I think the defense of Dan Rather by Mary Mapes–his partner in crime in promoting a dubious account of Bush’s National Guard service–is nothing short of remarkable. Her argument boils down to the assertion that these forged documents should have been taken seriously, along with the rest of the story, because this hodge-podge of forgeries, hearsay testimony, and the irrelevant were internally consistent. To her, it does not matter that the documents (on which the hearsay and self-interested griping of others depended) were definitively proven to be frauds. She writes:
Instantly, the far right blogosphere bully boys pronounced themselves experts on document analysis, and began attacking the form and font in the memos. They screamed objections that ultimately proved to have no basis in fact. But they captured the argument. They dominated the discussion by churning out gigabytes of mind-numbing internet dissertations about the typeface in the memos, focusing on the curl at the end of the “a,” the dip on the top of the “t,” the spacing, the superscript, which typewriters were used in the military in 1972.
It was a deceptive approach, and it worked.
These critics blathered on about everything but the content. They knew they would lose that argument, so they didn’t raise it. They focused on the most obscure, most difficult to decipher element of the story and dove in, attacking CBS, Dan Rather, me, the story and the horse we rode in on — without respite, relentlessly, for days.
Soon, traditional media began repeating some of the claims and joining in the attack on the story. They didn’t do any real work on the substance of the story; they just wanted to talk about typeface.
As I said two years ago, “Mapes in particular seems to live in fantasy-land, forgetting that once documents are definitively exposed to be frauds, it’s not important to examine their content, however damning.”