Diana West

    By the time she met up with the New York Times, Mrs. Knox had just about morphed into Lt. Col. Killian's old aide-de-camp. "We did discuss Bush's conduct and it was a problem Killian was concerned about," the former typist told the newspaper of record. Her bottom line: the CBS docs are fake but accurate. Indeed, the New York Times titled its story, "Memos on Bush Are Fake But Accurate, Typist Says."

    The Times also interviewed David Van Os, a lawyer whose client, Bill Burkett, is strongly suspected of being the source of the CBS memos. Councilor Van Os had this to say about fakery and accuracy: "If someone in the year 2004 had prepared on a word processor replicas of documents that they believed had existed in 1972 or 1973 ? which Bill Burkett has absolutely not done," he added ? "what difference would it make?"

    What difference would it make? Truth, proof and the rules of evidence aren't faring too well when an actual lawyer needs reminding that passing phony government documents ? even "replicas" ? as the real McCoy is rather widely considered fraud. Which is a crime. But maybe things have to get worse before they get better. According to the Los Angeles Times editorial page, "CBS' real error was trying to prove a point that really didn't need to be proved." In other words, the media don't need fakes or replicas in order to be accurate. Just take our word.

Which brings us back to Dan Rather, who seems to have taken the LA Times' editorial to heart. ("Courage," as he might say.) Having seen the authenticity of his precious memos shrivel up and die under the scrutiny of responsible media, Mr. Rather has junked the rules of journalism, relaying to his audience not what the evidence tells him, but what he wants to tell his audience: that George Bush was a National Guard screw-up. Why is he doing this? This is where things get really weird. As he told the New York Observer this week, "the truth of these documents lies in the signatures and in the content, not just the typeface and the font-style." Come again? Summing up Mr. Rather's opinion, the newspaper wrote that the "supposed stalemate" over the documents' authenticity "left nothing but the truth at the center of the documents."

    Huh? Guess we'll just have to take Dan's word for it. And why not ? This is CBS News: Fake but accurate.

Diana West

Diana West is the author of American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character (St. Martin's Press, 2013), and The Death of the Grown-Up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization (St. Martin's Press, 2007).