Sunday, September 12, 2004

Questions for CBS

Alert reader J.N. writes in: "Um . . . why not check with the postmaster - did PO Box 34567 exist then? Does it now?"

Good question! The blogosphere has been hung up on the technical aspects of these documents, but there are lots of factual aspects which can be checked by real reporters. Like this story, which claims

An order obtained by The Dallas Morning News shows that Col. Walter "Buck" Staudt was honorably discharged March 1, 1972. CBS News reported this week that a memo in which Staudt was described as interfering with officers' negative evaluations of the future president's service was dated Aug. 18, 1973.

Here's a chance for the old media to redeem itself.

UPDATE 11:48 a.m.: Another alert reader notes, "I was an admin troop in 1974-1978,  guess what--we in the military date letters and memos with '1 Aug 73' not '01 August 1973'.  I have been in the Air Force for 27 years and we don't date single digits with zero's or spell out the month.  Look a little closer at military writing instructions from that period." More grist for the blogosphere.


Anonymous said...

The reader is correct to raise a question about the oddly sequential post-office box number. The lack of official letterhead and any mention of the base on which the unit was based (a pal in Texas tells me it was/is Ellington AFB) also bear scrutiny. An examination of the President's authenticated records would reveal if the unit used an official stationery or, if it didn't, what the address block looked like. It also would reveal how other orders were transmitted to then-Lt. Bush: by memorandum, letter, or some sort of USAF form? Are the references to various Air Force manuals correct? Even if the referenced manual existed, did they address the issues that are the subject of the memos? A couple of calls to the Air Force Historical Office would clear that up quite quickly.
You're right: "old media" can save its reputation (even if Dan Rather is fast losing any chance of saving his), but only if investigates every aspect of these documents, not just the matters of typefaces and typewriters.

Kirk said...

Another example of a document that uses the same 34567 PO Box address