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Rather Stonewalls, Fails to Address Evidence, Derides Critics --9/13/2004


1. Rather Stonewalls, Fails to Address Evidence, Derides Critics
Dan Rather, on Friday's CBS Evening News, spent nearly six minutes defending his Wednesday 60 Minutes story which used 32-year-old memos to impugn President Bush, documents which have come under wide suspicion of being forgeries. But instead of addressing those concerns, Rather stonewalled as he employed loaded language to reiterate the charges about supposed Bush misdeeds and put them in the worst possible light, denigrated his critics as "partisan political operatives" even though many mainstream media outlets have featured experts who concluded the memos are fakes, including NBC News and CNN (see item #2 below), distorted the issue of whether typewriters could do superscript in 1972, discounted the charge that the font used wasn't available on typewriters in the early 1970s by making the irrelevant point that the font was invented in 1931, ignored other font/spacing/kerning issues which have led experts to decide the memos are fakes, and he concluded by having a Bush-bashing author assert the White House was letting the "blogosphere" undermine charges they know are true.

2. Wash Post, NBC, CNN and FNC Feature Experts Who See Forgeries
Despite Dan Rather's insistence that he's been targeted by "partisan political operatives" (see item #1 above), a lot of mainstream journalists have been willing to challenge CBS. The Washington Post, NBC News and CNN on Friday all featured document experts who doubted the authenticity of the memos touted by CBS News and FNC talked to a contemporary officer in the Texas Air National Guard who identified several factual flaws in the memos.

3. Earlier in Day Rather Paints Effort to Suppress Truth-Telling
A CNN camera caught Dan Rather late Friday morning on a Manhattan street outside the headquarters of CBS News as he treated the controversy over his reporting as a battle between the CBS News truth-tellers and politically-motivated hacks for he administration who want to suppress that truth. "The Bush/Cheney campaign took their shots at us," Rather asserted, but "they have not answered the question of, did or did not the President obey a direct order from his military superior while he was a Lieutenant?" Dismissing as a "rumor" reports that CBS News had begun an investigation of the authenticity of the memos, Rather argued: "You can tell who is shell-shocked by the ferocity of the people who are spreading these rumors."


Rather Stonewalls, Fails to Address Evidence,
Derides Critics

Dan Rather, on Friday's CBS Evening News, spent nearly six minutes defending his Wednesday 60 Minutes story which used 32-year-old memos to impugn President Bush, documents which have come under wide suspicion of being forgeries. But instead of addressing those concerns, Rather stonewalled as he employed loaded language to reiterate the charges about supposed Bush misdeeds and put them in the worst possible light, denigrated his critics as "partisan political operatives" even though many mainstream media outlets have featured experts who concluded the memos are fakes, including NBC News and CNN (see item #2 below), distorted the issue of whether typewriters could do superscript in 1972, discounted the charge that the font used wasn't available on typewriters in the early 1970s by making the irrelevant point that the font was invented in 1931, ignored other font/spacing/kerning issues which have led experts to decode the memos are fakes, and he concluded by having a Bush-bashing author assert the White House was letting the "blogosphere" undermine charges they know are true.

CBSNews.com has posted a video of the entire CBS Evening News presentation by Rather. Be advised however, that if you use Netscape the links for CBSNews.com videos do not work. If you use Internet Explorer, the video screen will launch, but if you use RealPlayer you'll get a blank screen, though the audio will play. Windows Media Player does seem to work, but you cannot advance through the video. To try your luck with the video of the Rather presentation: www.cbsnews.com

Further below is a full and accurate transcript of Rather's September 10 lecture to his audience, but before that a rundown of specific issues and problems I saw with Rather's bombast, which consumed a lengthy five minutes and 50 seconds and was the third story on the CBS Evening News following pieces on Hurricane Ivan's approach:

# Rather used the occasion to reiterate, using very loaded language and with the "questions" on screen, CBS's attacks on Bush based all or in part of the questionable memos supposedly written by Bush's commander in the Texas Air National Guard, the late Jerry Killian.

