t care about children and want them to starve” smear and “they hate poor people and black people” smear.

  • Another commenter suggested I should push the debate to those other topics. When I did that on health care a few days ago, good discussion ensued. I’ll try. The only problem is: I’m no expert on any of those topics.
    Jeff, you’re an expert on media. That’s why we want you to weigh in on the forgery scandal.
    This would matter whether the forged documents showed that John Kerry spied for North Vietnam, that Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction was intentional, or that Glenn Reynolds is a closet Auburn fan. Okay?
    You’re the media guy. This isn’t about Bush. This is about CBS. Why do you think it doesn’t matter?

  • JR

    I lost confidence a long time ago in our MSM. They are just too bias and it shows when they report the “news”. I just want the facts, I do not need anyone to interpret “it” for me. Also, they should be more conscientious in making sure the “facts” are true. I am talking about all stories, not just the re-election news.

  • Kim

    What a pigsty.
    Jeff – I read these and I was hoping others would chime in with some new blogs focusing on your issues but alas, more mud.
    Economics blogs:
    My favorite is Dr. David Tufte voluntaryxchange.typepad.com and his classes blog here econtufte.blogspot.com and by all means check out the rich econ links. I also like billhobbs.com (Jeff, you may have to wallow through some mud to get to the econ posts but still a good read).
    I like this blog for Bioscience, Physics, Space, Environment and Nanotech (some homeland security too).
    Homeland Security Blogs:
    A daily chronicle of homeland security news affecting the news media and the public’s right to know.
    Health Care Blogs
    Matthew has other health related blogs linked on the right I always visit too.
    Education Blogs:
    mentalhiccups.blogspot.com – Brand new blog and I love it.

  • shell, Jeff is weighing in on the forgery scandal.
    That’s the beauty of blogs: they make everything much more transparent. Our thoughts are exposed, others’ thoughts are challenged…
    The world is much more honest with blogs.
    Jeff hosted a successful and civilized conversation about an issue in which he had no expertise. It was very enlightening and I believe that most patricipants really appreciated the dialogue. Near the end of that discussion, I suggested that he do this with other issues. I’ve suggested it again today. Jeff acknowledged it, but replied that other bloggers should do this and not him. Why? For lack of expertise? He applauded the first one, and he’s no health care professional. How was that not successful? He wants issues to be the center of this election, but he has more posts about mud in the campaign than he does about issues.
    Bring on the issues, Jeff. Lead by example.

  • Many have said this in the comments above, but I have to echo it: This is a media story.
    If it is proven the CBS ran a story based largely on fraudulent documents, and this was revealed by the blogosphere, it’s exactly the kind of story I come here to read about.
    Forget politics (for now, at least). It’s about the media.

  • pdq332

    Here’s why there’s more to this pig story than just the “Oink” :
    Edwards wants Bush to address Guard memos
    Published: Friday, Sep. 10, 2004
    NASHUA – President Bush should have to explain newly released records that reveal his former Texas National Guard superior was asked to

  • h0mi

    I’d love to add somehting to this discussion but the above comments say it pretty succinctly.
    This may have been about trash, mud or frivilous things, originally. But it’s blown up into something far worse- a media outlet portrayed forgeries and defends them as legitimate documents in an attempt to hurl mud at the president. And apparantly the documents came from the Kerry campaign.

  • Dishman

    I think this one has gone beyond mud, and even well beyond the election, as many have commented here and elsewhere. There appears to be blood in the water, and it doesn’t appear to belong to either Bush or Kerry.
    The election isn’t the issue here, it was just the catalyst.
    Jeff, I believe your insights and expertise could serve to increase the quality of the analysis here (in the blogosphere).

  • pilar

    You wrote earlier of Islamic fundamentalist attempt to derail elections in Australia by blowing up civilians in Indonesia.
    CBS is now refusing to investigate the documents in questions. What if CBS is complicit in that they knowingly ran a story with unauthenticated documents and compromised sources, doesn’t that constitute an attempt to derail an election by the Fourth Estate? Shouldn’t I care?
    I noticed that Putin has agreed to investigate the terrorist act in Beslan. If it is a genuinely open and well reported investigation, it will do Russia a world of good. Russia stands a better chance of improving their security services and confronting the challenges for having done so.
    An investigation into CBS’s practice of journalism would also serve this country well. This story is no longer about Kerry but how our media MAY be complicit in attempts to derail elections.

