"He [Bush] got into a 'Champagne' unit of the [Texas] Air [National] Guard because of special privilege granted through his powerful father's influence," Rather said. "This was arranged to insure he wouldn't have to go to Vietnam. Once in, he apparently did OK for awhile but later began refusing orders, slacked on his job and then disappeared for a year. These are facts, and we reported the truth of them."
When CBS broke the story Sept. 8, 2004, on "60 Minutes II," it was immediately attacked by several Web sites, including Free Republic, Little Green Footballs and Power Line, which claimed memos on Bush's absence and refusal to obey orders by Col. Jerry B. Killian were faked. The sites alleged the typography was computer-generated -- an impossibility for the time period. By the time Rather and his team were able to prove the claims were without merit, the damage had been done.
"The ruckus over the Killian memos effectively diverted any and all further journalistic inquiry into Bush's activities; in close-up magic, they call it misdirection. While every other news outlet was preoccupied by the bloggers' sleight of hand about superscripts and proportional spacing, no other reporters picked up the legitimate question of whether Lieutenant Bush had actually fulfilled his military obligations," Rather wrote....
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