Talk:Killian documents controversy/Archive 2

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The term "right-wing" is used a couple times in the "initial scepticism" section. Since that term may habe negative connotations, should we replace it with a less loaded term like "conservative"?

Reproduction using contemporary technology

The "Reproduction using modern technology" section clearly indicates that many find the reproductions via Microsoft Word to be convincingly exact beyond reasonable doubt. That being the case, it is silly to have a sentence in the very next section which states almost the opposite. The article should not contradict itself.

My opinion is that nothing from the "Reproduction using modern technology" section needs to be reiterated in the "Reproduction using contemporary technology" section, but since someone insists on having the issues rehashed there, I have added a reiteration, contrasting the two very different situations.


I've been following the evolution of this page for a few months now, and I'd like to commend the person or persons who reorganized and cleaned it up recently (no time to analyze the History). IMHO, it has achieved near perfection. Kudos.

New articles

Are these articles worth mentioning? I don't know enough about the issue to be able to evaluate their credibility:

The Blue Lemur Claims the White House has just released genuine proportionally spaced documents made on a TANG typewriter in 1971 [1]

David Hailey, PhD Believes the documents were genuine based on wear marks consistent with a typewriter and not a digital document, amongst other things.


The Hailey report clearly belongs. He is director of an academic lab which among other things investigates "authentication problems". Now he may or may not be a good academic, but that's not for us to judge. He clearly meets objective standards for credibility, much more so than a bunch of bloggers. Even if these were written in 1972, it won't make much difference after the CBS admission of gross negligence. Wolfman 15:03, 6 Oct 2004 (UTC)
The ones who finally did disprove the memos were not "a bunch of bloggers", but rather acknowledged experts in their own fields. The bloggers just broke the story and kept covering it, the real analysis was not theirs. Unlike those who proved the Memos were fake, Hailey is NOT an expert in typography, fonts, word processing, typewriters etc, though he is unsurprisingly the holder of a BA in creative writing (see his CV here). Incidentally, the Boston Globe even backed off of Hailey, as it seems he may have modified the docs using Photoshop in order to create his "analysis". See here. It's generally not a good idea to leave traces of forgery on your website when trying to do something like this... Also, he created his comparison on a word processor, so it doesn't quite count as using a 1972-era typewriter to prove the memos being genuine... Impi 15:33, 6 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Two things (a) if someone has criticized his report, it would be fair to note that; but that's no reason to censor a report by a director of an academic media lab. (b) do you have links to the cv's of experts on the other side? i'm curious what the standards for expertise are -- research publications, or what? who gets to decide who's an expert? Wolfman 16:15, 6 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Well, one of the primary debunkers' resume is here, and I say without fear of contradiction that it's far more impressive in this sphere than is Hailey's. That said, I was not intending to use Hailey's inexperience in this field as a reason to exclude this from the article, I was taking issue with your comparison of his credibility (and hence also qualifications) as compared to bloggers, when in reality the comparison is between Hailey and people like Newcomer. However, if you want to take issue with the qualifications of some of the bloggers involved in the story, here's the CV of sorts of Charles Johnson of LittleGreenFootballs. My only intention by writing what I did here was to point out the problems with Hailey's analysis. If it is wished that mention of his report be added to the article, these flaws need to be remembered. Impi 18:08, 6 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Neither of those CV's has anything at all on them about typewriters (that I noticed). Nor does the "far more impressive" resume include any peer-reviewed publications (that I noticed). But, whatever, Hailey is not a typewriter expert either. I think his report should be included. If anyone can link to a debunking of his analysis, that would be fine too. Wolfman 01:46, 7 Oct 2004 (UTC)
The problem with the Hailey report is that it can't see the forest for the trees. He looks at the minutae of deterioration of letterforms but this is meaningless if the original document was not produced in the way supposed. One of the most basic principles of a hypothesis is that if the basic premise is wrong, everything that follows is useless, no matter how well argued. --

