September 15, 2004

Wham, Bam—Thank You, Dan.

I caught most of Rather's interview with Killian's secretary today. It proves that even little old ladies are prey to the temptations everyone else faces: Marion Knox just couldn't resist the chance to help Kerry and get her 15 minutes of fame at the same time.

Rather still wants this whole story to be "Did Bush Bend the Rules To Get Into TANG, And Then Miss His Physical?" When in fact it's "Did Dan Know the Documents Were Fake, Or Not?" I guess we can forgive him for not being able to sniff out the story people actually care about in all this.

I know they've been laying the groundwork for this "forged, but accurate" defense, but it was still startling to see it. I'm going to assume that if Rather got charged with a crime, and there was gossip/innuendo to the effect that he was guilty, it would be okay with him for a cop to plant evidence. After all, the "evidence" so manufactured would be "faked, but accurate." The language is Orwellian, and the logic is circular: "the documents authenticated the rumors; the rumors authenticate the documents. We can all go home early."

But I do have a favorite moment. It was the point when Mrs. Knox asserted to Rather that the young Lt. Bush "didn't seem to think he had to go by the rules that others did."

I'm sure Rather found something to relate to there.

A few little blogger-picky things: Why is Dan Rather asking a TANG secretary questions outside her real area of expertise, pertaining to military procedure and so forth? Memos and files are things she's qualified to discuss, but chain-of-command issues, and the seriousness of not taking a physical, are matters that I would expect pilots and their actual superiors to speak to—not support staff. Why does this matter? Because every pilot from the time who's weighed in on this on the sites I've visited has said that missing a physical wasn't a matter one's commanding officer would normally get involved in. You did it within the month your birthday fell, or you stopped getting paychecks if you were required to maintain your flight status. Or, in Lt. Bush's case, the understanding was, IIRC, that it was more practical for him to let his flying status lapse since he wasn't going to be flying anyway. As I understand it, it was considered wasteful for him to maintain it if he wasn't going to need it.

If Bush really was supposed to have a physical exam, why can't CBS find someone in his chain of command to assert this? Other than a dead guy into whose mouth they are putting words?

And Mrs. Knox admits that medical exams normally took place around one's birthday! She said that in the interview! So why would Killian be leaning on him to get it done earlier in the year, rather than in July?

And then there's the vaguely unpleasant insinuation that a man's secretary is going to have a more accurate memory about his state of mind regarding any given individual than his own wife would. (But then, that's why CBS used Killian's son as the gentle challenge to Mrs. Knox's recollections, rather than his widow.)

If Bush really was resented by his fellow officers for his "attitude" (and that may well be; he's only recently mastered that smirk thing), why can't CBS find one of them?

And there's this weird two step wherein some unknown party saw a file full of Killian's notes (which must have been hand-written, and therefore material Knox didn't necessarily see) pertaining to Bush, and transcribed them. But Mrs. Knox says things were changed so Killian wouldn't get into trouble. Why would a dead man need plausible deniability, anyway? And also: from the news organization's point of view, if you have hand-written notes, you've struck the mother lode. Who in their right mind would transcribe them to make them look more "official"?

If this is the way they want to go, then they need to find those original notes. This may be a problem, since the family maintains they never existed.

And if I were Killian's family, I'd be thinking about slander suits.

Posted by Attila at September 15, 2004 10:24 PM

I just had a stunning thought. We've noticed how Kerry's poll numbers go up when the focus is off him, right? What if this fiasco is part of a grand scheme to distract the electorate from actually focusing on candidate Kerry? What if Dan Blather is playing the fall guy to keep the attention away from Kerry in order to help his candidacy?

Oy. Nevermind. My tinfoil hat slipped off there for a minute...

Posted by: Desert Cat at September 15, 2004 11:26 PM

Dead on analysis Attila...too bad we won't see anything like it in the MSM.

Posted by: Don at September 16, 2004 12:24 AM

"Why is Dan Rather asking a TANG secretary questions outside her real area of expertise, pertaining to military procedure and so forth? Memos and files are things she's qualified to discuss, but chain-of-command issues, and the seriousness of not taking a physical, are matters that I would expect pilots and their actual superiors to speak to?not support staff."

LMA - c'mono, you should know that support staff aren't just a bunch of mindless automatons. A secretary may appear to just type memos but I'd bet that she knows quite a bit about chain-of-command issues and regulations. Heck, in any bureaucracy the secretaries are the ones who gets things done *AND* know what's going on.

Gonna take the bet?

Posted by: littlemrmahatma at September 16, 2004 08:11 AM

No. I'm not. Because I think in most cases you're right. But I think it's suspicious that, at the end of the day Dan Rather's case—previously supported by so-called contemporary memos—comes down to the recollections of one support person who

1) is essentially discussing rumors, and
2) clearly has a partisan agenda.

One person. No other pilots, no officers. No one in the actual chain of command.

Of course, this may reflect Rather's conviction that a Kerry supporter is an objective observer, whereas a Bush supporter is bound to be biased.

Posted by: Attila Girl at September 16, 2004 10:47 AM


When an 80 year old is asked something and her answer is "I feel..."
and that is given any credence, one has to wonder what passes for fact based testimony vs. emotional suspicion.

No doubt about it...this was just one of the more visible episodes of major media's ulterior motives peeking under the tent.

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