Microsoft Word, CBS, and Document Forgery

by Ted Wallingford

Related link:

CBS reported a few days ago that the President's Air National Guard commanders were giving him special considerations under duress. Their evidence for this reporting was a group of 4 documents that were supposed to have been created by his then-commanding officer in 1972.

Interestingly enough, it seems the documents may have been actually created in Microsoft Word--quite a feat considering Bill Gates hadn't even founded Microsoft until 1975.

It just happens that I saw the PDF versions of the memos prior to actually reading the news story. I didn't know the story yet--and I thought these documents were somebody's idea of a prank, the product of some nerdy college freshmen with a political sense of humor. They were so out-of-vintage that I automatically assumed they were fakes. Ironically, it's quite plausible this really is a prank, and CBS got recklessly duped.

As content software becomes more advanced, will document forgery become easier?


2004-09-15 07:14:03
Don't believe everything you read.
Keep in mind that none of the people claiming the docs are forgeries have actually seen anything close to an original document.,1759,1644869,00.asp

The Air Force was evaluating IBM Selectrics and Selectric Composers in 1969.

There may be questions about the provenance of the documents, but the claim that the documents were written in Word is one of the most willfully ignorant and disingenuous arguments a person could make.

Even leaving these documents aside (the content of which has been verified as reflecting Killian's situation and thoughts at the time by Killian's secretary and superior officer), the rest of the evidence makes it pretty clear that George W. Bush got preferential treatment to get into the Guard, and got preferential treatment to get an honorable discharge after he failed to take a required physical, got grounded, and skipped out on his obligations to complete his duty, actions that would have resulted in some other poor fool's son being shipped out to Vietnam. "Fortunate Son", indeed.

Ah yes, the president who stands for "personal responsibility".

2004-09-15 07:47:08
I don't believe what I just read
A little animosity aimed at the incumbant never hurts when you're trying to make a point. But was I talking about presidential mud-slinging here, or Microsoft Word?

Now, putting aside the political stuff, based on my familiarity with Microsoft Word and the ease with which these documents could be exactly cloned using my favorite word processor's default font and type size, I would tend to agree with the debunkers.

Coincidentally, the documents' font, as we know them today, didn't even exist in 1972-- Selectric or not.

2004-09-15 08:26:58
I don't believe what I just read

"But was I talking about presidential mud-slinging here, or Microsoft Word?"

Unfortunately, this story involves both. Did you look at the pc mag link? Do you honestly think you could actually make any sort of determination based on looking at a pdf of a who knows what generation copy?

As far as the history of Times New Roman, please read the following:
and especially note this quote:

"Courier's vanquisher was Times New Roman, designed in 1931 by Stanley Morison, Typographical Advisor to the Monotype Corporation, with the assistance of draughtsman Victor Lardent. The Times of London first used it the following year. Linotype and Intertype quickly licensed the design, changing its name for their marketing purposes to Times Roman. Times Roman became an original core font for Apple in the 1980s and Times New Roman MT became one for Windows in the 1990s. (Ironically, at the same time IBM invited Frutiger to adapt Univers for the Selectric Typewriter, they asked Morison to do the same with Times New Roman.)"

2004-09-15 08:42:00
I don't believe what I just read
"Do you honestly think you could actually make any sort of determination based on looking at a pdf of a who knows what generation copy?"

Sounds like CBS was willing to stake their reputation on copies of copies. You now have former FBI document experts, typesetting experts, typewriter experts ... and experts on experts who all say that the documents are false. Nobody not working for CBS news has come forward to say the documents are real. Even the lady who did the typing for Lt. Col. Jerry Killian while he was Bush's National Guard Commander says that the documents are "most certainly" fakes.

I have no doubt IBM had the typewriters and fonts available at the same time the documents were written. There is a lot of doubt whether the Texas Air National Guard had the equipment, though.

2004-09-15 09:15:43
Perhaps you could say last week that they got 'duped'. Until now CBS stands by its story, against all evidence. That, in fact, makes them a party in the fraud.
2004-09-15 12:45:40
No credibility at all
Considering what has been said so far by the debunkers:

(1) Font didn't exist then. (FALSE)
(2) No typewriter ever did proportional spacing. (FALSE)

and so on and so on, why would people believe the debunkers? They lost credibility the first day.

Besides, if the docs were indeed forgeries, why didn't Pres. Bush just say that what the documents refer to never happened? He could've said that the first day, and saved us all some trouble.

2004-09-15 16:37:32
What next?
Will CBS produce the actual documents, either typed with an authentic typewriter or maybe even handwritten, and then validate their sources? It's probably too late to say what they showed was transcribed.....

Or will they admit that the actual documents shown never actually existed?

Personally I believe the case for a college prank is as plausable as any. I could see it happening


2004-09-16 05:26:12
2004-09-16 06:28:54
I don't believe what I just read
Such proportional typewriters back then cost about $4000, required special permission to procure, and were difficult to operate. Does anyone seriously believe that a National Guard office would have een allowed to buy equipment this expensive simply for use by secretaries typing ordinary memos?
2004-09-16 12:42:37
I don't believe what I just read
CBS released their letter from A&M Matley, one of the document examiners employed by them, which states that "I observed nothing about the documents that could disprove their authenticity." Additionally, CBS released a statement backing up the story. CBS states that "the report was not based solely on the physical documents, but also on numerous credible sources who supported what the documents said."