Blogs > Cliopatria > What Game Is This? ...

Sep 16, 2004 9:50 am


What Game Is This? ...



There's a fascinating game going on with the alleged Killian Memos. CBS's"Sixty Minutes, II" was apparently pre-empted in some markets by local programing last night. So, if you missed it, here is the transcript. I found Colonel Jerry Killian's former secretary, Marion Carr Knox, highly credible. She assures us that the memos presented last week are forgeries. She is confident that she did not type them. She is equally confident that the forgeries report information which was included in documents that she did type. Kevin Drum at Political Animal has a good summary of what is known apart from those documents, i.e., the context which they might further illuminate. What is known is, itself, fairly embarrassing. Is it possible that these documents were forged in order to bait the White House into releasing the real documents? Increasingly, it appears that the alleged memos were faxed to CBS from a Kinkos in Abilene and some observers are pointing to former Texas Air National Guard officer Bill Burkett, who lives within twenty-five miles of Abilene, as a likely source.

I am inclined to agree with The Volokh Conspiracy's Orin Kerr and Daniel Drezner that this issue has pre-occupied the blogosphere to an inordinate degree, when there are more important contemporary issues. It does involve matters of historical method and detection, however, so I've thought it important to give it some attention at Cliopatria.


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Richard Henry Morgan - 9/22/2004

It doesn't require a conspiracy. Just a critical mass of stupid, lazy, and dishonest journalists, who just happen to share a worldview. When Dan Rather characterizes the provider of the documents as an "unimpeachable source", all I can say is Dan should stop drinking the bong water.


Ralph E. Luker - 9/21/2004

It must be a conspiracy of the Liberal Media.


Richard Henry Morgan - 9/21/2004

What is this preoccupation of your's with contacts with the DNC? Is it conditioned by demonstrated contacts between CBS and the Kerry campaign? Or is it the extraordinarily coincidental timing of the DNC's Fortunate Son campaign? I'm not sure, either, what to make of CBS' contacts with the White House, given that CBS provided the White House with the documents.


I'm not in the mood to make too much of contacts -- just enjoy the squirming of Rather (et al). In fact, I can't think of a recent example of more irresponsible journalism: they took Ben Barnes (with credibility problems such as the fact that he had previously denied on the record any memory of helping Bush), added Burkett and gave him the cover of anonymity (who sued Texas, and has had a couple of nervous breakdowns, and has been hawking this story without documents for years), and then added faxed copies of documents of unknown provenance, apparently under the impression that chain is not as strong as its weakest link, but is somehow an additive function of many weak links.

And even better than this unbelievably crappy journalism is the number of newspapers which swallowed it whole.


Ralph E. Luker - 9/21/2004

Get over it, Richard. CBS had more contact with the White House over the Killian Memos than it had with the DNC.


Richard Henry Morgan - 9/21/2004

PS

There's some interesting stuff on the links between Kerry's Campaign, the DNC, Burkett, and Mapes over at Ballon-juice (you can get to it via Instapundit).


Richard Henry Morgan - 9/21/2004

Condolences aren't necessary. Almost as good as the DNC or Kerry's campaign passing a bad source to CBS (and CBS running with it), is CBS passing a bad source to Kerry. Oh, that's right. Lockhart says he didn't discuss the documents with Burkett. My bad. In any case, to save Rather's six, Mapes is going to be 86-ed. That's the way it works.


Ralph E. Luker - 9/21/2004

Condolences to you, Richard. I know you wanted the story to be that the documents pass from the DNC hands directly to CBS. Burkett had already contacted the Kerry campaign and got nowhere.


Richard Henry Morgan - 9/21/2004

AP reports that CBS reporter called Kerry advisor Joe Lockhart, and tipped him off, suggesting that he call Burkett, as Burkett had some interesting info. CBS, through its actions, has just managed to confirm the worst fears of the right wing. Congratulations. CBS "authenticates" phony documents, then tips off the Kerry campaign to the source.


Alastair Mackay - 9/19/2004

Dr. Luker,

Thank you for your thoughtful response.

>You haven't been treated with ad hominem here and you know it.
If this is what I knew, this is what I would have said. We disagree. In my first post here, I expressed my concern that the minimum standards of civility required for constructive debate are not consistently maintained here. After making numerous posts and reading numerous responses, I still hold to that statement.

>I don't reject your arguments or citations as irrelevant.
Thank you for the acknowledgement. As for your blogroll, I agree that it shows diversity.

