Was CBS News Duped?

This is a partial transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume," Sept. 9, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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BRIT HUME, HOST: Some newly reported documents related to President Bush's National Guard (search) service have made headlines. But have they told us anything we hadn't known before? And what about the documents themselves?

For answers, we turn to Byron York, White House correspondent of National Review, who has been looking into both questions.

Byron, welcome.


HUME: Let's assume for a moment that the document that is came out this week, the CBS documents and the ones that came out earlier pursuant to an A.P. lawsuit are all authentic and on the up and up. What do we now know from them that we didn't know before?

YORK: The only real nugget of news in the new documents revealed in CBS is that according to these document, George Bush was ordered to appear for a physical in 1972. He didn't appear and his flight certification was later removed. We knew the flight certification was removed. We knew he didn't fly anymore.

HUME: Did we know he did not have a physical at that time?

YORK: We did know that he did not have a physical. So the only difference is...

HUME: So what we know is we now know he had been ordered by a superior officer.

YORK: Specifically ordered. So that would mean that he specifically ignored or disobeyed.

HUME: Disobeyed an order.

YORK: Sure.

HUME: Not an unserious thing.

YORK: Not an unserious thing.

HUME: Now, earlier it had been reported by The Boston Globe that during the period when he was up in Massachusetts going Harvard Business School, that there was a Guard requirement up in that area that he had not met and had never met any punishment. Does that turn out...

YORK: That does not seem to be correct because George Bush actually asked to be discharged early from the Air National Guard so that he could go to Harvard Business School. And he was, in fact, given an honorable discharge. So at that point...

HUME: Early enough to cover the period in question?

YORK: Exactly. So the honorable discharge, I think, ended his obligations to further service in the Guard?

HUME: So this story in the Globe, at least this pertains to his service in that area...

YORK: That particular...

HUME: That charge appears to be...

YORK: That particular portion of it, I don't think is correct.

HUME: Appears to be off base.

Now, let's go back to the CBS documents. Jim Angle mentioned that there were some things about the way the documents appeared that made them seem odd. What about that?

YORK: There are some things that seem odd.

HUME: First of all, what are the documents?

YORK: The documents are four documents written by a Bush's superior officer at the Texas Air National Guard Base in Houston. And three of them are actual memos to the file. They're not thing that this officer actually wrote or memos that he sent...

HUME: That he sent to anybody. Right.

YORK: They're memos that he wrote to the file in which he expressed reservations about George W. Bush either asking for special treatment to be able to go to Alabama, or to get around his physical, things like that. Things that are not in the official record that -- you may remember the White House released a very thick stack of documents in February, and they're not in there.

And as a matter of fact, there's almost kind of a Jekyl and Hyde personality when you look at this officer who's giving Bush glowing reports and approving all sorts of things in the official documents. And according to these new CBS documents, he's writing dubious and critical things in his memos to the file.

HUME: Now, what about the way the documents look though, that seems have come into question?

YORK: Well, the thing that has gotten people -- there's been a huge traffic about this today on the Internet. The thing that has people doubting is that the -- it -- the spacing of some of the letters in the documents. And in particular, a couple of them refer to the 111-group.

HUME: Right.

YORK: Or the 187-group.

HUME: Right.

YORK: And they used -- the t-h in it is in a smaller script and it's raised.

HUME: That's called superscript, right? Jim Angle mentioned this earlier, right?

YORK: Exactly. And this is something that everyone says was just not done on typewriters.

HUME: In other words, you couldn't get that little font that would appear halfway up into the line above, or partly up into the line above on a 1972 typewriter.

YORK: That's correct. It's done everyday on word processors today. But not on typewriters...

HUME: I'm going to tell you also that a producer here at FOX News today sat down with Microsoft word processing software on a computer. And typed out one of these memos just sort of the way it might look today. And the line spacing came out exactly the same. There were no words carried over or hyphenated in any of these documents. And it came out so you could put the document one on top of the other and they perfectly traced, which seems peculiar.

YORK: It does. Now, I will tell you today I spoke to one really nationally recognized...

HUME: What about the "CYA" business that's on the screen?

YORK: This is -- you can just see the typescript here. And there have been questions about whether this is proportional fonting, as opposed -- which is something that most typewriters didn't do in the early 1970s. Although some did. And I will tell you I spoke to a nationally recognized expert today. I'm not going to use his name because you can't make a real professional assessment on something printed out from the Internet. And he said he thought this was probably produced on a typewriter. But on the other hand, other experts have thought otherwise.

HUME: But what about the super -- what did he say about the superscript?

YORK: He could not explain the superscript. And that was the one thing he said I'm completely baffled by that, because he was not aware of any typewriter...

HUME: Well, obviously CBS will probably want to have something to say. Have you tried to reach CBS today?

YORK: I did try to reach CBS on a number of occasions. And they haven't returned my phone calls today. I'm not aware if they've made any other public statements about this today.

HUME: Well, there may well be an explanation. Which we'll all await with interest.

YORK: Yes.

HUME: Byron York, always good to have you.

YORK: Thank you.

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