CBS's Dan Rather Two of Rather's questions: "Did Lieutenant Bush refuse a direct order from his commanding officer?" And: "Was Lieutenant Bush suspended for failure to perform up to Air Force standards?"

# Lashed out at critics instead of addressing the issues and evidence of forgery they have raised as he refused to provide any hint as to the source and/or agenda of whoever gave the memos to CBS News. Rather complained: "Today, on the Internet and elsewhere, some people, including many who are partisan political operatives, concentrated not on the key questions of the overall story, but on the documents that were part of the support of the story."

As if were the memos to be discredited that would not undermine the claims in them when CBS pegged its reporting of them to how they provided the first documentary evidence that Bush refused to get a physical and was removed from flight status due to not meeting "Air Force standards."


# Dissembled as he distorted the points made by experts about fonts and typography.

First, Rather asserted, over side-by-side shots of a superscript "th" in a 1968 form not in dispute and one of CBS's memos: "Critics claim typewriters didn't have that ability in the 1970s. But some models did. In fact, other Bush military records already officially released by the White House itself show the same superscript."

CBS Actually, while both examples CBS displayed on screen, of an enlarged "111th," showed a superscripted "th," they were not the same: In the old example, labeled "official record" by CBS, the "th" has an underline or score beneath it and while it is above the bottom of the "111," the top of the "th" is even with the top of the "111." In the superscript in the "new document," one of those CBS attributes to Killian, the "th," matching modern word processor convention, is much higher so half of it is above the top of the "111."

(The posted version of this CyberAlert will feature a screen shot of the two examples of "111th" displayed by CBS. Given it's a weekend, I'm not sure how soon this will get posted. In the meantime, you can, maybe, view the entire Rather story on the CBSNews.com site. See the second paragraph of this item. A note, in brackets in the full transcript below, provides a more detailed description of exactly what CBS displayed on screen.)

Second, Rather made an irrelevant point about when the Times New Roman font was invented: "Some analysts outside CBS say they believe the typeface on these memos is 'New Times Roman,' which they claim was not available in the 1970s. But the owner of the company that distributes this typing style, says it has been available since 1931."

Yes, Times New Roman has long existed and had been popular with newspapers, which used very expensive linotype systems long before the Vietnam war, but that does not address how experts have said that Times New Roman font was not common to typewriters in 1972 (See CNN story in item #2 below). It did not become ubiquitous until Adobe made it part of its "Post Script" font family (remember putting Post Script cartridges into HP Laser Jet IIs in the late 1980s?) and it simultaneously migrated into desktop publishing and Microsoft made it a default font for applications using Windows.

Furthermore, the Times New Roman in a 1972 or earlier model typewriter would have used mono-spacing, not proportional spacing as displayed in the memos.

Third, Rather failed to address the other font/typography issues, such as the curled apostrophes, how the inter-line spacing matches the current default for MS Word, the difficulty a typewriter user would have in perfectly centering text as one memo's address header reflected and how the memos also included, in non-superscript form, "th" after numbers, but they have a blank space between them and the preceding number -- which is a quick way to avoid MS Word's automatic superscripting.


# Featured a "handwriting analyst" who declared the Killian signature to be authentic, but who did not address any of the typography issues before he played arrogant martyr. The analyst, Marcel Matley, lamented: "I knew going in that this was dynamite one way or the other, and I knew that potentially it was far more potential damage to me professionally than benefit to me, and I knew that. But we seek the truth, that's what we do."


# Rather offered up Robert Strong, an administrative officer during Killian's tenure, to insist the memos matched Killian's concerns. But Rather ignored how the wife and son of the late Lieutenant Colonel maintain that he did not write memos such as the ones given to CBS News. In a phone call with FNC played on Friday's Special Report with Brit Hume (see item #2 below for more of the story), son Gary asserted: "I can tell you that he didn't type memos to himself." Gary Killian elaborated during a Friday night phone conversation on FNC's Hannity & Colmes, emphasizing that he conveyed his knowledge to a CBS News producer before the 60 Minutes piece aired.