Thanks also for your expansion on your idea of conservatism. So stated, I think there is a lot of good sense there, though also much that I would be likely to disagree with. But that is the nature of discussions with diverse participants. Better to illuminate differences than to try and forge consensus where it doesn't exist.

PS--And thanks for deleting my mangled-format post. I missed a quotation mark.


Ralph E. Luker - 9/19/2004

Mr. Mackay,
You haven't been treated with ad hominem here and you know it. I am occasionally sarcastic, when that is the best I can muster. If I weren't tolerant of dissent, I wouldn't have intentionally invited historians to join Cliopatria who have quite dramatically disagreed with each other in discussions here. I haven't polled the members of our group, but I suspect that some of us will vote for Bush and that some of us will not.
I don't reject your arguments or citations as irrelevant. I did, in fact, check them out. They are to sites that I don't ordinarily frequent, so I thank you for them, tho they are to sites which I probably won't return to often. If you bother to look at our blogroll, you will find considerable diversity in it, however. Andrew Sullivan sits right up there next to Atrios, like it or not. Belmont Club offers a historical perspective on things with which I often disagree.
As for your last bit on conservatism, I'll be only too happy to discuss what a conservative is with you at any time. I do not start with capitalism as its core because capitalism is a radical economic enterprise, often headlessly disruptive of human community. I do take certain values as important to it. Among them would be fiscal prudence and restraint in the conduct of foreign policy. I see _nothing_ conservative about this administration. And, btw, my family has Republican roots going at least as far back as the Bushes and _much_ further back than those of the Dixiecrat-come-latelies who dominate the current party, so I'm not impressed by most of its current leadership. A party led by John McCain, Olympia Snowe, Lincoln Chaffee -- that I could live with quite happily.


Alastair Mackay - 9/19/2004

Dr. Dresner,

Thanks for sharing your research interests. And for the thoughtful way that you have framed our evident disagreements. It might, or might not, surprise you to know that I am not a Republican, and therefore unqualified to be a Republican operative. I thus view the hypocrisy of some Republican partisans much as I view same by some Democrats--somewhere between inevitable and despicable, depending on the particulars of the case. But not something I feel personal responsibility for.

On another topic, I think the coures of post-WW2 Korean history may have some relevance to how US-Iraq and US-Arab relations develop over the next few decades. I think one could draw analogies that would meet Burke's criteria, though I haven't seen anyone do so. One particular: The parents and grandparents of today's South Koreans were saved from the worst of the juche (etc) ideology of the Kim Family Regime (though 1. not those who were killed, and 2. who can know how the KFR would have evolved had unification taken place under its terms). ROK is now an ally of the US, but a conditional one. South Koreans seem to have a strange set of views of American society, and South Koreans don't seem to see their society's interests as particularly aligned with ours.

I imagine a best-case long-term scenario for the Iraqi-American relationship as in some ways similar. "Gratitude" for "liberation" will be fleeting, and as conflicts and differences emerge, Iraqis will act according to what they think benefits them. As with the ROK, Iraq won't be a mini-America, and won't aspire to be. Sometimes their hostility will seem inexplicable or irrational to most Americans.

This is not the neocon's Jeffersonian idyll in the sand. Is this outcome possible? If it is, would it be worth the lives of thousands of Americans, and tens of thousands of Iraqis?

I'm not blind or stupid, and can see many grounds for disagreement among people of good will.

[my last post of the day]


Jonathan Dresner - 9/19/2004

Mr. Mackay,

I'm glad we're fundamentally in agreement on something; it's a good place to start a discussion from. I'm not acquiting CBS: I think their role would be better described as negligent than mafeasant. I'm simply pointing out that the hypocrisy of Republican partisans regarding the use of sources and credibility remains intact.

Your description of my comments as fatuous, caricature and oversimplified are entirely correct. None of that means that I'm wrong, though: a great deal of the post-invasion discourse from the pro-invasion side has been of the "well he deserved it anyway" variety. Frankly, I'm not that interested in the issue at this point: the best argument anyone has made in the administration's favor, as near as I can see, is that they were taken in by bad intelligence and wishful thinking, and that things are turning out a bit better than the worst-case scenarios. If you want to talk about something meaningful, let's talk about what the candidates will do about Iraq, and the rest of our foreign policy, after November. Unfortunately, neither of them has given us much to work with....

