If George Orwell could have teamed up with Lewis Carroll, maybe, just maybe, they could have concocted something as down-the-rabbit-hole-to-newspeak-(out)landish as the current CBS wisdom on those four, almost universally discredited memos trashing George W. Bush's Air National Guard service. After a week in the media pillory, beginning in the blogosphere and spreading even to the mainstream media bastions of the Washington Post and ABC News, Dan Rather and CBS have suggested, barely, that their documents may be fake.
They insist, though, that the content is accurate. "Those who have criticized aspects of our story have never criticized the heart of it, the major thrust of our report," Dan Rather told viewers Wednesday night.
Whoop-de-do. Even if this were so (it's not), it's not a Good Housekeeping seal of approval. After all, what's the point of tearing out the "heart" of totally phony "aspects"? If something is pronounced a forgery, it does not exactly follow that the forgery is also accurate. Who could think such a thing ? who, that is, besides CBS?
Enter Marian Carr Knox, the 86-year-old, former secretary who spent 22 years at Ellington Air Force Base working for different officers, among them the late Lt. Col. Jerry Killian. It's Lt. Col. Killian's name, of course, that appears on the Keystone Cop-sloppy documents on which CBS has staked its story, its anchorman and its reputation, maybe through the heart. Mrs. Knox might have remained a peripheral figure, but having pronounced the memos fake but accurate, the retired typist has emerged as CBS' poster girl.
Mrs. Knox's media presence has been brief but intense. The earliest reference I could find appears deep in a Houston Chronicle story: "Last week, Knox said she had no first-hand knowledge of Bush's time with the Texas Air National Guard, although she did recall a culture of special treatment for the sons of prominent people, such as Bush and others." No first-hand knowledge? What a difference a week makes. "I remember vividly when Bush was there and all the yak-yak that was going on about it," Mrs. Knox told the Dallas Morning News. She also piped up about Mr. Bush being "unfit for office" and "selected, not elected."