Sunday, April 17, 2011

Rathergate memos. My own made-up conspiracy theory.

I used to post a lot of comments in the threads at the website "Little Green Footballs". Shouldn't be too hard for anyone who cares to figure out my username. I still lurk and occasionally post comments and hold Charles Johnson in high regard for his tireless work exposing and opposing radicalism and BS that permeates politics. The Internet has ended the traditional media's control over which news stories get reported and which get ignored and that changed everything. Charles and LGF helped tear down that wall.

I owe a lot to CJ. LGF took me in as a Paleocon washed ashore in a Rathergate "Drudge Wave" in September 2004. I caught a registration window after a couple weeks. Over months and years and thousands of threads I learned about all sorts of topics in history and politics. It opened my mind and made me equally skeptical of left-wing and right-wing propaganda. I'd describe my own politics now as "classical liberal". I know that posters come and go and no one really misses anyone when they quit hanging out there, but I don't want anyone to think I flounced or have some kind of issue with the content of the threads. Keep on rocking in the free world, Charles.

One of the things I learned a lot about at LGF is how many goofball wacky conspiracy theories are out there. Over time I became quite an aficionado of the whole genre of conspiracy theories. Not that I believed them, just that I found it interesting how seemingly intelligent people can be convinced to believe almost anything. Good CT's always start with a shred of truth to sound reasonable but then veer into wild speculation that ignores all contrary facts and data that undermine the theory. Typically the intent of the CT is to place blame for some evil thing on political enemies, to justify racism or some other form of hate, or in some cases to explain the missing pieces of a story. 

So on that note, I introduce and claim my own made-up conspiracy theory about Rathergate.  Like all good CT's, there isn't proof to support it..Yet.  Contrary evidence and fact-checking is welcome, but like any good CT spreader, I will consider any data and facts that undermine my theory as evidence of just how far the other guys will go to keep the truth concealed!  ha.   

I think the Rathergate memos were illegally obtained documents that were scanned and saved as Microsoft Word documents using optical character recognition software.  I think it happened during the early months of the Clinton administration when the FBI files of GOP leaders went missing for months and then mysteriously reappeared and were returned. Its hard to imagine those files were simply misplaced and no one in the Clinton White House rummaged through them. 

Whether the goal was to use the secret documents to sway elections or just to sell them for cash, it was a simple plan poorly executed.  They couldn't make paper copies of all the documents.  It would be too risky sneaking around with stacks of paper. Just ask Sandy Berger about that..  So they scanned the juiciest pages and saved them to files.  But the boneheads saved the scanned documents as .doc files, not as .jpg images.  Probably the default setting on the Rose Law Firm OCR software package they used. 

Someone sat on those documents all that time waiting for the right moment to cash them in. In 2004 CBS and Dan Rather bit the hook and ran with the story on 60 Minutes and boldly posted the Killian documents on their website like a picture of a trophy fish. But then unhelpful fact-checkers on the net found and spread the evidence that the Killian documents could not possibly have been copies of documents that were typed in the 1960's. The text on the document perfectly matched the default settings on Microsoft Word and the spacing between characters could not have come from any typewriter from that era. Boom done. Game over. It was brutal for Dan Rather and CBS. They tried to stick to their story for a while, but just made fools of themselves doing so. Rather's long illustrious career ended in shame and CBS was a laughingstock for failing to do any sort of checking into the validity of highly damaging documents from a shadowy source.

I see two possibilities. Either someone completely fabricated the Rathergate memos, or they were genuine documents that were illegally obtained. I think the latter theory is more plausible. I just can't see anyone dumb enough to use a computer to make such a controversial and damning document and try to pass it along as being from the 1960's. Anyone that deviant would have spent $50 and bought an old used typewriter. But if a reliable known source gave an egomaniac media star like Dan Rather a wink and whispered to him that they had some top secret documents from GWB's personal file available for use, he might be so giddy at the good fortune that dropped in his lap that the fact-checking seemed unnecessary.

I wonder what the reaction was from the ones responsible for the whole operation when they realized the fundamental f-up in the grandiose plan.  What a hoot that must have been.

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