My research speciality is Meiji Japan (1868-1912) social history, particularly the interaction between international migration and rural development. I teach broadly in East Asian history, as well as World History surveys. Someday I'd like to teach a course on the use of history and historical processes in science fiction. I'd also like to teach a course and write a text which integrates Japanese and Korean historical narratives together into something which is more about interdependence than historiographical conflict.


Alastair Mackay - 9/19/2004

Dr. Luker:

I really do appreciate your hanging out on the winger blogs and then slumming over here to bring us some truth.
Sarcasm, I think, or else you wouldn't have said 'slumming'. When you stomach your distaste of dissent long enough to stay civil and keep with the issues under discussion, that will be the signal of a serious post.

1. In this very thread, you wrote "I'm also interested in the winger/Freeper/lawyer who first charged that the documents were fraudulent." Even a person of your choleric temperament can see the connection between that interest and the links I offered.

2. In this very thread, RH Morgan wrote, "You may be right -- somebody may be framing a guilty man." I do find the frequent and casual way this comment is trotted out to be both ironic and depressing. No doubt you don't agree with the Ramparts analogy I drew, but surely you can see its relevance.

I suspect that my vote won't be determined by ...
Hey, mine either!

I'm a conservative, Mr. Mackay
All a matter of definitions, isn't it.


Dr. Dresner:

You know, I'd get more excited about the 'framing a guilty man' trope if it weren't the dominant theme of post-Iraq invasion "oops, there weren't any WMD" backtracking
As a whole, your sentence seems to acquit CBS's malfeasance because you think Bush committed a similar crime regarding Iraq. Of course, you haven't actually made that statement, so perhaps plainer writing would lead to clearer understanding of your meaning.
On its own, your 'dominant theme' clause is fatuous. I won't provide links to address it, because the arguments have been presented so well, and so often. Start with Christopher Hitchens at Slate.com or Norm Geras on his web-log. Discussion of the actual issues--not a caricature of one of the issues--will have to await some other time. And, frankly, it's not worth attempting such a complex discussion, when one side acts as though ad hominem attacks, sarcasm, compound questions (do-you-still-beat-your-wife?), and mind-reading are legitimate debate tactics. You, personally, have always been civil to my disssenting voice, but that is far from universal. Clean up your site, then we can talk more.

Forging documents is...
For what it's worth, I could have written that paragraph. Read as you wrote it, your words reflect my opinion as well.

this historian is entirely willing...
Well, most of my friends don't give a hoot about CBS News' conduct, either. If you're not interested, you're not interested; no argument here. I just hope you aren't a historian of modern American journalism.


Jonathan Dresner - 9/19/2004

You know, I'd get more excited about the 'framing a guilty man' trope if it weren't the dominant theme of post-Iraq invasion "oops, there weren't any WMD" backtracking....

Forging documents is bad; forging them badly is dumb and sloppy. The fact that someone decided to forge documents against Bush doesn't make me like him any more, and I and people I respect have been calling for both sides, but particularly our side, to take the high road in our political and policy debates, so I don't have any twinges of hypocrisy or doublethink to worry about. It wasn't my fault; it doesn't change what I already think about him, and it doesn't really represent a 'new low' in American politics or anything like that.

Sorry, Mr. Mackay, but this historian is entirely willing, unless there is some substance there I'm missing, to pass over this whole discussion with a yawn and a 'but what are we Americans doing about Iraq?'


Ralph E. Luker - 9/19/2004

I really do appreciate your hanging out on the winger blogs and then slumming over here to bring us some truth. I also appreciate the education in values that you offer, as well. I suspect that my vote won't be determined by false documents, the truth contained therein, young GWB's failure to fulfill a commitment to a cushy assignment years ago, or any combination of those things. Despite the righty bloggers massive efforts to distract attention from it, we have a jobless "economic recovery," a mismanaged struggle against terrorism, a losing war in Iraq, and a fiscal policy dripping red ink into the foreseeable future. I'm a conservative, Mr. Mackay, horrified by all of this and I certainly don't intend to vote for its extension into the next four years.


Alastair Mackay - 9/19/2004

Information on 'Buckhead,' the Free Republic poster, here, although 'TankerKC' posted about the forgeries earlier.
More on 'Buckhead' in the LA Times If you aren't registered there, you can read most of their article here, although the accompanying moderate and centrist commentary isn't exactly the sort of moderate and centrist commentary that so permeates Cliopatria.