In a Friday Washington Post article, "Question Authenticity of Papers on Bush," reporters Michael Dobbs and Mike Allen related:
"In a telephone interview from her Texas home, Killian's widow, Marjorie Connell, described the records as 'a farce,' saying she was with her husband until the day he died in 1984 and he did not 'keep files.' She said her husband considered Bush 'an excellent pilot.'
"'I don't think there were any documents. He was not a paper person,' she said, adding that she was 'livid' at CBS. A CBS reporter contacted her briefly before Wednesday night's broadcasts, she said, but did not ask her to authenticate the records."

For the September 10 Post story in full: www.washingtonpost.com


# Rather ended by showcasing Bush-bashing writer James Moore, author of the derogatory Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential and Bush's War For Re-election: Iraq, the White House, and the People, and let him declare that a duplicitous White House knows the memos are "real" yet is pleased the "blogosphere" is discrediting them. Moore alleged:
"I think what has happened is that some incriminating documents have come out. The White House, you should remember, has not discredited the documents. They're relying on the blogosphere and other people to do that, because the White House probably knows that these documents are in fact real."

END of my rundown of Rather's distortions.


Now, the Rather harangue in full. Please note that I grabbed the closed-captioning text from the MRC's new DVR system and then corrected it against the video of what actually aired and found quite a few discrepancies. So, this accurate transcript does not match versions posted elsewhere. I've also enhanced the transcript with descriptions of what viewers saw on screen. (See the second paragraph above for a link to the CBSNews.com posting of the video of this story.)

Sitting at his anchor desk with "Service Record" beneath a Vietnam-era photo of George W. Bush in a graphic above his shoulder, Rather began:
"There were attacks today on the CBS News 60 Minutes report this week raising questions about President Bush's Vietnam-era time in the Texas Air National Guard. The questions included in our report were:"
CBS's Dan Rather
Dan Rather used the forgery flap as an excuse to repeat his indictment of Bush's Guard service.

[Synopses of questions at bottom of screen below Vietnam-era picture of Bush which itself was superimposed over a spread of the memos]

"-Did a wealthy Texas oilman, friend of the Bush family, use his influence with the then-Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives to get George W. Bush a coveted slot in the National Guard, keeping him out of the draft and any probable service in Vietnam?"
[on screen: "Did connections get George W. Bush his National Guard slot?"]

"-Did Lieutenant Bush refuse a direct order from his commanding officer?"
[on screen: "Did Lieutenant Bush refuse a direct order?"]

"-Was Lieutenant Bush suspended for failure to perform up to Air Force standards?"
[on screen: "Was Lieutenant Bush suspended for failure to meet standards?"]

"-Did Lieutenant Bush ever take a physical he was required and ordered to take? If not, why not?"
[on screen: "Did Lieutenant Bush miss physical? Why?"]

"-And did Lieutenant Bush, in fact, complete his commitment to the Guard?"
[on screen: "Did Lieutenant Bush complete Guard commitments?"]

Rather at anchor desk: "These questions grew out of new witnesses and new evidence, including documents written by Lieutenant Bush's squadron commander. Today, on the Internet and elsewhere, some people, including many who are partisan political operatives, concentrated not on the key questions of the overall story, but on the documents that were part of the support of the story. They allege that the documents are fake."

At this point CBS jumped to a taped piece from Rather: "Those raising questions about the CBS documents have focused on something called superscript -- a key that automatically types a raised 'th.' Critics claim typewriters didn't have that ability in the 1970s. But some models did. In fact, other Bush military records already officially released by the White House itself show the same superscript. Here's one from 1968."

[As Rather made the above claim, on screen CBS displayed a "New Document" on left with a document in the background and an enlarged "111th," taken from the document, overlain on top of it. On the right, a document in the background labeled "Official Record" with "111th" enlarged from it overlaying the background document. Both displayed a superscripted "th." BUT THEY ARE NOT THE SAME: The "official record" superscript "th" has an underline or score beneath it and while it is above the bottom of the "111," the top of the "th" is even with the top of the "111." In the superscript in the "new document," the "th," matching modern word processor convention, is much higher so half of it is above the top of the "111."]