  • pilar

    You wrote earlier of Islamic fundamentalist attempt to derail elections in Australia by blowing up civilians in Indonesia.
    CBS is now refusing to investigate the documents in questions. What if CBS is complicit in that they knowingly ran a story with unauthenticated documents and compromised sources, doesn’t that constitute an attempt to derail an election by the Fourth Estate? Shouldn’t I care?
    I noticed that Putin has agreed to investigate the terrorist act in Beslan. If it is a genuinely open and well reported investigation, it will do Russia a world of good. Russia stands a better chance of improving their security services and confronting the challenges for having done so.
    An investigation into CBS’s practice of journalism would also serve this country well. This story is no longer about Kerry but how our media MAY be complicit in attempts to derail elections.

  • rivlax

    Sometimes you are just so damn disappointing. This is one of those times.

  • MD

    I’m afraid I disagree with you on this one (which is unusual. I appreciate that you want to discuss issues without mud-slinging and I appreciate the non-partisan way in which approach the issue).
    This is different. I don’t care what happened to Bush or Kerry 30 years ago either. But this is the citizen journalism you are touting at all these conferences at it’s finest – fact checking work put out by the major media. I thought you wanted a conversation? Well, you, or anyone else, can’t dictate the conversation, Mr. Jarvis. It has to happen honestly and freely or there is no point in it.
    I’d like to stick to more important issues than all this AWOL/Medal business but I most definitely appreciate the fact checking nature of blogs. If CBS has made some mistakes, even in good conscience, the mistake should be corrected. It’s about the conversation, remember?

  • Tom

    I thirty-second most of the preceding comments: A story about the possible failure of a major media outlet to check its sources — perhaps out of eagerness to smear a particular candidate — isn’t mudslinging.

  • chuck

    I’m sorry Jeff, but if you don’t care about lies, you care about nothing worthwhile. I know your world continues to crumble, but suck it up.

  • Toppenish

    I can only add my say along with the some of the others above. I’m really surprised and disappointed that you don’t see the significance of a major network like CBS using forged documents to bolster a story, any story.
    The subject of the story–whether Bush, Kerry, or something else entirely–shouldn’t matter. The issue here is the integrity of our major media. This really does matter.
    I suppose the media can’t waste time invesitigating every time anyone cries “forgery!” but the evidence in this case is very strong and really deserves an answer. CBS’ and Dan Rather’s response is inadequate. If I interpreted Dan Rather’s statement correctly, his point is that it’s the issues the documents raised, not their accuracy, that should matter. I totally oppose such an attitude and must distrust any journalist who ascribes to it.

  • Jeff,
    The question of mudslinging in the documents may be fair ground to ignore, but as a member of the media who is trying to bring openness and more responsibility to the industry this story cuts to the heart and soul of what you often write about.
    On May 11, 2003 (http://www.buzzmachine.com/archives/2003_05_11.html) you said “I am a reporter; I have been a reporter for more than 30 years; I love reporting.
    And I hate reporters who lie.” That is the more important part of this story did 60 Minutes lie or were they lied to and then not do the background research? Do a google search of your own site and you see the Blair case mentioned numerous times. This is another of them, ignore the mudsling at your will, but if you stand for media reform then I don’t believe this is a story you can ignore.
    In the end of course it’s your blog and you can choose to write about anything you want, but those of us who visit to see an insider trying to improve the industry perspective on things this case is just as important as Jayson Blair.
    It’s not about Oink, it’s about responsible journalism.

  • Mike

    Jeff, you can not characterize this forgery story and the subsequent blogging about it “mudslinging”. That is way off the mark. The whole blogosphere was created as a response and a voice of reason to balance and keep in check the MSM. You can crow all you want about not caring about Bush’s and Kerry’s service 35 years ago, and if that was the only thing to come out of the 60 minutes episode then your post would be accurate.
    But ask yourself this, if these were forged negative documents about Bush’s health care policies or his plans for Iraq, or possible ties to 527’s or big corporations (granted they would be much harder to forge and claim authenticity) but just play along. Would you still be reacting to this story as “mudslinging”?

  • superfly

    What does this story have to do with mudslinging? I can see how it does somewhat with the info the forged memos contain, but isn’t 60 minutes and Dan Rather using possibly forged documents a legitimate issue. IF true, this ranks up there with Dateline blowing up a truck and then blaming the explosion Dateline caused on the truck manufacturer.
    Dan Rather and CBS may have knowingly used forged documents to slime the reputation of a sitting president two months before an election. Even if they did not know it at the time and this is all just a screw up on there part, they still have not released the source of the documents or the names of the supposed experts who verified them. If I was in CBS’s position and I had made an honest mistake about the documents or if I was sure that they were real (like Rather still claims), I would have released the names of the persons who gave me the documents and the names of the “experts” who had verified them. So far CBS has not done this. I wonder why that is.