Lots on Burkett in the usual places. Seems like he was writing on the Web about his schemes as he was working them out. If so, I guess we can all be thankful he didn't decide to become a brain surgeon instead.

> ... framing a guilty man. Just because Burkett may not be the most reliable or unbiased source doesn't mean there ain't some truth to his "story".

C'mon. Bush may be respected and even loved around here, but of course there's some truth to the stories about his National Guard time. A forgery isn't credible unless it is, clearly, at least partially true. If this shocks you so much that you now must switch your vote to Kerry--then so be it.

Wonderful that my old friend "framing a guilty man" makes its appearance yet again. The irony meter has yet to be invented that can withstand its hurricaine strength whenever that phase is used with a straight face on a history weblog, to which historians post.

By the way, most of the suspects the Ramparts officers convicted with planted evidence and false testimony were already convicted felons, and were active in criminal gangs at the time of their arrests.

Just something to think about the next time your fingers are on the "fr" keys, as you're starting to type those four words.


Alastair Mackay - 9/19/2004

Information on 'Buckhead,' the Free Republic poster, here, although 'TankerKC' posted about the forgeries earlier.
More on 'Buckhead' in the LA Times If you aren't registered there, you can read most of their article
C'mon. Bush may be respected and even loved around here, but of course there's some truth to the stories about his National Guard time. A forgery isn't credible unless it is, clearly, at least partially true. If this shocks you so much that you now must switch your vote to Kerry--then so be it.

Wonderful that my old friend "framing a guilty man" makes its appearance yet again. The irony meter has yet to be invented that can withstand its hurricaine strength whenever that phase is used with a straight face on a history weblog, to which historians post.

By the way, most of the suspects the Ramparts officers convicted with planted evidence and false testimony were already convicted felons, and were active in criminal gangs at the time of their arrests.

Just something to think about the next time your fingers are on the "fr" keys, as you're starting to type those four words.


Richard Henry Morgan - 9/19/2004

You're welcome. I brought it up because of the use of the Army term 'billet' in the memo. As for corrections, been there and done that. I once said Manny Ramirez was the worst fielder I'd seen -- and he played on a team with Albert Belle (what was I thinking?).

I could implicate the DNC, though without sufficient evidence, I'm afraid -- sort of like Terry McAuliffe laying this at Karl Rove's feet. It seems though that the NY Times is going where I fear to tread. They are reporting that Burkett had communications with the Kerry campaign, said he thought it was time to get down and dirty, and intimated knowledge of "documents" to come. That hardly seems sufficient to implicate the Dems.

You may be right -- somebody may be framing a guilty man. Just because Burkett may not be the most reliable or unbiased source doesn't mean there ain't some truth to his "story". It would have been nice if CBS had bothered to interview Killian's secretary beforehand, or gotten Staundt's (?) view of the matter (particuarly since he is implicated by the memo). By hiding their source CBS also seems to have avoided info that may back him up. What are the exact circumstances such that Burkett was privy to the alleged info? Could be plausible. You never know.


Ralph E. Luker - 9/18/2004

Thanks for the correction, Richard. I'm also interested in the winger/Freeper/lawyer who first charged that the documents were fraudulent. He lives only a few miles away from me, apparently. We may even use the same Kinkos, tho we don't move in the same social or political circles. Too bad you can't implicate the DNC in this fabrication. But all the huffery about it doesn't change the real evidence that Bushy took a cushy and didn't live up to its obligations.


Richard Henry Morgan - 9/18/2004

Burkett, who you (Ralph) unfortunately identify as a former Texas Air National Guard officer, actually served with the Texas Army National Guard. Since the finger is more and more pointing to him as a source, it strikes me that Bernard Goldberg may prove to have a point in his WSJ op-ed piece. Burkett as source would explain Rather's and CBS' reluctance to admit the documents were forged, since that would free them to burn their source -- which only further serves to implicate CBS, since Burkett has been selling this story for years, in more and more florid and contradictory versions, and yet somehow only now has the documents, and can deliver them only by fax. CBS ain't going to burn that source if it only serves to burn CBS even more.


Ralph E. Luker - 9/18/2004

Keep in mind that I have been without electricity for 12 hours. And you look for good humor?


Alastair Mackay - 9/18/2004

>Not to so all snippy on you or anything
Really! You don't say!

>if you bothered yourself to _read_ the Joseph Newcomer citation
How'd you figure out that my synopsis was lifted from Cliff Notes!

