The Hess Report


Saturday, September 11, 2004

I'm a bit of a political junkie. And so it was that several nights ago, I found myself reading page after page and staying up way too late following the cascade of evidence about CBS's document forgery scandal, being referred by some as Rathergate. For as long as I can remember, I've thought that network newspeople were, at best, blowhards, or at worst, actors. Simple entertainers who are reading from a teleprompter. Anything else they purport to bring to the table is mere pretense.

For centuries, the priests of the Catholic church (and, to be fair, many others), twisted and turned the words of the Testaments to suit their own needs, and there was no way anyone could argue. Only the priests had copies of the Bible, and usually, only they could read. But once Gutenberg began using movable type, Bibles fell into the hands of more and more people. Once they were in enough hands, it was very difficult for the priests to hold onto their absolute power. They're still powerful, mind you, but there is a lot of dissent, and much has changed since those days.

Dan Rather at CBS is one of those priests. What he fails to realize is that basically any American over the age of 10 can prove quite simply that the documents in question were created in Microsoft Word. The technology is ubiquitous, and thanks to hundreds of millions of dollars in R&D, user friendly. It is as though he is claiming that he and CBS stand by their story that it is in fact raining in Pittsburgh, when any schmo in the burgh can look out the window and see the cloudless, blue skies.

I'm fascinated. If I had fewer other projects in the works, I'd make a little video of Dan, diving in slow motion off the 10M platform at the Olympics, into an emtpy pool, flapping his arms and smiling grimly at the camera.

Good times.

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