Rather continued: "Some analysts outside CBS say they believe the typeface on these memos is 'New Times Roman,' which they claim was not available in the 1970s. But the owner of the company that distributes this typing style, says it has been available since 1931. Document and handwriting examiner Marcel Matley analyzed the documents for CBS News. He says he believes they are real, but is concerned about exactly what is being examined by some of the people now questioning the documents. Because deterioration occurs each time a document is reproduced, and the documents being analyzed outside of CBS have been photocopied, faxed, scanned and downloaded, and are far removed from the documents CBS started with, which were also photocopies."

Over video of Rather and Matley in front of a cork board with huge blow-ups of Killian's signature from the memos, Rather explained: "Document and handwriting examiner Marcel Matley did this interview with us prior to the 60 Minutes broadcast. He looked at the documents and the signatures of Colonel Jerry Killian, comparing known documents with the Colonel's signature on the newly discovered ones."
Matley: "We looked basically at what's called significant or insignificant features to determine whether it's the same person or not. I have no problem identifying them. I would say based on our available handwriting evidence, yes, this is the same person."
Rather: "Matley finds the signatures to be some of the most compelling evidence. We talked to him again today by satellite."
Rather to Matley: "Are you surprised that questions come about these? We're not, but I was wondering if you were surprised""
Matley: "I knew going in that this was dynamite one way or the other, and I knew that potentially it was far more potential damage to me professionally than benefit to me, and I knew that. But we seek the truth, that's what we do. You know, you're supposed to put yourself out, to seek the truth and take what comes from it."

Rather: "Robert Strong was an administrative officer for the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam years. He knew Colonel Jerry Killian, the man credited with writing the documents. And paperwork, like these documents, was his specialty. He is standing by his judgment that the documents are real."
Rather to Strong: "When you read through these documents, is there any doubt in your mind that these are genuine?"
Strong, who appeared in the original 60 Minutes story: "Well, they are compatible with the way business was done at that time. They are compatible with the man that I remember Jerry Killian being. I don't see anything in the documents that are discordant with what were the times, what were the situation and what were the people that were involved."
Rather: "Strong says the highly-charged political atmosphere of the Guard at the time was perfectly represented in the newly revealed documents."
Strong alleged: "It verged on outright corruption in terms of the favors that were done, the power that was traded, and it was unconscionable. From a moral and ethical standpoint, it was unconscionable."
Rather: "It is the information in the new documents that is most compelling for people familiar with President Bush's record in the National Guard. Author Jim Moore has written two books critical of President Bush and his service in the Guard.
Moore, via satellite from Austin: "There's no doubt in my mind that these documents are stating accurately what we know took place from the records that are available."
Rather to Moore: "Put it in context and perspective for us. The story and the, what we'll call the counter-attack on the story, where are we right now?"
Moore: "Well, I think what has happened is that some incriminating documents have come out. The White House, you should remember, has not discredited the documents. They're relying on the blogosphere and other people to do that, because the White House probably knows that these documents are in fact real."

Rather, back at anchor desk live, concluded: "The 60 Minutes report was based not solely on the recovered documents, but on a preponderance of evidence, including documents that were provided by what we consider to be solid sources and interviews with former officials of the Texas National Guard. If any definitive evidence to the contrary of our story is found, we will report it. So far there is none."

Rather must have a pretty high standard for "definitive."

For a summary of Rather's Wednesday, September 8 CBS Evening News and 60 Minutes stories which featured the memos which are disputed by everyone except CBS News personnel, check the September 9 CyberAlert item, "Squelched Swifties, But Now Pounce on 'New Questions' About Bush." See: www.mediaresearch.org

For how the networks on Thursday morning and night, as well as Friday morning, handled the CBS memos and Bush's National Guard service in general, see the September 10 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org


# Special treat: Watch the January 25, 1988 Rather confrontation with then-Vice President George H.W. Bush. The MRC's RealPlayer clip of it has somewhat muffled sound since it was already ten years old when we created the RealPlayer file, and the video frame is small due to the earlier RealPlayer software used a few years ago, but you can make it out. Go to: www.mediaresearch.org