> "th" _could_ be done in 1972; "fr" could not.
Thanks for addressing my question with such evident good humor. The answer turns out to be fascinating, but unnecessary to Newcomer's proof that the Killian memos are forgeries.

Newcomer's proof ... that was cited by web-logs ... from which it was picked up by the Post ... which was the point I dropped in to make ... which was evidence contrary to what had just been asserted ... which put you in that sparklin' good humor ...


Ralph E. Luker - 9/18/2004

Not to so all snippy on you or anything, Mr. Mackay, but if you bothered yourself to _read_ the Joseph Newcomer citation, which you graciously provided us, you would know what the "fr" evidence is. "th" _could_ be done in 1972; "fr" could not.


Alastair Mackay - 9/18/2004

>The "fr" evidence is much more convincing.
Sorry, I don't know what this refers to.

The web-logs that looked seriously at typography for proof (or absence of proof) of forgery stopped considering the "th" superscript once Joseph Newcomer's post became known on 9/11 and 9/12. It is CBS and a few other websites that have continued such discussion as there has been.

"Ra^th/^ergate" is meant as a pun. 3 syllables--"jeu de mot." 4 syllables--"signifier." Sure, if you don't like the pun, you can label it "preening onanism" (5 syllables). I kinda like it, though.

What Newcomer demonstrated (see citation above) is that the character spacing of the Killian memos is governed by the sophisticated "hinting" algorithms that were first incorporated into the TrueType build of Times New Roman and some other fonts. The patents for these algorithms were filed by Apple Computer in 1989 and 1992.

Now, you and I might suggest that this is just an overly forceful statement of what was obvious the day after 60 Minutes was broadcast. But (at least as of a few hours ago) CBS News is still claiming that the memos are genuine, and most of the mainstream media is still extending them the "professional courtesy" of pretending to their reading and viewing public that this is a plausible position. See, for instance, David Folkenflick's articles in
Thursday's and Friday's Baltimore Sun. And Folkenflick is one of the better reporters; e.g. he interviewed the two experts, Linda James and Emily Wills.


Ralph E. Luker - 9/17/2004

Mr. Mackay, Thanks for these citations. The elevated "th" is not, however, convincing evidence. It is, at best, substantiating evidence. The preening that uses the short form Ra[su]th[su]ergate is, thus onanistic. The "fr" evidence is much more convincing.


Alastair Mackay - 9/17/2004

> The hard evidence that survived came from people like Jim Lindgren, who's not a blogger, and the Washington Post reporters. ... And, by the way, what in the abstract is the distinguishing difference between construing evidence to sustain an argument and cherrypicking data to support a point of view?

> You are right -- the blog has been engaging in a preening onanism while much-maligned sources such as the washington post did much of the main legwork.

The definitive explanation of the anachonisms of the forged memos' typesetting is one example of the "detective work" that outlets like the Washington Post twigged to first. The "web-logs" followed on leads like this only belatedly.

Joseph Newcomer posted his piece on 9/11/04.
One of the web-logs on this case linked to the analysis on 9/12/02.

First WaPo entry: Sept. 14.

"Preening onanism" is a great word pair. How it makes a September 14[su]th[/su] citation earlier than a September 12[su]th[/su] citation is still a bit unclear to me.

As Dan Rather wrote in this web-log back in 1973, "Facts can be so inconvenient!"


Derek Charles Catsam - 9/17/2004

Ralph --
Fair enough. In any case, even if she is wrong, the real ass in all of this is Dan Rather and CBS' apologists.
dc


Ralph E. Luker - 9/17/2004

I think we simply disagree on this, Derek. There's little obvious opportunistic incentive for this 86 year old lady and lots of reason that she would very well recall the situation of GWB in 1972. If you saw or read her account of things, she really was quite clear: the documents shown by CBS were not ones she typed; the documents shown by CBS reflect the content of documents that she did type. This isn't fuzzy memory. One of our skills is learning what memory to credit and what memory to discount. I credit hers.