  • Jeff,
    One of the reasons I read your blog is because you are an ‘old media fart’ who seems to get blogging. I can’t believe you’re not all over this story: major media outlet broadcasts falsification, gets it’s ass handed to it, factchecked and all in less than 12 hours, by a bunch of bloggers armed with Google and MS Word.
    So what if the falsification has some relevance to the U.S. presidential race? That’s not even the point! This might be another one of those “Trent Lott” moments, only bigger, and you’re ignoring it! Not good for your credibility…
    As to the issues in the election campaign, go right ahead and post about them, if you think your readers are more interested to hear about them from you than from some other blogger.
    Although then you’d just be another journalist talking about things he doesn’t know much about. I guess I’d rather read blogs by teachers, economists or nurses when it comes to education, deficits or healthcare.
    But this story: right up your alley! Blogs vs. Big Media, sounds Buzzmachine-worthy… Go for it, if you dare!

  • superfly

    There is also the issue of whether or not a crime was committed. From what I understand, it is a crime to forge some military documents. It is also a crime to knowingly give false information to a federal official and CBS gave these documents to the whitehouse. I do not know all the relevant laws, but these issues need to be addressed as well and the forger(s) may need to go to jail. Is the reason that CBS is standing by its story to avoid criminial prosecution?

  • superfly

    I consider myself fairly libertarian (generally in favor of drug legalization, small goverment, low taxes, etc.) and have even voted for some libertarian candiatates when I had no other choice I liked, actual liberatarian party members seem rather nuts.
    The following are some choice quotes from the Badnarik Blog referenced above by Doug about how Bush is the real tyrant (note as of this date the Tyrant Bush’s stormtroopers have yet to shut down Badnarik’s blog or arrest him or even pay much attention to him at all, they must be falling down on the job):
    “When we consider (just to name a few) the Patriot Act, the plight of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, the unconstitutional war in Iraq, illegal search and seizure practices, the infringement of our right to keep and bear arms, dead Americans as a result of the denial of their right to use the medications they need to survive, unconstitutional use of executive orders, the attempt to deny people the right to marry whom they choose, and torture at Abu Ghraib – it is astounding to me how anyone might not understand the tyranny imposed on us.”
    “With George Bush in office, over 1,000 Americans have died in a land far from home – while our civil rights are quickly eroding away. In the view of most, these are the “murderous actions” of a “real tyrant.””

  • Fred Z

    Jeff – repent, please, please, please. Your critics are right. Criticizing a mudslinging Rather for trumpeting forgeries is not mudslinging. This is a huge story, and right up your alley.

  • I agree with Fred Z, The Rather/CBS issue is just the death of the old media in progress. Their lies can’t outrun the fiber optics. I’m surprised you aren’t all over this, you usually pick up on the blogosphere pushing important stories while the mainstream ignores them.

  • D.L. Meadows

    So how about:
    “Yes, if the democrats are somehow involved in this it should also be exposed.”
    And how about:
    “Yes, if the democrats are involved, and the Kerry higher-ups were aware of this, it WOULD make a difference to me in the presidential contest”
    You cannot just lay this whole possibility at the feet of CBS, just as the dems (behaving like their mascot, the jackass) can’t now hold a press conference to accuse Karl Rove! Come on, your comments are just plain moral relativism! It DOES matter.

  • MWB

    Paraphrasing Jeff slightly:
    “Yes, bloggers should be proud of exposing what, indeed, looks like inconsistencies, exaggerations and outright falsehoods in the main qualifications Kerry cites for his presidential aspirations. This is a great power of blogs — and I wish they would do it more often. Fact-checking the asses of campaigns and politicians should be part of our mission.
    Yes, the Kerry campaign should not just reassert their previous talking points but must respond more fully and immediately. Every second that clicks by without taking questions from the press is another degree of credibility shot.
    Yes, Kerry should now make ALL of his military records, and his Vietman journals available for review. I do not assume they will hurt him; I assume instead he has been dopey and tin-eared.
    Yes, if Kerry or anyone in his campaign is found to be complicit with deliberate falsehoods in any way, it is a scandal that harms the credibility of not only the candidate but also the party. I doubt this will be the case but who knows?
    Yes, Kerry should vow to give a straightforward accounting of this and make that vow quickly and publicly.”

