Roger L. Simon

Why Did Dick Thornburgh Lie?

In the aftermath of the Rathergate Report, that is one of the things I am trying to figure out. To be clear, I am not talking about the bias issue. Although I assume CBS was biased (what news outlet isn’t?), legally there has to be a true smoking gun for proof beyond a reasonable doubt and there may not have been one here. But in the real world, nobody takes the lack of bias claim seriously anyway. It’s just silly. Sure, CBS is biased. So is Fox News and so am I. Onwards.

The lie that concerns me is the one that might actually have some public effect–that there was no proof that the National Guard documents were forgeries. It’s amazing Thornburgh and Boccardi could assert this with a straight face, considering their own expert–the only one they cite in their own appendix–says the exact opposite, just as every other reputable typography expert does without any of them being contradicted except in the most inept manner. And even those few paltry contradictions have failed completely and vanished from view. That the Bush guard documents are authentic is about as likely as a Vermeer being painted by blind monkeys–no, less likely. It’s beyond “reasonable doubt.” It’s no doubt (unless you believe some Vietnam era National Guard officer took a time machine forward to the days of Microsoft Word 7.0 to fill out the documents and then returned.)

And yet in this case lack of proof is being asserted by a former Attorney General of the United States. Why? It’s hard to imagine what was going through Thornburgh’s head. Is he such a Luddite he couldn’t comprehend the evidence, which most junior high school computer users would understand in one minute? Well, I suppose that’s possible – and maybe that’s why he was chosen. But if so that’s pretty pathetic. I’d like to think he was being bribed by someone at CBS, because it’s the only explanation that makes any rational sense.

UPDATE: Van Gordon Sauter, a blast from CBS’ past, blasts the present. (HT: Mark Moore)