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Last updated on July 16th, 2017 at 11:50 am
It has been three years since we aired our much-maligned story on President Bush’s National Guard service and reaped a whirlwind of right-wing outrage and talk radio retaliation. That part of the assault on our story was not unexpected. In September 2004, anyone who had the audacity to even ask impertinent questions about the president was certain to be figuratively kicked in the head by the usual suspects.
Mapes and Rather didn’t “ask impertinent questions”. They presented an illl-researched and easily debunked load of garbage as the truth.
What was different in our case was the brand new and bruising power of the conservative blogosphere, particularly the extremists among them. They formed a tightly knit community of keyboard assault artists who saw themselves as avenging angels of the right, determined to root out and decimate anything they believed to be disruptive to their worldview.
No; they simply disproved CBS’s memo story.
Instantly, the far right blogosphere bully boys pronounced themselves experts on document analysis, and began attacking the form and font in the memos.
But they captured the argument. They dominated the discussion by churning out gigabytes of mind-numbing internet dissertations about the typeface in the memos, focusing on the curl at the end of the “a,” the dip on the top of the “t,” the spacing, the superscript, which typewriters were used in the military in 1972.
This is called “research”. And, by the way, “mind-numbing internet dissertations” generally don’t capture arguments, on account of them being, well, mind-numbing and all. Critics of the Mapes/Rather report won notice because they argued smartly and presented compelling evidence.
It was a deceptive approach, and it worked.
Deception by facts. How downright sneaky!