Flash! ABC Memo a Forgery!

Rich Galen On Friday evening, just prior to the beginning of the second debate between John Kerry and George W. Bush, a memo appeared on the Drudge web site which was allegedly written by ABC News political Director, Mark Halperin.

The memo, which is available on the Drudge website, claims that Halperin suggested to his ABC News colleagues they should treat the mistakes, distortions and contextual trickery by the Bush campaign more seriously than they do the mistakes, distortions and contextual trickery as offered up by the Kerry campaign.

As soon as the memo hit the Web, bloggers began weighing in on whether or not it might be a forgery.

Computer printing expert (and sometime actor) Steve "Johann" Gutenberg blogged almost immediately that there was "no way that memo could have been produced on a modern word processor." Gutenberg said there has not been a document produced which has looked like that "since the last Wang disappeared."

Another blogger, Ottmar "Big Otts" Mergenthaler, whose distant ancestor invented the Linotype machine, weighed in by saying he had examined the memo on Drudge and had determined it "could only have been produced on a manual typewriter, probably around 1972, most likely in an office of the Texas Air National Guard."

Mary Mapes, the CBS producer who brought us the forged documents about George W. Bush was not immediately available for comment, but Mullings has determined that early reports suggesting she was referring all calls to the press office of the Kerry campaign were in error.

Dear Mr. Mullings: We don't think this is parody is working as well as you might have hoped, do you? Signed, The Writing Staff at Saturday Night Live

Nah. Guess not.

Ok, first things first. I've known Mark Halperin for more than a decade. I have never known him to be anything other than absolutely fair and upfront with me. When we have had off-the-record discussions they have remained off-the-record. When we have disagreed on an analysis the disagreement has never descended into hurt feelings.

He oversees a daily political update called, "The Note" which began as an internal heads-up from the political department at ABC to the wider news staff. Over the years it has become an important source of political info to the much wider group of interested parties and is now publicly available on the ABC News website.

Having said all that, this is the sort of thing which makes Conservatives ever more suspicious of the popular press.

I suspect a good deal of what the press doesn't like about the Bush campaign is not connected to the Bush campaign. It goes back to the Swift Boat Veterans ads following Kerry's convention.

Those ads did a great deal of damage and the charges went largely unanswered by the Kerry campaign. The charges did not, however, go unanswered in the press. The national press corps took it upon themselves to do Kerry's job for him.

While it was suggested that a $250,000 ad buy marked the end of political fairness forever, there has been a suspicious lack of reporting about the tens of millions of dollars which have been poured into the campaign to defeat President Bush by billionaire George Soros.

Who? George Soros? Never heard of him? What a surprise.

A Google news search last night found a reference on the MSNBC web page which was the on-line version of a piece in this week's Newsweek. The international edition of Newsweek. In that story, reporter Marcus Mabry writes that Soros plans to spend up to $25 million of his own money in the anti-Bush effort.

If a Republican were spending $25 million to defeat John Kerry he (or she) would be portrayed as being so dangerous to the political process that Lord Voldemort would look like Shirley Temple in comparison.

So, I don't think Mark Halperin meant to do any damage the Bush campaign. But when this campaign is over, the press corps owes everyone a full-scale review of what they covered and how they covered it.

Copyright © 2004 Richard A. Galen

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