  • I think the mudslinging involved is from those willing to believe what they want to believe regarding CBS – and then putting that opinion forward as FACT.
    Do you REALLY want to get all your news from blogs? Because 99 percent of it is opinion. I’d say this story IS about citizen journalism – but that would be a highly counter-productive assertion if it all comes to a wrong conclusion (Memos – fake) – as it has been many times before.
    Memos fake? That’s a HUGE charge. But based on conflicting expert testimony, you’re going whole hog against CBS. I can’t respect that. Anybody who thinks, truly can’t respect that. CBS has a lot to lose. You, commenting on a blog, do not.
    If “old media” didn’t matter anymore, you wouldn’t spend so much time declaring, “it’s dead.”
    (You in the general sense)

  • Kat
  • MWB

    “But based on conflicting expert testimony, you’re going whole hog against CBS.”
    Actually, I think the memos are fake based on the testimony of my own eyes, my own experiment with the default settings of MS Word, and my 20 years of experience in graphic arts and typography.
    I’ve been around long enough to remember stripping in corrections and updates on typeset galleys. It was hard enough to match line breaks, leading and kerning when that’s what you are trying to do. To believe that a memo typed on even a sophisticated typewriter in the early 70s would just happen to precisely match the default settings of MS Word in 2004 strains credulity beyond the breaking point. These memos have MS Word’s fingerprints all over them.
    What’s your basis for declaring “Memos-fake” a “wrong conclusion”?

  • rand 4

    Jeffy doesn’t like criticism. Wouldn’t want to rock the Wolcott-lover’s boat.

  • Walter Wallis

    The REAL question is – who is the idiot in the Democrat party who decided to bet the farm on this issue?

  • Robert Brown

    Regardless of the unsavoriness of the subject, it seems to me that the CBS documents are almost certainly crude forgeries. That leaves the following possibilities:
    1) CBS did an unbelievable sloppy job of fact checking (in a season when all media should be hypersensitive to dirty tricks).
    2) CBS did not check the authenticity of the documents because it didn’t care if they were fact, they wanted a sensational story for ratings and/or to pay back Bush for the swifties.
    3) Someone at CBS forged the document to help their story.
    Whatever the truth, heads should roll at CBS. As Andrew points out CBS has a lot to loose and it appears they have made the decision to stonewall and hope this story goes away.
    I heard a defender of CBS of TV tonight refer to bloggers as “people sitting around in their bedrooms in their underwear” or something like that. Perhaps if you would take interest in this story you, with your journalistic legitimacy could keep CBS from succeeding in their plans?

  • Jeff, have you considered a vacation? Seriously — a vacation from your job, from blogs, from Stern on the radio, from tv, from anything to do with “the media.” Take advantage of the rest of summer and go to a beach cottage (or, considering the hurricane season the Atlantic is having, rent a cabin in upstate New York, some place where there isn’t a lot of people). Because I think you are suffering from information overload, and that is causing you to think that this example of standard investigative journalism — which the members of the news media used to work at before they became “important” — is the same as a mud-wrestling trollfest over the latest thing Kerry’s bitchy wife said.

  • Oh, and whoever the cute troll calling itself “rand4” and “jeff loves james” is who thinks it’s funny to drop moronic comments here so Jeff can say “look, you see! mud!” — could you please drop dead? Thx so much.

  • AH

    You were right about one thing, Jeff: Mork & Mindy was a laff riot.

  • Plenty of people have shown they can easily reproduce the memos in MS Word, but so far no one has even tried to reproduce them on a vintage 1972 typewriter. While I’m sure it is not the easiest thing to find a working 1972 typewriter, it would seem reasonable that CBS would want to find an expert that could reproduce the documents.

  • Claudia

    My mistake – I thought you were a media critic with expertise on the new media.

  • Angus Jung

    “Plenty of people have shown they can easily reproduce the memos in MS Word, but so far no one has even tried to reproduce them on a vintage 1972 typewriter.”

  • Angus

    Jeff, this story isn’t about Bush and the ANG any more.
    It’s about who created and promulgated a forgery in an attempt to influence the election.
    This quite separate issue really should have no influence on the election unless it is shown that members of either campaign were involved.

  • Kat

    From Instapundit:
    (Bloggers ARE the checks and balances.
    Driving along today and listening to talk radio mention LGF and Powerline, with others was just a terrific experience today. Finally, a real use for the Internet.
    Not everyone is as pleased.)
    And when blogs are being linked to as far as Norway, leftist media may have at last met its match….bloggers to hold them accountable. Thank God.

  • Hailey

    forget the hoaxes and start sending sms poems

  • John

    Thanks for the updated recognition that the bloggers should be given credit for blowing holes in an apparent fraud, Jeff. The positive side of this for the rest of the election is, IMHO, that all the mud you’re complaining about is less likely to have an impact in the election because a scandal like this calls into question any “surprise” discoveries or allegations (though obviously this specific case hurts Kerry more than Bush).
    If those on both sides decide the public has tuned out to “mud” as far as it influencing the voters, there a chance you might see less of it in the final 1 1/2 months of the campaign (which suits me fine as a Bush supporter, since I think a campaign pairing his four year record as president versus Kerry’s 20-year record in hte senate works to GWB’s favor).