Derek Charles Catsam - 9/17/2004

Ralph --
You are right -- the blog has been engaging in a preening onanism while much-maligned sources such as the washington post did much of the main legwork. Obviously i think blogging is important, though most of us are not investigative bloggers. And some of the most mainstream blogs are hardly distinguishable from the mainstream media. Sullivan is a classic case of this.
however, i do not place as much credence in Killian's secretary. I am sorry, but she muct have typed thousands of memoes a week. For all of his family prominence, there is no reason for her to know that she did or did not type that about Bush so many years back. i just do not believe that her memory is that good. If i forget to delete an email, I do not remember if I responded to it two weeks hence. I have to look on my vita to remember articles or reviews or op-eds that I have written, and I daresay in terms of the investment of time, writing a book review takes up more space in one's memory banks than typing up a memo that someone else constructed. I've talked to plenty of civil rights activists that cannot put events that they participated in within six months of when they occurred. Color me skeptical. There are serious problems with the documents, but I would hardly say that a secretary's testimony on what she may or may not have typed thirty-plus years ago ranks pretty low on the credence scale. I smell opportunism.

dc


Ralph E. Luker - 9/17/2004

Sorry, Richard, but for all the preening among the righty bloggers, the fact remains that much of the "evidence" that they pointed to on 10-13 September simply turned out to be wrong. Their intuition was correct, but the evidence they pointed to didn't hold up.


Richard Henry Morgan - 9/17/2004

The interesting thing is I missed the original 60 Minutes, as I do every week, and I was familiar with some of the criticisms of Rather's original story before I even read about Rather's account (being parroted by that major media -- you know, the one with checks). It was only then that I went to the CBS website. I hate to break it to you, but the technical elements are not what stood out to me -- I don't know a damn thing about proportionality, etc. What stood out was the bogus date group, and the bogus rank structure. All I had to do was look at the bogus date group, and I knew the document was a forgery. Sorry it was that simple. People who have served will know what I'm talking about.

I think, Ralph, you have the chronology wrong. Volokh mentions Lindgren on September 14th, and reproduces some of his e-mail on that date on his website. If there's an earlier effort by Lindgren let me know and I'll amend my remarks. But if you check out Hugh Hewitt (as I proposed some days back), you'll see many of the same and similar technical issues mentioned, on September 10 (one e-mail having arrived on the 9th) by Corky Carmichael, Professor of Computer Science at Rice, who has been in on word processing since it's birth. You'll also see a note from Paul Snively, of Apple, which predates Lindgren.


Ralph E. Luker - 9/17/2004

Well, Richard, the truth is that I sometimes do blog in my pajamas because they inspire me and I don't see why I should put on a suit and tie just to work at my computer in my office in my house. There's just a bit too much salavating going on among the righty bloggers over this. As Matt Yglesias noted, most of the evidence that the righty bloggers turned up for the documents being fraud turned out not to be true. The hard evidence that survived came from people like Jim Lindgren, who's not a blogger, and the Washington Post reporters. The righty bloggers smelled blood, howled, growled, huffed and puffed, until someone decided there might actually be a story there and it turned out that there was a story there. And, by the way, what in the abstract is the distinguishing difference between construing evidence to sustain an argument and cherrypicking data to support a point of view? We do _not_ know that CBS had serious doubts about the story; nor is it self-evidently true that it should have had serious doubts about the story. Mount all the lies told by this administration and their costs to the health of the republic on the one side and weigh them against CBS's cherrypicking. The damage done by CBS/Rather is as nothing. Don't get me started about who's guilty of reckless disregard for the truth.


Richard Henry Morgan - 9/16/2004

There are certainly topics that are more important to somebody, but the current issue is important to the blogosphere particularly because they have been systematically denigrated by mainstream media. Klein, the ex-CBS guy, offered the other day that blogs are just guys sitting in their pajamas in front of their computers, and that they don't have the multiple layers of checks that traditional media have.

This is in the wake of Jayson Blair, and now Rathergate. It would seem the checks of mainstream media are overplayed, and the corrective possibilities of the blogosphere underplayed. In any case, before I even opened up my morning paper, which was feeding off rather's broadcast from the night before, I knew from the blogosphere that there were problems with this story -- the old technology can't keep pace, and it can't summon up the collective expertise of the blogosphere in a comparable time.

The blogosphere is indeed preoccupied with the story for particularly self-regarding reasons -- this may turn out to be a watershed moment, or tipping point, in media reorganization. One thing is clear. This story lays bare the way in which mainstream media contructs stories. They cherry pick data favorable to their point of view, and even accept dubious data, while stepping over contrary data. This is one of the untoward and unanticipated consequences of Times v. Sullivan. That precedent creates a perverse incentive not to follow up info at odds with a thesis, since if you had serious doubts about a story, and ran with it anyway, then you meet the test of one of the prongs of actual malice that entails libel -- reckless disregard for the truth.