Wash Post, NBC, CNN and FNC Feature Experts
Who See Forgeries

Despite Dan Rather's insistence that he's been targeted by "partisan political operatives" (see item #1 above), a lot of mainstream journalists have been willing to challenge CBS. The Washington Post, NBC News and CNN on Friday all featured document experts who doubted the authenticity of the memos touted by CBS News and FNC talked to a contemporary officer in the Texas Air National Guard who identified several factual flaws in the memos, including a misstatement of the deadline for Bush's physical, a reference to a commanding Colonel who had retired a year earlier and an inaccurate acronym.

The Washington Post quoted an expert who maintained that "it would be nearly impossible for all this technology," needed to produce the various typographical and font features employed, "to have existed at that time." NBC's David Gregory disclosed that "NBC News consulted an FBI-trained document expert with three decades of experience who reviewed the documents and suspects they were generated by a modern-day computer."

CNN's Aaron Brown matched Dan Rather's spin as he regretted that since the "dispute" over authenticity of the memos "remains unresolved," the "focus is no longer on what the documents say, but who actually wrote them." CNN's Jeanne Meserve, however, passed along how "forensic document experts contacted by CNN said they would need to see the original documents to reach a definitive conclusion. But one said they were very probably computer generated." She consulted a typewriter expert and a signature expert and both doubted CBS's claims.

A further rundown of those four stories:

-- An excerpt from a September 10 Washington Post story, "Some Question Authenticity of Papers on Bush, by Michael Dobbs and Mike Allen:

William Flynn, a forensic document specialist with 35 years of experience in police crime labs and private practice, said the CBS documents raise suspicions because of their use of proportional spacing techniques. Documents generated by the kind of typewriters that were widely used in 1972 space letters evenly across the page, so that an "I" uses as much space as an "m." In the CBS documents, by contrast, each letter uses a different amount of space.

While IBM had introduced an electric typewriter that used proportional spacing by the early 1970s, it was not widely used in government. In addition, Flynn said, the CBS documents appear to use proportional spacing both across and down the page, a relatively recent innovation. Other anomalies in the documents include the use of the superscripted letters "th" in phrases such as 111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Bush's unit.

"It would be nearly impossible for all this technology to have existed at that time," said Flynn, who runs a document-authentication company in Phoenix.

Other experts largely concurred. Phil Bouffard, a forensic document examiner from Cleveland, said the font used in the CBS documents appeared to be Times Roman, which is widely used by word-processing programs but was not common on typewriters.

END of Excerpt

For the Post article in full: www.washingtonpost.com


-- Friday's NBC Nightly News also featured Flynn in a story by David Gregory, who reported: "Today, CBS News stood by the authenticity of the memos it first obtained, but the question about whether the memos are fakes has sparked accusations of dirty political tricks between Republicans and Democrats. Today, NBC News consulted an FBI-trained document expert with three decades of experience who reviewed the documents and suspects they were generated by a modern-day computer."
William Flynn, forensic document specialist: "I don't believe that anyone in the forensic community that saw this document would have verified it as a genuine document. There are just too many things that are wrong with the document."
Gregory: "For instance, Flynn says, the address of the fighter squadron is perfectly centered, difficult for a typist. Two other red flags. The use of curly apostrophes and a reduced size 'th.' Both markings were rarely available on early '70s typewriters. But tonight, CBS points out that previously released Guard files from that era displayed similar reduced size letters. Authentic or not, Democrats today refused today to back down."
Terry McAuliffe: "It is clear that George Bush has lied to the American public."
Gregory: "Tonight White House officials, who maintain the President fulfilled his duties in the National Guard, cannot say whether the documents are fake, but they argue the suspicions alone have undermined their importance. David Gregory, NBC News, Chillicothe, Ohio."


-- On Friday's NewsNight, which led with the controversy, CNN anchor Aaron Brown matched Dan Rather's spin as he regretted that since the "dispute" over authenticity of the memos "remains unresolved," the "focus is no longer on what the documents say, but who actually wrote them."