  • BigFire

    Re: Tom
    Yep. Jeff Harrell together with IBMComposer.org did try to make as good of an approximation as they can with a IBM Composer. The key to making the subscript th is that Gerry Kapalan (of IBMComposer.org) have to swap out the type ball and put in an 8 point ball. That’s all. Oh, you do have to put back the 11-point ball type ball back for the rest of the documents.

  • Jeff,
    I’ll agree with you – I have not made my choice on what the candidates did 30 years ago. I occasionally find these things interesting – for about a day. Then, I get sick of them and wonder what plans Bush has for the present day military. *sigh* We definately need to discuss that more.
    In fact, the only reason I’m following this story is to see what happens to CBS. I could care less about “Bush was AWOL redux ad nasueum” – if that’s all this was about, then I wouldn’t care one iota. Again, its CBS’s credibility – if that goes downhill, it will be interesting to see what happens from there – if they can prove themselves, however, fine. (They haven’t made a good showing of it thus far, though.)

  • re: BigFire
    Thanks for the link. I was hoping someone would take a crack at this.
    After reading the post, if a $3,600 (1972 dollars) IBM Selectric Composer couldn’t reproduce the memo then it’s hard to see how anyone could possibly still think these memos are real.
    Now the question becomes, what is CBS going to do?

  • J.R.

    Jeff, your ignorance to this story and lack of response to the commenters here is disturbing. I always figured your blog would challenge the old media, keep them in check. I guess I was wrong. I’m disappointed that you won’t treat this as a shining moment in the blogosphere. A moment where blogs have single-handedly taken down a major news organization. You should be all over this. Step off your political soapbox, this has nothing to do with mudslinging, and start grilling CBS and Dan Rather.

  • Ric Locke

    Jeff, nobody wants to debate the issues because we cannot debate the issues.
    We cannot debate the issues because the arguments are not being transmitted among the arguers; they are instead being elided, misrepresented, and distorted. It is useless to discuss, e.g., relative merits of health care proposals when the proposals visible to the debaters are not those made by the principals but redacted versions produced by people with an interest in who wins and who loses.
    Shall we debate the misrepresented versions of the issues we actually see? Why bother? No useful result can come from it.
    If the MSM will not faithfully represent the proposals and statements we are supposed to debate, we are left with nothing. And that is the issue here. I can think of none more important.
    Ric Locke

  • pianoman

    I had to drop Sully from my weblogs because his centrism imploded under the crushing weight of his allegiance to gay marriage. Now it appears the same thing is happening to BuzzMachine. I could be reading this wrong, but it looks like Jeff is allowing his Kerry allegiance to trump not only his common sense, but also his unwavering support of the “New Media”.
    In this case, “New Media” has been ground into a fine powder. Instead of lauding the collective efforts of the blogosphere in exposing a fraud in less than a day, Jeff is plugging his ears and singing the National Anthem.
    So long, Jeff. Your blog was interesting until you lost your head over Stern and the FCC. Now you’re a broken record. And if you vote for Kerry after all this, well…. posting rules prevent sentence completion.

  • RJ Bruce

    carsonfire brings up the notion of a “finite pie of conversation” and tosses it out using LGF as an example. In the realm of blogs, you do have a huge ‘pie of conversation’ and bloggers can and will post about their pet topics in addition to the lead news story at the time.
    But you have a problem on the attention side, not the production side. Even with things like RSS readers, round-ups, and major clearing-house sites to help me efficient consume, there’s only so much time in the day to read up on news. Probably 75% of what I’ve read in the past 48 hours has been about the TANG story and the CBS credibility meta-story. I’m reading the same ~40 blogs (plus following links to dozens more) that I normally do, but I’m seeing little on the other big issues of the campaign. The internet is an essentially infinite medium, but you still have attention constraints…both for those creating content and those consuming it. And right now a tremendous portion of both those ‘pies’ are devoted to issues that are not–for example–the Bush doctrine, health care, the economy, welfare, social security, etc.
    And the problem is more dramatic when you turn to TV, radio, and print. There is a very finite pie in these media. Before the conventions we had the SwiftVets, and it was hard to find another other story or policy debate on any of the cable round-table shows. Now this, and we’re still so early it’s unclear how it’ll play out on cable.
    I don’t think the TANG story has any bearing on who’d be a better President (we’ve got four years of President Bush to judge, do we need to know about his TANG time?). I do think the media (AP, CBS, et al) credibility stories are tremendously important. But I don’t want all the other issues to get dropped off the table until this one plays out.

