Roger L. Simon

Dumb and Dumber

I don’t know if – as the Wall Street Journal is implying pretty strongly this morning – Rathergate implicates CBS directly in “a partisan dirty trick,” (although the network certainly still has some ‘xplain’ to do, a whole lot of explaining).

All of this raises the question of whether CBS was a vessel for, if not a willing participant in, a partisan dirty trick two months before a closely contested Presidential election.

But if it’s not a dirty trick, it indicates a shockingly low level of intelligence on the part of the network – or at least some of its producers and anchorman. And I’m not just talking about their choice of someone as hugely unstable and biased as “Wild” Bill Burkett as an “unimpeachable” source. Yesterday I was watching the CBS video linked on Drudge in which Rather was interviewed giving his mea culpa to one of their own newswomen. It was the expected kind of pseudo-breast beating. But in it the anchorman informed us in the great unwashed (paraphrase here) that authenticating these documents was an inexact science at best. “There’s no DNA here.”

Wrong, Dan. This is the modern digital world. These things can be tracked down immediately and exactly. And they were! When I told this story to Charles Johnson over lunch – the man who launched a thousand blogs by posting his exact copy of the document by quickly typing the same words into Microsoft Word, he had a good laugh. He told me how a commenter on his site just tried to type the same document with an earlier version of the word processor (Word 4.0). Guess what? It didn’t match at all. The DNA, in that case, did not fit. If Rather had bothered to consult this man, he would have been able to see exactly how specific this digital DNA could be. But the question remains, had the anchorman done so, would he have had the intellectual capacity to have understood what he read. Maybe that’s the secret to being a good liar. You can’t comprehend what your critics are saying.

UPDATE: And dumber still.