CBS Compressed, Dan Rather StrikeThrough

The big hoot at the typographers conference this weekend in the Poconos was Dan Rather’s ham-handed forgeries. It does my typographic heart good to see so many people arguing about fonts, but I can’t believe that people at CBS could be so stupid. Last week’s 60 Minutes attack on President Bush’s National Guard service used four documents purported to be typewritten by Texas Air National Guard officials in 1972 and 1973.

The first glance at the first document on the list (click at left) should have sent up warning flares: centered headlines, proportional Times Roman font, true superscripts, suspiciously tight letterspacing, curly quotes — to assume this page came from the typewriter of a lieutenant colonel in Texas (whose family says he didn’t type) in 1972 took an affirmative suspension of disbelief. There must be someone at CBS old enough to remember typewritten manuscript and to have been skeptical about these pages, especially in light of the many stylistic errors and the fact that so many other parts of the story are shaky.

As tracked by Mickey Kaus in Slate, many smart blogs like the formidable FlounderCraft, Powerline and Little Green Footballs started picking the documents apart the moment they hit the airwaves, and of course the inevitable conspiracy theories have sprung up blaming dark forces for the confusion.

Unindicted co-conspirators like the Boston Globe have been caught shaving the truth, and competitors like Investors Business Daily and ABC News have helpfully pointed out that “questions are being raised.”

Who cares what either candidate did thirty years ago? Whichever side you’re on in the presidential contest, it’s fun to see the pompous, improvident grandsons of Murrow get caught with their thumbs on the scale by a posse of bloggers in their pajamas. I love the Internet.