  • A shame to trivialize blogging by such a series of pretended authoritative analysis of … typewriter technology? Rather did a good job last night of providing the basis for accepting the newly uncovered documents relating to shrub’s lack of service. Yes, I’m a Molly Ivins fan. (I think one of the significant comments I’ve hears was relating to the fact that no one easily gives up his pilot rating. There had to be a pretty good reason for not wanting to take a physical exam which is generally pretty routine.) However, the fact that a significant number of blogs was awash with anti-media commentary and that Rather felt the need to establish his factual background is downright impressive. I would hate to see blogs as a legitimate commentary be diminished by irrational perverseness.

  • MWB

    “The Revolution will be blogged…”
    but not by Jeff Jarvis, apparently.
    (Too messy, don’t you know? Sniff.)

  • MWB

    “pretended authoritative analysis”
    What would constitute genuine authoritative analysis, to you?
    “Rather did a good job last night of providing the basis for accepting the newly uncovered documents..”
    I saw it. Must have missed something. Can you elaborate?

  • Mumblix Grumph

    Sorry, Jeff.
    You can’t sweep this one under the rug with a blanket “You’re all piggies!” pronouncement.
    Kerry’s people stepped in this one with both feet.
    Don’t follow them in.

  • To establish credentials, one usually presents a Curriculum Vitae which includes previous work and education, published work, suchlike. Rather presented his experts, and their evidence, and previous documents produced which showed the characteristics being criticized but were authorized by the administration when they were produced. Q.E.D.

  • MWB

    Rather presented one handwriting expert who declared the signatures genuine, as far as he could tell. He had little to say about the memos themselves. But Rather also admitted that CBS has only photocopies, not the original memos. So nothing this expert said counters the possibility that a genuine signature was pasted in to a forged memo before photocopying.
    Was there another expert presented? There was a “college professor” (from what college we are not told) who had an administrative role with the Texas ANG who made some general comments that the memos accord with his opinion of how things worked back then. And we saw an admittedly anti-Bush author who said the memos accord with what he already believes about Bush. No CV given for either of these men.
    Rather showed a superscript “th” from another memo, which counters the claim that superscripts weren’t possible back then, but this has not been a dominant claim of the blogosphere investigators. And the genuine superscript shown does not match the ones on the disputed memos.
    Rather says the Times New Roman typeface has been around since the early 30s. True enough. But was it available on typewriters, rather than typesetting machines? He doesn’t say.
    On the blogosphere side, Charles Johnson presented the earliest, most convincing evidence that the memos were forged. He recreated one of the memos using the default settings in Microsoft Word, and posted visuals on his blog (littlegreenfootballs.com)
    Is Charles Johnson just a blogger who sits around in his pajamas? Judge for yourself:

  • Hope

    For a bunch of would be detectives and fact checkers you are a dense lot. Jeff posted this early, went into a meeting and presumably didn’t get back to a computer till the late update. To which he said
    “Yes, bloggers should be proud of exposing what, indeed, looks like a hoax. This is a great power of blogs — and I wish they would do it more often. Fact-checking the asses of media and politics should be part of our mission. – and – “Yes, if anyone in the news organization is found to be complicit with a hoax in any way, it is a scandal that tops Jayson Blair by miles and harms the credibility of not only the network but also the industry. I doubt this will be the case but who knows”?
    Not good enough for the blood thirsty crowd, right? Look at your nasty comments towards him. The ones cloaked in concern are really stupid. Use your brains, what was on Jeff’s mind late last night – this topic that’s been beat to death – or – the Anniversary of 9/11. Where is Jeff today? There is a person behind the blog. What a heartless lot you turned out to be.

  • Ruth,
    Your solid belief in CBS is a shame, because it’s going to fall. Hard. The reason is that the story won’t die and CBS will have to admit these were forgeries. They were, and the evidence shows that clearly.
    I don’t say this because the bloggers will force the issue. I don’t say this because Bush’s campaign will force the issue. I say this because all of the other TV media outlets can prove these were forgeries without a doubt and will then hope to pick up CBS’ collapsed market share – for almost no money expended.
    You might be a big ABC fan in a couple of weeks.

  • MWB

    Jeff’s a big boy and can take the sarcasm (some of it mine) as well as he dishes it out many days.
    But you’re right. Today is not the day.
    Thanks for the reminder.

  • Ruth, with all due respect, you’re an idiot. I suspect that you are no one that anyone has to prove jack to, so you can take your demand for curriculum vitae and degrees and whatnot (what do you want, someone to show you a master’s degree in typing?) and shove them where the sun don’t shine.
    Hope: September 11th is one of the few subjects that Jeff can still write rationally on. That doesn’t mean we have to build a shrine to his feelings and ideas on any other subject — or even that one, if it comes down to it.