Cecropia | Talk 15:39, 6 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I suspect one can find problems with just about any study. To flip around your argument, it's meaningless to argue that the document could have been produced by a MS Word-fax-photocopy combination, if in fact it was actually produced by a typewriter. To me, this report clearly should be included. Wolfman 16:05, 6 Oct 2004 (UTC)
It is fairly well acknowledged the memos are fakes. Of what use is it for Wikipedia to keep alive speculations based on doubtful suppositions. Yeah, I know the guy is a PhD, but that doesn't make his reasoning good. It's quite a stretch logically to assume that the living world came into being by a series of accidents, but do we give honor to Creationism? -- Cecropia | Talk 16:14, 6 Oct 2004 (UTC)
I rather suspect that Wikipedia does report on Creationism.
Let's be clear. I think the memos are fakes. CBS has not acknowledged that the are fakes, but only that their source misled them. They explicitly avoided stating these were fake. This is not about whether we should keep speculation going, speculation is going on anyway. It is not our job to worry about influencing whatever debate remains, but to report on that debate neutrally. Is that not the essence of NPOV? Wolfman 16:18, 6 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Blue Lemur

Notwithstanding that the Lemur is beating a very dead horse, we are noting (if the document is 1971) that a Brigadier General had an Executive Typewriter. Ever hear the term RHIP? However, it goes further to cast doubt on the Killian Memos rather than affirming them. As a typographer whose experience goes back 40 years, I can readily pick out that this is the IBM Executive's serif font, which was a variation of Century Schoolbook, which is much different from Times Roman or Times New Roman. I could go on about the letterforms (Cent SB is very rounded) but for the lazy typographer, just look at the number "9" on the referenced document. Now go into your copy of MS Word and type a "9" in Times New Roman. Easy one. -- Cecropia | Talk 14:17, 6 Oct 2004 (UTC)


Newcomer specifically addresses Hailey in a new writeup. -Joseph (Talk) 11:11, 2004 Oct 7 (UTC)

Pretty complete, and as Wolfman asked, here's an analysis dealing specifically with the typewriter: Selectric analysis. Incidentally, looking at Newcomer's CV, I see many elements which would have been peer-reviewed in any case, being as they are in the software development side, in which other developers usually undertake their own form of peer review. Also, to be declared a Microsoft MVP is nothing to sneeze at. Impi 18:15, 7 Oct 2004 (UTC)

FOX News identified Newcomer as "an expert in computer-based typesetting" here.

And FOX always get it right? Talk:FOX_News#Journalistic_Standards. There is no evidence of that on on his CV. But, I'll note that FOX News calls him that. Wolfman 15:15, 9 Oct 2004 (UTC)

No, FOX doesn't always get it right. But until there's evidence to the contrary, they're entitled to the same presumption of accuracy as other major news organizations. Unless you're prepared to include similar attribution and scare quotes on a consistent basis, your edit violates NPOV.

