On a Reddit AMA (Ask me anything) yesterday, former CBS broadcaster Dan Rather (Now with AXS-TV) was understandably asked a question about ‘Rathergate’ – the story on George W. Bush’s service in the Air National Guard that used forged documents in the report.
Rather responded brusquely:
Number 1 – the facts of case are not in dispute.
Number 2 – no one had ever established that the documents were forged (those who attack them argued that we didn’t do enough to demonstrate that they were not forged) The whole documents argument was a camouflage – what was described in the documents was factual. As for the trap argument — could have been, might have been but nobody has ever proven that. What I know, all I know, is we reported a true story. Whatever you think of the documents, facts are facts.
Perhaps Rather believed that the Reddit community would agree with his version of the facts, but that wasn’t the case. Font expert Thomas Phinney, who has built a career on typography, responded on the Reddit conversation thread with a lengthy deconstruction of the forged Rather documents :
I am on the left wing of the political spectrum, and I am also a typography expert who was quoted twice in the Washington Post about the memos, and approached by ABC News to get my opinion on the topic. TL;DR: they were blatant forgeries.
Perhaps Bush did evade his duties and the contents of the memos were essentially accurate. But the memos used by CBS could not have been produced in the 1970s without a professional typesetting shop.