  • Angus Jung

    “A shame to trivialize blogging by such a series of pretended authoritative analysis of … typewriter technology?”
    Yeah, examining facts and evidence, what a waste. Everybody knows it’s impossible for laypeople to collect information that hasn’t already been verified by a major news source, so why even bother? Get real, people!

  • Angus Jung

    “Jeff, your ignorance to this story and lack of response to the commenters here is disturbing.”
    I’m not sure I understand what Jeff’s talking about either, but he’s under absolutely no obligation to respond to anything in these comments. Hectoring like the above is one of the reasons people get rid of them.

  • BigFire

    Folks, it’s Jeff’s blog. It’s his dime that pays for the bandwidth and hosting. If he feel that he doesn’t want to cover an issue for whatever reason, it’s his blog and he can do as he please. Unless you’re cutting a $5000 check to him on a monthly basis, you have no say on what he says.

  • Kat

    One for the bloggers:
    {The Bush memo story has shown the Internet’s broader power of linking thousands of readers together, as much as it has demonstrated the intrinsic power of blogs themselves.}
    {“Blogs have been characterized as places where people just go to mouth off, but what this brings out is the ability of blogs to actually help report a story,” said Paul Grabowitz, professor of new media at the University of California at Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism.
    The incident could help legitimize the role that blogs and other nonprofessional online writers are already playing in the everyday business of news reporting.}
    While this story may destroy Dan Rather’s credibility, it has done the opposite for bloggers.

  • Of course the mud is incidental, but for CBS to use forgeries to push a political candidate in a presidential election is a big, big story. The death of the old media to follow.

  • There are two things I take exception to in comments on this blog. First, people who post idiotic “I’m not going to read your blog anymore so NYAH!” posts. JJ’s opinion is his opinion, and it’s not to be bullied by crybabies. If you’re bored with a blog, just stop reading it, don’t make Drama Queen announcements.
    The second thing I take exception to is Hope’s assertion that this is a “blood thirsty crowd” who are being nasty to JJ. Most of the people I see here are here because they care a great deal about JJ’s writing and opinions, and wouldn’t spend so much time responding to him if they didn’t place value on him.
    There’s always going to be an occasional nasty tone during these conversations, though. Considering how divided people are on some of these issues (how can anybody look at these things and not realize that they’re fake?!!!) it’s remarkable that people are as civil as they are.

  • Supperfly, thanks for the “possibly” below. It proves you haven’t lost your !@#$% sanity, like so many other commentators here who are convinced, because they want to be, that CBS was taken in.
    You said: What does this story have to do with mudslinging? I can see how it does somewhat with the info the forged memos contain, but isn’t 60 Minutes and Dan Rather using possibly forged documents a legitimate issue
    Charles Johnson’s experiment has proven only that MS has been successful in approximating old typewriter typefaces.

  • MWB

    “Charles Johnson’s experiment has proven only that MS has been successful in approximating old typewriter typefaces.
    Sorry Andrew, that’s not true.
    Times New Roman was not originally a typewriter typeface. It was created for printing newspapers, which were composed with lead type on Linotype machines.
    MS has been successful in approximating old Linotype typefaces and kerning. Something few machines outside of printing shops or publishing enterprises could do in the early 70s.
    Andrew, the overlay of the MS Word DEFAULT is a DEAD-ON match IN EVERY RESPECT: Line breaks, letterspacing, leading, tab stops, EVERYTHING. It’s as incriminating as a clear fingerprint.
    Add to that the testimony of Killian’s wife and son, the inconsistency of the form of these memos with any others produced, the fact that CBS has only photocopies and not originals… and you don’t have to lose your “!@#$% sanity” to be persuaded that these memos are forgeries.

  • “Fingerprint” is a great way of putting it, MWB. Overlay-perfect output is *not* an “approximation”. Anybody who knows typewriters and typesetting knows this. I have some in my experience, too, and the golf ball defense just doesn’t cut it. Even with the Selectrics (which I had lots of access to as a young teen in the late 70s) there are too many arbitraries.
    Here is a great opportunity to use Scott Adams’ excellent “which is more likely?” construct: which is more likely… that Bill Gates chose to have MS Word emulate not just the typewriter, but the very margin settings, line spacing, and the arbitrary line-end choices (requiring an advanced AI that we don’t even know about yet) of the machine of a deceased military man whose wife says didn’t like to type and is conveniently not around any more to challenge the evidence that conveniently supports the changed story of a man whose daughter claims is making stuff up for political gain, or that an over-eager and floundering political smear machine trumped up some stuff on a computer?
    You memo defenders are either blowing smoke, or it’s in your eyes.