No, it doesn't violate NPOV. What is the "scare quote"? I used exactly the quote listed by anon above "an expert in computer-based typesetting", is that scary to you? And further, I would be absolutely thrilled to have the expertise of every 'expert' cited. We have no competence in assessing expertise, so of course objective credentials or opinions by news organizations should be cited attesting to that expertise. If you like, we can strike also strike the word 'experts' from the section title. Wolfman 16:55, 9 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Did you read his initial analysis? That's the one that contains his credentials on computer typesetting. It's in the following paragraph:
I am one of the pioneers of electronic typesetting. I was doing work with computer typesetting technology in 1972 (it actually started in late 1969), and I personally created one of the earliest typesetting programs for what later became laser printers, but in 1970 when this work was first done, lasers were not part of the electronic printer technology (my way of expressing this is “I was working with laser printers before they had lasers”, which is only a mild stretch of the truth). We published a paper about our work (graphics, printer hardware, printer software, and typesetting) in one of the important professional journals of the time (D.R. Reddy, W. Broadley, L.D. Erman, R. Johnsson, J. Newcomer, G. Robertson, and J. Wright, "XCRIBL: A Hardcopy Scan Line Graphics System for Document Generation," Information Processing Letters (1972, pp.246-251)). I have been involved in many aspects of computer typography, including computer music typesetting (1987-1990). I have personally created computer fonts, and helped create programs that created computer fonts. At one time in my life, I was a certified Adobe PostScript developer, and could make laser printers practically stand up and tap dance. I have written about Microsoft Windows font technology in a book I co-authored, and taught courses in it. I therefore assert that I am a qualified expert in computer typography. Impi 23:12, 9 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Great, so he's described as an expert by a major news organization in the text and the included link describes his own claims about his expertise in the first paragraph. Seems like pretty fair & NPOV coverage of his expertise to me. Wolfman 02:40, 10 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Wolfman, please explain your "npov" claim justifying your revert of my edit. 07:12, 10 Oct 2004 (UTC)

See also

* Andrew Gilligan, Jayson Blair - Accounts of BBC and New York Times scandals of a similar nature

- I doubt that these scandals were of a similar nature, as neither of them was about forged official documents (as the Yellowcake Forgery was, for example). The intended "similarity" could be that all of these were scandals blamed on perceivedly "liberal" media which the Bush camp would be happy to point at, but I should assume good faith here. Anyway I think that it is hard to make such a list NPOV, so instead of trying to balance it I have removed it altogether. Comments? regards, High on a tree 15:54, 15 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Page title

Not sure why someone wants to undo my page move. Google has tens of thousands MORE page hits for Rathergate than for Killian memos. --Uncle Ed (El Dunce) 15:22, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I'll wait an hour for discussion before doing any more REDIRECTS. No point in working at cross-purposes. --Uncle Ed (El Dunce) 15:32, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Because "Rathergate" is a baited term intended to shape the opinion of the reader. -Joseph (Talk) 15:36, 2004 Oct 27 (UTC)
I concur. Lots of things have had -gate attached to them (Monicagate, etc.) and we don't use those names for article titles regardless of how many google hits it gets. Gamaliel 15:40, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC)
But Rathergate (minor variation: "Memogate") is what these have become known as. It reflects the fact that the story had shifted from what the "memos" alleged to what the memos were: forgeries put forward by a major news organization. In fact, keeping the name "Killian memos" is not longer even appropriate as an article title (as opposed to a redirect) because the memos weren't written by Killian. -- Cecropia | explains it all ® 16:10, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Whether or not Killian actually wrote the memos is irrelevant. After all, Hitler didn't write the Hitler Diaries and the Learned Elders of Zion (if there ever was anyone who actually called themselves that) didn't write the The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion.
"Rathergate" may be in common usage in the right-wing blogosphere, but I've never seen that term used outside of Wikipedia and I doubt it's in common usage in the real world. As an occasional comedic nickname, perhaps, like Monicagate or Shrub or whatever, but like those things hardly appropriate for an article title. This reminds me of the anon who keeps adding a paragraph about "Queen of the Space Unicorns" to the Dan Rather article claiming it is a common nickname for Rather after a couple right-wing blogs started calling him that. Gamaliel 16:29, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC)
"The right-wing blogosphere" LOL!!! Your point about the "Protocols" and "Hitler Diaries" is well-taken but inapplicable. That is what they are called, just as this has come to be called "Rathergate." Google: "Killian-memos" 7,510 hits. "Rathergate" 63,700 hits. -- Cecropia | explains it all ® 17:18, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Listen, I think Dan Rather is a moron, but I think calling it "Rathergate" is inaccurate and loaded. -Joseph (Talk) 18:12, 2004 Oct 27 (UTC)
Point taken. How about "Morongate"? -- Cecropia | explains it all ® 18:31, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC)
"Rathergate" is an utterly absurd title for this article. It is pure POV. The main article should mention the term but put it in context, as a term used by some to express the POV that CBS and specifically Rather committed an impropriety. Of course the particular phrase "Killian memos" doesn't get a lot of hits. Most of the websites or blogs discussing the subject would refer variously to "the CBS memos" or "the memos from Jerry Killian" or "the memos allegedly written by Bush's superior" or "the 60 Minutes memos" or "the documents used by CBS News" or any of a number of other terms. No one of those terms is so obviously right that it should be the article title. We had to settle on one. That no one of the generic terms gets as many hits as the POV term doesn't mean we have to use the POV term. As for "Morongate", I think we should reserve that as the new title for our article about the invasion of Iraq. JamesMLane 18:36, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Time out

