« "For this plain reason, man is not a fly"; Pope and Brains | Main | Kerry's Reserve Service »

September 11, 2004

Signature Expert Matley on the CBS Forgeries

CBS did finally come up with the name of an expert it consulted about the forged documents, Marcel Matley-- but just a handwriting expert, not a documents expert! Since rumor has it (that is, the Prowler article says) that CBS knew the signatures were questionable before they ran the show, this isn't very comforting-- presumably this is the expert who earlier, in private, gave them the opposite opinion. Also, he just states his opinion, rather than addressing any of the specific problems.

The signature on the top is from the unquestionably authentic September 6, 1973 disharge papers. That on the bottom is from the CBS Forgeries (note, of course, the computer typography)....

...What's interesting here is that this is a courtroom expert, a hired gun. That's not at all damning in itself. Indeed, it makes him more credible, because this guy has put his future income on the line. He sure looks wrong to me--or, I expect to you, looking at the evidence above. Some features are the same, the general appearance is far different, as are details such as the "i" and the "n". I don't see how Mr. Matley can ever get another gig as an expert witness. If he did, the other side would put these two signatures up on the screen, just like here, and say: "Mr. Matley, is it true that you gave as your professional opinion that these two signatures are by the same person, rather than one being a forgery? Were you at that time acting as a paid consultant to CBS News? Could CBS find any other experts who agreed with you? Didn't some three dozen other experts, volunteers, not paid, come out in public to say that the documents you said were authentic were forgeries?"

So either Mr. Matley is being very noble indeed, as he says below, or we must wonder what motivation he has. Could he be "cashing out" his reputation? I'd like to know how much CBS is paying him. Or could it be blackmail? Or is there really a case for two signatures that look so different to a non-expert being by the same person?

For more commentary, see Justin Katz on September 9.

Here is what Matley says in Dan Rather's defense of the documents:


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 NEWSLY DISCOVERED ONES.

Matley: "WE LOOK 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 SIGNAT'URES TO BE SOME OF THE MOST COMPELLING EVIDENCE...WE TALKED TO HIM AGAIN TODAY BY SATELLITE.

Matley "SINCE IT IS REPRESENTED THAT SOME OF THEM ARE DEFINITELY HIS... THEN WE CAN CONCLUDE THEY ARE HIS SIGNATURES."

Rather: "ARE YOU SURPRISED THAT QUESTIONS COME ABOUT THESE. WE'RE NOT, BUT I WAS WONDERING IF YOU'RE 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 ME. AND I KNEW THAT. BUT WE SEEK THE TRUTH. THAT'S WHAT WE DO. YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO PUT YOURSELF OUT. TO SEEK THE TRUTH AND TAKE WHAT COMES FROM IT."

Update:
National Review quotes Matley saying earlier that it's necessary to look at the original documents, not a photocopy, to tell if a signature is authentic-- yet now he is vouching for a photocopied signature. Of course, it's quite false that you need to look at the original, not a photocopy-- I've noted this stupid comment by a number of experts asked about Rathergate-- but it's still embarassing for Matley.

Update, Sept. 14: Part of getting older is increased experience and wisdom. It is taking me decades to really understand how stupid people can be. It's hard for an economist to understand that people very take out their gun, aim carefully, and shoot themselves in the foot. The Washington Post says this today.

CBS executives have pointed to Matley as their lead expert on whether the memos are genuine, and included him in a "CBS Evening News" defense of the story Friday. Matley said he spent five to eight hours examining the memos. "I knew I could not prove them authentic just from my expertise," he said. "I can't say either way from my expertise, the narrow, narrow little field of my expertise."

In looking at the photocopies, he said, "I really felt we could not definitively say which font this is." But, he said, "I didn't see anything that would definitively tell me these are not authentic."

Matley is backtracking. He's already said the signature is genuine, and he can't retract that, but it looks to as if he's panicking, realizing that his livelihood is crumbling beneath him as the man who authenticated the Rathergate documents-- presumably *not* for a fee equal to the capitalized value of all the future expert witnesss fees he is forfeiting.

Posted by erasmuse at September 11, 2004 03:32 PM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.rasmusen.org/mt-new/mt-tb.cgi/178

Comments

Post a comment




Remember Me?