  • Angus Jung

    “Charles Johnson’s experiment has proven only that MS has been successful in approximating old typewriter typefaces.”
    Good Lord. Didn’t anybody else see Jagged Edge? It doesn’t take an expert to tell you that no two typewriters are alike. Even if you get two of the exact same model and type out the exact same text with the exact same margins and spacing, the two documents will not line up perfectly. Let alone a “30-year-old memo” lining up so perfectly with the same text typed in Word. You’ve been had.

  • BigFire I completely agree with you Jeff pays the bills and can write or not about whatever he likes. That said, I also agree with Claudia’s earlier point “My mistake – I thought you were a media critic with expertise on the new media.” That was my impression as well which is why this is something he should be writing about. But the choice is his…

  • Kat

    I, too, have the utmost respect for Jeff. I think he is likely the most sane Democrat in America. If he were running for president, I may even vote for him. My problem is not with Democrats like Jeff, it is with the mainstream Democrats like Kennedy and Kerry and Ariana Huffyton, and Dean, Michael Moore, Dan Rather, James Carville,New York Times, ABC, NBC, CAIR,Nation of Islam, etc.

  • AndrewBB, you really need to stop commenting on the forgery thing, because every time you put your finger to the keyboard, you reveal your almost total ignorance of typesetting and typing in the pre-computer era. Here’s the thing: you call yourself some kind of journalist, yet you are not willing to do even the most cursory google search much less get off your backside and go look up any physical evidence (such as hitting the thrift stores to search out an old typewriter) to back up these things you believe to be true. Instead you are willing to simply sit back and receive the propaganda from the Great Ones at Sixty Minutes. That doesn’t make you a journalist: that makes you a baby bird receiving regurgitated worms from its mother.

  • Okay forgive me but we will do the typwriter thing… the same fellas that were saying there is a matter of doubt are now saying the typwriters in use then in the office in question were feasable for this piece
    hey, I’m an old babe, and I know the military…in 1959 – when I studied this typing standard the ‘m’ ‘w’ and multiple space characters had to be counted as 1 1/2 standard, which happens to be contradictory to the Dallas Morning News’ visuals.
    Hey, if the economoy is in the tubes these are the guys that will tell you the pawn industry is booming.

  • Ruth, could you please post some links or tell us your sources for these so-called “feas
    Oh hell, why am I bothering? You make no sense. You are daft. The memos are fake. They were not typed on any typewriter that has ever existed upon this earth. Not even the few companies that still manufacture typewriters could create this memo. It was done using a recent version of Microsoft Word on a computer, printed out on a printer, and copied and recopied a few times to make it look “old.” The memos are a hoax, a fraud, a forgery, in short, FAKE, and Dan Rather and the other personnel at CBS have been had BIGTIME. Get it through your thick skull.

  • Jackson

    I’d suspect that Ruth is referring to the Bostons Globe’s claim that Dr. Philip Bouffard (one of the more credentialed “experts” who expressed doubts about the authenticity of the documents) had changed his mind and was basically now giving the documents a tick of approval.
    Of course this was not true and now Bouffard has complained about the Globe’s misquoting as well as once again clearly stated that “There are all kinds of things that say that this is not a typewriter.”
    Apologies to Ruth if this isn’t the person she is refering to (I’m sure she’ll take the opportunity to correct me)
    I’d be very interested to hear Andrews and Ruth’s explanation as to why no-one seems to have been able to reproduce the documents on a typewriter with anywhere near the accuracy of a word processing program (which on default setting reproduced the documents almost exactly), despite rewards heading towards $20,000 being offered?

  • Leland

    So claiming the FCC is taking away Howard Stern’s Freedom of Speech, eventhough he has now expanded his markets, because Howard doesn’t support Bush… That is not a blogger talking up the issues and not slinging mud?
    I keep hoping to find the Jeff Jarvis that once had me reading his blog daily. Now all I find is a hopeless hypocrit. Sure, you never sling crap, Jeff. You take the highroad… you keep believing that.
    The issue is that the groups slinging the “Mud” are media sources not affected by Campaign Finance Reform. Another radio personality predicted this when Campaign Finance Reform was passed. Yeah… Campaign Finance Reform… remember that issue?

  • Bernie Manning

    People seem to be sugar coating their comments and I don’t think that’s getting through to you. Let’s try bluntness.
    If you can’t see that the CBS story and the Swift Boats story are both bigger than the election because of what they reveal about the main stream media, then frankly, you’re out in left field without a glove

  • orwell

    Big Brother Jeff protecting Big Brother. Jeff, it is Big Brother who is distracting and distructive.
    For once, try looking at this situation outside your own Big Brother Box.

  • Yeah, Jeff. Watch The Great Race; I hear it’s much better.

  • Oinkgate!