Rather Refutes Attacks on Guard Story

Sep 10, 2004  •  Post A Comment

“CBS Evening News” anchor Dan Rather on Friday refuted attacks on the authenticity of recently revealed documents that he cited in a report raising new questions about the Texas Air National Guard service of President Bush.

“I know this story is true,” Mr. Rather said in an interview with CNN. He also said there has been no discussion at CBS News about an apology or a retraction. Later Friday, in an “Evening News” segment addressing key charges about the memos, Mr. Rather said CBS News was not surprised by the attack.

The initial report by Mr. Rather on the Sept. 8 edition of “60 Minutes” addressed questions about whether an influential Bush family friend had used political influence to keep Mr. Bush out of the Vietnam-era draft, and whether Mr. Bush had disobeyed a direct order, been grounded after failing to undergo a required physical and failure to perform adequately, and had completed his Air National Guard duties.

Mr. Rather’s “60 Minutes” report included experts’ opinions that the memos, said to have been written by one of Mr. Bush’s commanders, were authentic.

A debate taking place largely on the Internet and cable news about the memos made its way into print Friday as a number of major newspapers reported on charges of forgery, which centered largely on the raised characters “th,” called superscript, and the typeface, which critics said could not have been produced by a typewriter available in 1972 and 1973.

In a segment broadcast Friday night on “CBS Evening News,” Mr. Rather cited proof that the typeface had existed since 1931 and that a 1968 White House memo included a superscript “th” produced by one typewriter key.

The “Evening News” rebuttal to critics noted that the White House had not discredited the documents.

Mr. Rather concluded the “Evening News” segment by saying: “The ’60 Minutes’ report was based not solely on the recovered documents … but on a preponderance of evidence … including documents that were provided by unimpeachable sources … and interviews with former officials of the Texas National Guard. If any definitive evidence to the contrary of our story is found, we will report it.”