Quote of the Day, Rathergate Edition

Comment from Tony_Petroski, in this PowerLine Blog post that revisits the Rathergate affair and thoroughly discredits the Killian documents:

The Mapes Miasma. My what a miserable, manipulative. maddening, malignant, malodorous, mangled, maniacal, menacingly meddlesome mockery of a mendacious mockery of a misanthropic mendacious mockery it is. Her miasma has all the earmarks of Moldavian hacking.

If anyone ever gets around to writing a history of the war between peer review and open source, I hope this episode is included and Mapes lives to see it. 

13 thoughts on “Quote of the Day, Rathergate Edition”

  1. I recall this as it was unfolding, with some defenders of CBS trying to find flaws in the exposures at LGF and other sites. I kept getting up and coming back to my computer. The exact match to default Microsoft Word in New Times Roman had not yet been done. “No, the automatic superscript of ‘th’ was possible on some electric typewriters, and I can confirm that the Guard had them at the time…” would be answered by a person with documents of what typesets were on those electronic typewriters – which locations, which buildings, which offices, by official inventory.

    Yet over the next few days it still persisted “Those accusations against Rather were all immediately disproven,” when in fact the opposite was the case. The repeated joke was “The internet: fact-checking your ass since 1994.” It was all quite instructive how far media sources were willing to deceive (not merely hold a POV incautiously, but actual fraud) to achieve a goal.

  2. It was a lazy forgery. With a copy of an actual Texas Air National Guard memo from 1972-1973 as a model, it would have been easy to use MS Word to create a forgery that would have been much harder to detect. It might not have gotten past a forensic expert, but at least it wouldn’t be the eye-rolling self-beclowning of the Rathergate docs.

  3. Mapes and Rather saw what they wanted to see, and disregarded the rest…
    To me, the most unsettling realization was how readily and how eager the Establishment National News Media was to perpetuate a fraudulent story in order to throw a presidential election.
    As for the “memo” itself – I always wondered why there was no file-plan designation written by hand in the upper right corner, if it was intended as a file copy of a memo sent to the addressee. The Air Force, and presumably the Guard was always rather anal retentive about keeping files orderly – every document filed had to have a little note in the corner designating the file number where it needed to be, date, and initials of the clerk who filed it there.

  4. Let’s see AI try to write a paragraph “in the style of Petroski”. It would start smoking, stammering and eventually blubbering for help from Landru…..

  5. As noted by AVI, the LGF blogsite played a major role in exposing the fraud. Its author was vanilla hard Right in those days, then suddenly switched to vanilla hard Left overnight. Go figure.

    The Relotius affair at “Der Spiegel” was similar:


    Spiegel’s editors were “shocked, shocked” that a pack of lies that should have been transparent to any 10-year-old and included virtually every one of the quasi-racist stereotypes that Germany’s legions of Amerika haters are so fond of somehow managed to slip through their layers and layers of fact checkers.

  6. One of the traditional tools of the media is the “pull quote”, getting someone from authority (usually a degree or retired from a given position) to give you the quote you want for a story whether the quote gives a full picture or not of the topic. A good “journalist” always has a Rolodex full of such people.

    Rathergate in a sense was like an old-fashioned pull quote as it was an external source that appealed to CBS’ biases and made the story go. However in the ensuing days as the story feel apart it really became that crystallizing moment where the media stopped from just being in the bag for the Democrats and became fully integrated branch of the party apparatus. You can draw a straight line from that moment to the point last year when the media official abandoned objectivity (https://cronkite.asu.edu/news/2023/can-a-journalist-be-trustworthy-without-being-objective/)

  7. I remember that a major issue driving Charles Johnson’s defection revolved around the CounterJihad Brussels 2007 conference, specifically, the inclusion of Vlaams Belang leader Filip Dewinter among the speakers. Johnson thought it unconscionable that his then-ally Robert Spencer participated in the conference. I vaguely recall that Spencer said that if he boycotted a conference over one speaker he wouldn’t have spoken at one from some time back that included Hillary Clinton. Dewinter was accused of being a white supremacist; on short notice I don’t know if there is any documentation that supports the claim.

