Why Do You Need To Pay Attention To The Content Of Fake Memos?

CBS News producer Mary Mapes, who was fired for her role in Memogate, is complaining that bloggers didn’t pay enough attention to the content of the phony memos:

“There was no analysis of what the documents actually said, no work done to look at the content, no comparison with the official record, no phone calls made to check the facts of the story, nothing beyond a cursory and politically motivated examination of the typeface. That was all they had to attack, but that was enough.”

First of all, that’s not true. Here’s one detail, pointed out by the blogosphere, that in and of itself should have thrown the authenticity of the memos into question:

“One CBS memo cites pressure allegedly being put on Killian by “Staudt,” a reference to Col. Walter B. “Buck” Staudt, one of Bush’s early commanders. But the memo is dated Aug. 18, 1973, nearly a year and a half after Staudt retired from the Guard.”

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Setting that aside, the content was essentially irrelevant. Why? Think about it like this:

If some shady source hands you a document that he claims was written by Napoleon and you notice that it’s scribbled on a sheet of notebook paper, you don’t need to look at content or the official record, it’s not real.

The same goes for those Memogate documents.

When an unreliable source hands you copies of memos that are supposed to be more than 30 years old and they’re written in the default font of Microsoft Word, what more do you need to know to figure out that they’re fakes?

The fact that Rather, Mapes, and company went live with these memos in the first place over the objections of their own experts, relentlessly defended them back then, and are still defending them now, tells you that getting to the truth is way down on their priority list, well below getting Bush and covering their own behinds.

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