Bill Roper (billroper) wrote,
Bill Roper

My Letter to the Editor of the Chicago Tribune

I sent a Letter to the Editor of the Chicago Tribune today. And because I'm reasonably sure it'll never see the light of day there, I thought I'd tell you about it here. If nothing else, it'll make me feel better.

So I read Clarence Page's column in today's Chicago Tribune, where he comments on the fiasco surrounding the apparently forged Killian memos that CBS used on "60 Minutes". In the middle of the column, he goes off into conspiracy la-la land, starting by saying:

"After all, the first public allegation that CBS News had used forged memos in its report questioning Bush's Air National Guard service did come from a blogger called "Buckhead" on, a freewheeling soapbox for right-wing rants and chat rooms.

Buckhead posted his highly technical explanation, citing proportional spacing and font styles, within a remarkable four hours after CBS' airtime."

Well, I'd never read the original post, so I figured I'd go look and see if there was any truth to the suggestion that the explanation was "highly technical". A bit of searching turned it up in the 47th response to this post. I'll quote it for you below:

"Howlin, every single one of these memos to file is in a proportionally spaced font, probably Palatino or Times New Roman.

In 1972 people used typewriters for this sort of thing, and typewriters used monospaced fonts.

The use of proportionally spaced fonts did not come into common use for office memos until the introduction of laser printers, word processing software, and personal computers. They were not widespread until the mid to late 90's. Before then, you needed typesetting equipment, and that wasn't used for personal memos to file. Even the Wang systems that were dominant in the mid 80's used monospaced fonts.

I am saying these documents are forgeries, run through a copier for 15 generations to make them look old.

This should be pursued aggressively."

Now, Buckhead's not quite right on this, since the IBM Executive did support proportionally spaced fonts, although apparently nothing like we see in the forged memos. (And why did I know this? Because I used one once, in high school as I recall, when I was typing up masters for the school's literary magazine.) But to refer to the above as a "highly technical" explanation is absurd, since any ninny who's worked with fonts -- like say someone who writes a column for a newspaper -- ought to have a clue about the difference between proportional and monospaced fonts.

But, then again, Clarence Page is not just any ninny.

So I wrote up the following Letter to the Editor of the Chicago Tribune, which will, of course, be sent to the electronic bit bucket:

I read Clarence Page's column (9/22) on the Rather/Killian memos where he asserts that "Buckhead posted his highly technical explanation, citing proportional spacing and font styles". In the spirit of the admonition that he quotes later, "If your mother says she loves you, check it out," I did so, by going to the Free Republic website and reading Buckhead's original post. If Mr. Page considers this a highly technical explanation, then he's in serious need of technical re-education, as what Buckhead states is immediately obvious to anyone who used a typewriter in the 1970s. I don't blame Buckhead for refusing interviews in the face of this sort of ignorance and efforts to paint the source of the memos as being some vast right-wing conspiracy.

Mr. Page should be ashamed of himself.

I feel better now.
Tags: musings, politics

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