    In 2010 Dennis Prager wrote an open letter to Charles Johnson about the latter’s 10-point screed “Why I Parted Ways With The Right.” Vlaams Belang is mentioned:

    “Vlaams Belang is a Flemish nationalist political party that won 17 out of 150 seats in Belgium’s Chamber of Representatives. From what I could gather from a cursory glance at the party’s platform, it is an ultra-nationalist Flemish party, many of whose language protection and secessionist ideals are virtually identical to those of the Party Quebecois, a party passionately supported by the left.”

  8. I just spotted a delicious conspiracy theory in the Wikipedia article on the Killian documents controversy. Yet another reason the “BlueAnon” epithet exists.

    Some Democratic critics of Bush suggested that the memos were produced by the Bush campaign to discredit the media’s reporting on Bush’s National Guard service. The chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Terry McAuliffe, suggested that the memos might have originated with long-time Bush strategist Karl Rove. McAuliffe told reporters on September 10, “I can tell you that nobody at the Democratic National Committee or groups associated with us were involved in any way with these documents”, he said. “I’m just saying that I would ask Karl Rove the same question.” McAuliffe later pointed out that Rove and another Republican operative, Ralph Reed, had “a known history of dirty tricks”, and he asked whether Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie would rule out any involvement by GOP consultant Roger Stone. At a community forum in Utica, New York in 2005, U.S. Representative Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) pointed out that the controversy served Rove’s objectives: “Once they did that, then it undermined everything else about Bush’s draft dodging. … That had the effect of taking the whole issue away.” After being criticized, Hinchey responded, “I didn’t allege I had any facts. I said this is what I believe and take it for what it’s worth.”

    Rove and Stone have denied any involvement. In a 2008 interview in The New Yorker, Stone said “It was nuts to think I had anything to do with those documents … [t]hose papers were potentially devastating to George Bush. You couldn’t put them out there assuming that they would be discredited. You couldn’t have assumed that this would rebound to Bush’s benefit. I believe in bank shots, but that one was too big a risk.”

  9. well thats ridiculous, where did Lucy Ramirez, come from, it was such an obvious hoax, much like the Danchenko gossip wrapped inside the Steele Dossier,

  10. “I didn’t allege I had any facts. I said this is what I believe and take it for what it’s worth.”


    I think she said out loud the quiet part about the entirety of the Left

    You know Bill Clinton could have saved himself some trouble by coming up with something like this re: Bimbo Alerts and Right Wing Conspiracy

  11. Something that had escaped me until I saw that tiny image of the “original” document was that I doubt very much that anyone in 1973 would have included an obscenity in an official document. And that’s exactly what CYA would have been considered then. The least the author could have expected in fall out was an order to rewrite it unless he was referring specifically to sheltering an equine quadruped of a particular species.

    First, there were no typewriters that did proportional spacing. There were several that did half spacing for narrow characters like I and l including the IBM Selectric. There were no typewriters that “automatically” typed superscripts and subscripts. Again, the IBM Selectric had type balls, one specifically for typing mathematical formulas that included those characters among others but in place of more mundane characters, also another for chemical formulas. You had to switch balls to type a formula and then switch back to type the body text. A few typewriters had the ability to half space vertically either up or down but the characters were full sized.

    It wasn’t lazy, it was stupid. Taking the few seconds to select a mono-spaced font would have only made it a little less stupid and delay discovery by a few days at most when it would have been shown that it didn’t match any typewriter in existence.

    By the time this came out, it had been years since I had bothered to watch any of the network news shows and years since I had been credulous enough to believe what I heard.

    Possibly Rather’s comeback might increase my contempt for CBS but I’d have to restudy transfinite math to figure out if that was even possible.

  12. you see how they treat as credible, mostly every purveyor of dezinforma, and who they treat as a pariah, sharyl atkinson, and lara logan, they sabotaged her career, with the bogus benghazi vetting of sources, re michael Morell, they nearly got her killed in Sierra Leone,
    over ebola, then they dropped her off a sheer cliff, then she went to Fox and asked too many pressing questions, but they dropped her,

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