Jeanne Meserve noted how CBS and its expert are standing by their story, but she then relayed: "Forensic document experts contacted by CNN said they would need to see the original documents to reach a definitive conclusion. But one said they were very probably computer generated. In fact, using Microsoft Word, CNN was able to manufacture a near-perfect match for one. Gerald Kaplan, an expert on IBM Selectric 'Composer' models, said there was a matching font style in the early '70s, but finds it unlikely that a Lieutenant Colonel would have gone through the laborious process of centering lines the way they are in the documents."
Kaplan, typewriter expert, at an electric typewriter: "It's not easy. In fact, based on the users' guide it's six steps in order to do it."
Meserve: "Superscripting 'th,' as in 187th in Alabama, is also a difficult, multi-step process."
Kaplan: "It just seems unreasonable that he would have one of these machines sitting at his desk."
Meserve: "There is instances of superscripting in verified Bush National Guard records, but it is unclear if those documents were generated on the same typewriter. Also, most '70s typewriters gave each letter the same amount of space. But the CBS documents appear to use proportional spacing which gives a 'W,' let's say, more space than an 'L.' Other experts say this signature on a CBS document is not consistent with other authentic signatures of Jerry Killian's."
Gideon Epstein, forensic expert: "They all have loops, very good loops in them. And they're fairly large. In the Killian that we see on that particular document, we don't see that kind of hand writer characteristics at all."
Meserve: "Friday evening CBS aired an interview with an expert who believes the signatures do match. All the experts agree it is impossible to do a conclusive analysis when documents have been photocopied and faxed and downloaded and CBS acknowledges it is working from copies too, though not as many generations removed from the original."


-- FNC's Major Garrett, on Friday's Special Report with Brit Hume, consulted a pilot who flew with Bush: "Military officials and the pilot who served with the President in the Guard told Fox the documents, which purport to show that Mr. Bush missed a physical and sought to escape other National Guard drills, appear invalid for several reasons. First, they said commanding officers did not type memos instructing pilots to take a flight physical. [over a shot of one memo] This memo, CBS said, was from Lieutenant Colonel Jerry Killian."
Colonel William Campenni, Texas Air National Guard, 1970-71: "The commander does not send, in effect, what amounts to a personal letter to go take your physical under orders."
Garrett: "The memo also requires a flight physical by May 14th. But military rules set a deadline for flight physicals as the last day of the pilot's birth month. In Mr. Bush's case, that would have been July 31st. All pilots had three months before the end of their birth month to obtain their flight physical."
Campenni: "The letter in question said that he must report for his physical by May 14th. Well, that was like one or two weeks into this 12-week window. Nobody would be issuing an order when the person is, has not yet failed to comply."
Garrett: "In a telephone interview with Fox, Gary Killian, the son of the Lieutenant Colonel Killian, said his father's personal habits raise still more doubts."
Gary Killian: "I can tell you that he didn't type memos to himself..."

Later in the newscast, Campenni sat down with anchor Jim Angle. Campenni brought up the August 18, 1973 "CYA" memo (online: www.cbsnews.com ), which referred to how "Staudt has obviously pressured Hodges" and how "Staudt is pushing to sugar coat it." Campenni pointed out that Colonel Walter "Buck" Staudt had retired in 1972, so it would not be logical that Staudt would any longer be in Killian's line of command.

Campenni added, citing the same memo: "The other issue on that particular letter, there's another comment further down, 'OETD,' that's the, I presume, 'OETR.' That's referring to the Officer Efficiency Report...But the term of art was OER. Now it's OES. 'OETR,' I went and looked in the Air Force glossary for that period, that's Officer Education Training Repositories -- totally unrelated to that. So I don't know why someone who would be doing these things all the time would put the wrong acronym in there for that."

