Ann Coulter

Why do TV commentators on CBS' forgery-gate insist on issuing lengthy caveats to the effect that of course this was an innocent mistake and no one is accusing Dan Rather of some sort of "conspiracy," and respected newsman Dan Rather would never intentionally foist phony National Guard documents on an unsuspecting public merely to smear George Bush, etc., etc.?

I'll admit, there's a certain sadistic quality to such overwrought decency toward Dan Rather. But how does Bill O'Reilly know what Dan Rather was thinking when he put forged documents on the air? I know liberals have the paranormal ability to detect racism and sexism, but who knew O'Reilly could read an anchorman's mind just by watching him read the news?

What are the odds that Dan Rather would have accepted such patently phony documents from, say, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth?

As we now know, CBS' own expert told them there were problems with the documents ? the main one being that they were clearly fakes dummied up at a Kinko's outlet from somebody's laptop at 4 a.m.

According to ABC News, document examiner Emily Will was hired by CBS to vet the documents. But when she raised questions about the documents' authenticity and strongly warned CBS not to use the documents on air, CBS ignored her. Will concluded: "I did not feel that they wanted to investigate it very deeply."

Within hours of the documents being posted on CBS' website, moderately observant fourth-graders across America noticed that the alleged early '70s National Guard documents were the product of Microsoft Word. If that wasn't bad enough, The New York Times spent the following week hailing Rather for his "journalistic coup" in obtaining the documents that no other newsman had (other than Jayson Blair).

By now, all reputable document examiners in the Northern Hemisphere dispute the documents' authenticity. Even the Los Angeles Times has concluded that the documents are fraudulent ? and when you fail to meet the ethical standards of the L.A. Times, you're in trouble.

In Dan Rather's defense, it must be confessed, he is simply a newsreader. Now that Walter Cronkite is retired, Rather is TV's real-life Ted Baxter without Baxter's quiet dignity. No one would ever suggest that he has any role in the content of his broadcast. To blame Dan Rather for what appears on his program would be like blaming Susan Lucci for the plot of "All My Children."

The person to blame is Ted Baxter's producer, Mary Mapes. Mapes apparently decided: We'll run the documents calling Bush a shirker in the National Guard, and if the documents turn out to be fraudulent we'll:

a) Blame Karl Rove;
b) Say the documents don't matter.

But if the documents are irrelevant to the question of Bush's Guard duty, then why did CBS bring them up? Why not just say: "The important thing is for you to take our word for it!"

Interestingly, the elite (and increasingly unwatched) media always make "mistakes" in the same direction. They never move too quickly to report a story unfavorable to liberals.

In 1998, CNN broadcast its famous "Tailwind" story, falsely accusing the U.S. military of gassing American defectors in Laos during the Vietnam War. (This was part of liberals' long-standing support for "the troops.") The publishing industry regularly puts out proven frauds such as: "I, Rigoberta Menchu" (a native girl's torture at the hands of the right-wing Guatemalan military), "Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture" (a liberal fantasy of a gun-free colonial America), "Fortunate Son: George W. Bush and the Making of an American President" (a book by a convicted felon with wild stories of George Bush's drug use), and the unsourced nutty fantasies of Kitty Kelley.

In a book out this week, Kelley details many anonymous charges against the Bush family, such as that Laura Bush was a pot dealer in college, George W. Bush was the first person in America to use cocaine back in 1968, and he also regularly consorted with a prostitute in Texas who was then silenced by the CIA.

Kelley backs up her shocking allegations with names of highly credentialed people ? who have absolutely no connection to the events she is describing. No one directly involved is on the record, and the people on the record have never met anyone in the Bush family. In other words, her stories have been "vetted" enough to be included on tonight's "CBS Evening News" with Dan Rather.

The New York Times review blamed Kelley's gossip mongering on "a cultural climate in which gossip and innuendo thrive on the Internet." Kelley has been writing these books for decades, so apparently, like the Texas Air National Guard, Kelley was on the Internet ? and being influenced by it ? back in the '70s. As I remember it, for the past few years it has been the Internet that keeps dissecting and discrediting the gossip and innuendo that the major media put out.

Curiously, all this comes at the precise moment that speculation is at a fever pitch about whether Kitty Kelley is in the advanced stages of syphilis. According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: "Approximately 3 percent to 7 percent of persons with untreated syphilis develop neurosyphilis, a sometimes serious disorder of the nervous system."

Dr. Jonathan Zenilman, M.D., associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University, has found there is an "inter-relationship" between STDs and truck routes in Baltimore. I'm not at liberty to reveal the names of my sources, but there are three or four highly placed individuals in the publishing industry who say Miss Kelley or someone who closely resembles her is a habitue of truck routes in Baltimore.

While opinions differ as to whether Miss Kelley's behavior can be explained by syphilis or some other STD, people who went to Harvard ? and Harvard is one of the top universities in the nation ? say her path is consistent with someone in the advanced stages.

Amid the swirling dispute over her STDs, there is only one way for Kelley to address this issue: Release her medical records. As someone who would like to be thought of as her friend said anonymously: "For your own good, Ms. Kelley, I would get those medical records out yesterday." This doesn't have to be public. She may release her medical records to me, or if she'd be more comfortable, to my brothers.

Since TV commentators have assured me that Dan Rather is an equal opportunity idiot, Kelley had better clear all this up before someone slips this column to CBS. As a precaution, I've written this on a 1972 Selectric typewriter.