[[Oct. 3 update: I added pictures from Paul’s post at Wizbang to this early Oct. 2 post.]] I have waited to post on this until things are mostly sorted out, but I expect much more to come out today, when Wizbang (who broke this story) provides significant updates.
Several days ago, Associate Professor David Hailey of Utah State University posted a report on the internet that purported to provide evidence for his opinion that the Bush Guard memos were typed. As you know, virtually every competent expert who had come forth concluded that the memos were almost certainly produced on a computer, probably using Times New Roman font in Microsoft Word.
CBS producer Mary Mapes was so impressed by Hailey’s report that she sent it out to support the story.
People were amazed that Hailey had come up with a typewriter that could come fairly close to producing text from the memos (but not as close in my opinion as Microsoft Word). Naturally, people were curious what sort of previously unknown typewriter it was that could produce a font that looked like computer output. Strangely, Hailey didn’t say in his report.
But as Paul and Kevin at Wizbang (and later other bloggers) began to look at the report, it began to collapse. Wizbang disclosed that the superscript “th” looked very different from the rest of the type. Indeed, it appeared as if it had been floated into place using a program such as PhotoShop. [[Click to enlarge.]]
Then Wizbang discovered what might be the smoking gun: on Hailey’s own website, they discovered what appears to be an earlier draft version of the same document that had most of the text that Hailey had produced using the font “Typewriter.” But where the superscript was supposed to be, there was only a blank, as if he had not yet floated in the superscript from another font. There were also some numbers missing from the draft document in places where numbers from another font were later floated in.
[[10/3: Paul added red lines to Hailey’s draft to show some of the missing text; click to enlarge.]]
Once caught, Hailey changed his report online, without indicating that he had changed it. In the new version of the report, he disclosed that he had created his document, not on a typewriter as everyone had supposed, but instead using a computer font. He added this language, confessing for the first time that he had not typed the text supposedly matching the Killian memos:
I was able to recreate most of the defining characteristics using a font called “ITC American Typewriter Condensed.” Once I had identified the font family, I recreated the memo using characters from that font family [he is here only hinting that he combined characters from different fonts]. Do not misunderstand figure 4. My addition is not typed. It is replicated based on the characters already in the memo using a font [not true, he used more than one font] from the typewriter family as my template. It does not prove that the memos were typed, or that I can type them. It only proves that I know what the font family is and can reasonably accurately reproduce the characters in the memo. The reproductions in the memo demonstrate that and nothing more.
Going back over the original memo, it appears that he never actually said that he generated his version of the memo on a typewriter, though anyone would certainly get that impression. It was not appropriate for him not to have originally disclosed that he created the memos using computer fonts, when the other experts had claimed that that is precisely how the forgeries were produced.
Further, how can one conclude that the memos were produced on a typewriter and not using a modern computer program such as Microsoft Word if the best that you can do is produce a rough copy using a modern computer program (did Hailey also use Microsoft Word to create his copies, just like the forger)?
Moreover, the font that Hailey disclosed that he used (ITC American Typewriter Condensed) is a poor fit for the memos and (according to comments on Wizbang) was not in existence until 1974, after the memos were written. Indeed, it was such a poor fit that (apparently) Hailey had to get numbers and the superscript “th” from other fonts in the same family and insert them in the documents. Hailey has not been able to produce a typewriter that used ITC American Typewriter Condensed in 1972, because none ever existed.
To see why his font is not a good match, in the three relevant fonts (the Killian font, MS Word Times New Roman, and ITC American Typewriter Condensed) in the headers to this Killian memo compare the following characters: M, R, J, 9, 7, 2. It’s pretty obvious that Times New Roman is a much closer match than ITC American Typewriter Condensed.
In light of all this, consider the beginning of Hailey’s Report, the Abstract:
The following evidence from a forensic examination of the Bush memos indicates that they were typed on a typewriter:
1. The specific font used is from a typewriter family in common use since 1905 and a typewriter capable of producing the spacing has been available since 1944.
Since Hailey was not able to identify the “specific font,” instead creating his copy by picking and choosing characters from different fonts (without disclosing that fact in his original report, and only hinting at it in the current report), it would be impossible for him to make this claim. Yet it is the first “fact” in his abstract.
In the report itself, he goes even further:
The font is a common typewriter typeface invented at the beginning of the 20th century and in continuous use until the computer replaced the typewriter. The font’s name is “Typewriter.” Although the typeface was somewhat modified for civilian communities in the 1960s, it remained commonplace in the military well into the 1970s. In short, the Bush memos were produced in a version of Typewriter commonly used in the military at the time.
This is quite stunning. Hailey has not identified the font used and he used more than one font to create his relatively poor copies, yet he confidently asserts the name of the font and when it was created. Then, without having located any machine that used the main font that he actually used to create his copies (ITC American Typewriter Condensed), he asserts flat out that “the Bush memos were produced in a version of Typewriter commonly used in the military at the time.” How could he know this without having identified the font used or found any machine in 1972 that could have produced it? Obviously, he couldn’t. Hailey has no substantial basis, scholarly or otherwise, for making these claims.
To say that his report is shoddy scholarship would be an understatement.
There is another reason that I have not posted until now, besides the one mentioned earlier—that is the tone of the criticisms. I do not endorse any claims that have been made that Professor Hailey committed fraud, nor do I think that he should lose his tenure as some have suggested. I believe that Hailey misled people by not disclosing that most of his documents using multiple “Typewriter” fonts were not produced on a typewriter, and that Hailey is still not being fully candid by not disclosing clearly enough that the font he favors was such a poor match that he had to import characters from at least one other font (perhaps from the same “family”). I do not, however, believe that he should be subject to more than the normal punishment for extremely shoddy scholarly work—the disapproval of his peers.
I will continue to give Hailey the benefit of the doubt and assume that in the next few days, he will begin making amends.
UPDATE: Instapundit comments on my post (in which I corrected some of my typos):
COMING NEXT, AN EFFORT TO REHABILITATE PHLOGISTON CHEMISTRY: Jim Lindgren notes that an attempt at demonstrating that CBS’s forged documents might have been done on a typewriter has fallen apart.
This is hardly a surprise, of course. But it wouldn’t be much of a vindication for CBS even if, through some miracle, the documents turned out to be genuine. It’s quite clear now that CBS acted without concern for the genuineness of the documents, and in fact in the teeth of opinions from its own experts that the documents were probably bogus. No amount of after-the-fact lawyering can change that evidence of journalistic bias and ineptitude, though CBS’s namecalling of its critics, and general stonewalling, compounds the offense and moves it from negligence to the category of ‘reckless disregard.”
2D UPDATE: Definitely go read Paul’s new description of many of the things he discovered and revealed earlier. It provides the visual evidence that my account lacks, as well as being an account from the people who have owned this story–Wizbang.