BOUFFARD DENIES GLOBE ARTICLE MISREPRESENTED HIM. Last Saturday's e-mail exchange between forgery expert Philip Bouffard and a Web site called INDC Journal was one of the weekend's sensations. Linked by everyone from Slate's Mickey Kaus to Glenn "InstaPundit" Reynolds, the exchange was cited by many on blogging's right wing as evidence that the Globe was hopelessly biased in John Kerry's favor.
Bouffard had been quoted in the New York Times and the Washington Post last Friday as saying that it appeared the Killian memos had most likely been produced on a computer - pretty clear evidence of forgery if true. But on Saturday, the Boston Globe quoted him as saying he had since learned there was a possibility such memos could have been typed on an IBM typewriter of early-1970s vintage.
A scoop! But in a subsequent e-mail to INDC Journal, Bouffard said, "What the Boston Globe did now sort of pisses me off, because now I have people calling me and e-mailing me, and calling me names, saying that I changed my mind. I did not change my mind at all!"
Now, though, Dr. Bouffard says his only objection was to the Globe's headline, "Authenticity Backed on Bush Documents." In an e-mail to Media Log, Bouffard says:
As far as the Boston Globe article, I never saw it until recently, and was only made aware of anything by the hate mail that I received. I also had one sender who later called back to apologize after reading the story, and he e-mailed me the story. My position at the time that I talked to the Boston Globe was that I was checking out some new information sent to me that the [Killian] Memos were (or could have been) created on a Selectric Composer. Further research indicates that it could not be, but it needed to be looked into. It appears that the headline for the Globe story was misleading, otherwise this person would not have called back to apologize after reading the article. INDC called for clarification before any of this occurred, asking if I had changed my mind about the authenticity, which I hadn't because, in my mind, I was not certain from the beginning. INDC evidently wrote their story based upon my reaction to what turned out to be the headline for the story.
An e-mailer to INDC Journal had this to say: "I think it is time we designated the Globe as our secondary target in this effort. I hope you tell the good Doctor that he might want to consider each publication before he grants an interview, as there are leftist snakes laying in the grass."
Now Bouffard's clarifying remarks cast this in an entirely different light.
Bill Ardolino, the blogger behind INDC Journal, tells Media Log by e-mail:
Well, that's a bit surprising, as I presented his raw remarks without any alteration. I can somewhat understand why Bouffard would say that part of the story is ok, though, because the body of the Globe's story quoted him with complete accuracy, if possibly selectively (as I highlighted on my blog). Unfortunately, it was the headline that was an outright lie. In no way was the "authenticity backed" by Dr. Bouffard. The fact that that is deceptive is beyond question.
I understand that different tones and presentations can be subjective. That's why my communication with the Globe's [ombudsman] has stressed the outright mischaracterization in the headline, not the body of the article.
Mark Morrow, a deputy managing editor at the Globe, says that Bouffard also spoke with reporter Francie Latour (co-author of the Saturday piece) on Monday night. "He told her that having read the story now, that he has no problem with our story now, that he doesn't feel that he was misquoted in any way," he says. Morrow's remarks are consistent with what Bouffard told me.As for the headline, which did in fact wrongly make it appear that Bouffard had changed his views, Morrow told me, "We might address the headline, which was more emphatic than the story was, and may have been the source of the tenor of the comment on the piece" - reference to the blizzard of criticism to which the Globe has been subjected since the weekend.
This doesn't change the fact that CBS News did an incredibly shoddy job of vetting the authenticity of the four Killian memos. This Washington Post story, by Michael Dobbs and Howard Kurtz, is absolutely devastating to CBS.
But the notion that the Globe did Dr. Bouffard wrong in order to throw a lifeline to Kerry can now be put to rest.