[Web Update: Saturday's Dallas Morning News confirmed Campenni's memory about Staudt's retirement. In a September 11 article, "Authenticity of memo to 'sugar coat' Bush record is further questioned," Pete Slover reported: "The man named in a disputed memo as exerting pressure to 'sugar coat' President Bush's military record left the Texas Air National Guard a year and a half before the memo was supposedly written, his own service record shows. An order obtained by The Dallas Morning News shows that Col. Walter 'Buck' Staudt was honorably discharged on March 1, 1972. CBS News reported this week that a memo in which Col. Staudt was described as interfering with officers' negative evaluations of Mr. Bush's service was dated Aug. 18, 1973." For the entire story: www.dallasnews.com]

Earlier in Day Rather Paints Effort to
Suppress Truth-Telling

A CNN camera caught Dan Rather late Friday morning on a Manhattan street outside the headquarters of CBS News as he treated the controversy over his reporting as a battle between the CBS News truth-tellers and politically-motivated hacks for he administration who want to suppress that truth. "The Bush/Cheney campaign took their shots at us," Rather asserted, but "they have not answered the question of, did or did not the President obey a direct order from his military superior while he was a Lieutenant?" Dismissing as a "rumor" reports that CBS News had begun an investigation of the authenticity of the memos, Rather argued: "You can tell who is shell-shocked by the ferocity of the people who are spreading these rumors."

Despite his quest to undermine President Bush's credibility about something which occurred 30 years ago when he showed no interest in pursuing questions about John Kerry's Vietnam record, Rather goofily maintained that "I stand behind my President in a time -- we are in a time of war, and I stand behind my President. There's no joy in reporting such a story. But my job as a journalist is not to be afraid."

Highlights from Rather's street-side session with some reporters, as played back on CNN's 5pm EDT Wolf Blitzer Reports:

Rather: "The story is true. The story is true. And the questions raised in the story are serious and legitimate questions. The questions are: Did Lieutenant Bush refuse a direct order from military superior in a time of war? Question one. Question two: Was he suspended for not -- for failure -- in the words of the document, for failure to perform up to the standards of the U.S. Air Force and the Texas Air National Guard? That's number two. Three: Did he ever take the physical that he was ordered to take by his military superior? Four: If he didn't take that physical, why did he not take that physical?
"I want to emphasize, I stand behind my President in a time -- we are in a time of war, and I stand behind my President. There's no joy in reporting such a story. But my job as a journalist is not to be afraid and when we come with facts and legitimate questions that are supported by witnesses and documents which we believe to be authentic to raise those questions, no matter how unpleasant they are. I do want to underscore with you that the White House, which took their shots at us today, the Bush/Cheney campaign took their shots at us, they have not answered the question of, did or did not the President obey a direct order from his military superior while he was a Lieutenant? Did he or did he -- was he or was he not suspended for failure to meet performance standards of the Air Force and Texas Air National Guard? If he didn't take the physical, why didn't he take the physical?
"Also, one of the questions that is out there is where is the efficiency report every officer -- particularly a flying officer is supposed to have a yearly efficiency report. There is no such report for the last year. I emphasize again, there is no joy in asking these questions, but I think these are legitimate questions. And I stand by our story."

On whether CBS is doing an internal investigation: "You were asking on the basis of a rumor. And I'm trying to say to you that, you know, the Internet is filled with all kinds of rumors. And I like a good rumor as well as the next fellow.
"But it's important to recognize what's a rumor and what's a fact. And sometimes the rumors are true. In this case, they are not. There is no internal investigation. I'm happy in my work, as I hope you can see. I'm proud of our story. I'm proud of CBS News. I'm proud of the team I work with, stand with them completely. I appreciate the sources who took risks to authenticate our story. So, one, there's no internal investigation. Two, somebody may be shell-shocked, but it is not I and it is not anybody at CBS News. Now, you can tell who is shell-shocked by the ferocity of the people who are spreading these rumors, in my judgment."

On whether he might apologize or offer a retraction: "Not even discussed, and nor should it be. I want to make clear to you. I want to make clear to you, if I have not made clear to you, that this story is true and that more important questions than how we got the story, which is where those who don't like the story would like to put the emphasis. The more important question is, what are the answers to the questions raised in this story which I just gave you earlier?"

CNN's transcript of the September 10 Wolf Blitzer Reports: www.cnn.com

-- Brent Baker