Somewhere (justoneminute blog? doesn't matter really) someone made a point about Occam's razor shaving Rather. I think this is the key point here and it is related to what Murdoconline wrote with respect to my initial post and with regard to CBS’s attempted defense.
Creating documents that are identical (to the extent of the low resolution PDFs presetned by CBS) using MS Word (+photoshop) takes between 10 minutes and an hour depending on just how realistic a version you want to make. These MSWord replicas are identical in critical areas such as the centering of the text, the curly apostrophes the superscripts, the kerning and margins.
People who have IBM Selectric Composer typewriters (and note that it _requires_ the high end Composer not the standard Selectric model) can create similar documents with a lot of work. That doesn't mean that a 1973 ANG Lt Col could not have created the memos but it makes it seem vanishingly unlikely since to do so he or his assistant would need to be
a very experienced typist
possess a top of the range typewriter
spend a lot of time on the composition
At the same time in this hypothetical typist would need to be either unfamiliar with AF standards for abbreviations and layouts or for some reason not type these standard memos in ways that were usual practise.
Occam's razor suggests that the simplest explanation is the most likely. Which is simpler?
All this is just concentrating on the mechanics of the document creation and ignores all the other inconvenient details such as that the Lt Col or his typist would have out of date information about Lt Bush's address, be scared of a General who retired a year earlier and Lt Col Killian would have to use a different signature for these than he did for hundreds of other documents. All of these things are individually possible although "odd", but the combined probability of all of them and the uniqueness of the document style means that they have to be considered fakes until CBS or its source provides the original docments for expert analysis.
As well as selectively providing a defense to some of the document critiques - many of which (e.g. the superscript one) were less than convincing - CBS and Rather attempted to divert attention by stating that it is the contents of the documents that is more important. Now this is odd since with regards to the documents provided by the Swiftboat veterans (to take an example not completely at random) CBS - when it finally deigned to notice them - immediately denounced them as being Republican stooges and therefore ignored their claims. The problem here is that CBS and Rather seem to think that the American public are gullible fools with the attention span of a gnat (in the interests of full disclosure I have to admit that as a nuanced highly educated European I have occasionally expressed a viewpoint not totally inconsistent with this one). This could be true if the SBVT ads were not still showing up and reminding people that, unlike Bush, Kerry has not even attempted to provide all relevant documentation of his military service. The average American may perhaps be stupid and is almost certainly bored stiff by the whole Vietnam issue, but he isn't so stupid and bored that he can't see a double standard when it shows up in such a fashion.
Unfortunately for Kerry, who is probably entirely blameless, the instinctive reaction to being played for a fool is to not like the people who fooled you. CBS, by being so blatently partisan, is going to cost Kerry this election. Ooops.
With luck it will also stop Rather’s career, unfortunately (again) it is likely to do that by causing CBS to lose many of its advertisers and audience. When people have stopped watching CBS to Rather’s latest evasion, CBS news and 60 minutes are going to see a collpase in Nielsen rating and the shareholders of CBS are not going to let Rather get away blameless. Ooops.
My heart (as we used to say in school) bleeds purple piss for them.