At Joseph's request, I'm going to stop editing Rathergate and pages that link to it, for the time being.

But just before I got his message, I began to notice that there are dozens of pages each giving a slightly different spin to the same incident. At some point, it would be nice to consolidate all these and/or come up with an accurate and unbiased way of introducing it.

And I agree that Rathergate might not be the best title for the article. I just think that calling forged memos the "Killian memos" gives the impression that they are authentic - which goes counter to the non-Wikipedian consensus out there in the real world.

How about National Guard memo hoax of 2004? --Uncle Ed (El Dunce) 19:25, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Title vote

OK, I guess it's time to consolidate the arguments. As worked well in other controversies, we have only three choices here, so we can determine sentiment on the current titles. We can then determine sentiment after we've established that basic point.


Killian memos (former title)

  1. Gzornenplatz 22:21, Oct 27, 2004 (UTC)
  2. Psychobabble 23:10, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC) (with a redirect from Rathergate, of course)
  3. Gamaliel 21:44, 29 Oct 2004 (UTC)
  4. Joseph (Talk) 23:06, 2004 Oct 29 (UTC)

Rathergate (current retitling)


CBS Documents Scandal

  1. User:M. E. Smith I agree that "Rathergate" is, for now, still inappropriate, but also agree that current title is too obscure. I suggest this alternative, which excludes the word "forgery" from the title, but includes the word "scandal", which is quite accurate. The word "affair" could be replace "scandal" if someone insists. UPDATE: To reiterate, I'd be quite happy with "CBS Documents Affair".
  2. Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) I'd probably prefer "affair" though.

CBS Document Forgery

  1. 06:13, 29 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Some other title than the above three

Posibilities: CBS-National Guard memo controversy, 60 Minutes forged memos controversy, Dan Rather forged memos controversy, George W. Bush National Guard forged service memos, 2004 U.S. election forged memos controversy, etc.

  1.   --Uncle Ed (El Dunce)
  2. Withrdaw vote for RathergateThis is observably the most common usage at this time. The problem with Killian memos is that this is probably one of the lesser known titles as time goes on. -- Cecropia | explains it all ®
    • I'm agreeing that Rathergate is too aggressive if there are better alternatives, but "Killian memos" doesn't do it. Any of the above titles or some other can be more descriptive without being unnecessarily POV. -- Cecropia | explains it all ® 22:19, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC)


  • As far as I know, CBS has not conceded that the documents were forged, and I think another thesis advanced was that CBS's source had indeed created them in 2004 but had done so by re-creating documents he had seen 30 years earlier. Regardless of what you think of these arguments, I don't think that "hoax" or "forge" belong in the title. (Even Hitler Diaries doesn't have those words in the title.) The title should be neutral. The article should of course give a full report of all the reasons that have been advanced for considering the documents to be forged. I don't think anyone can reasonably contend that the article, as it stood yesterday, was at all deficient in that respect. In this context, the title "Killian memos" will be clear to the reader as meaning memos attributed to Killian. The very first sentence said "allegedly". The second sentence stated that many experts disagreed, and the third sentence reported the CBS climbdown. The whole article gave more attention to the pro-hoax position than to the pro-authenticity position. (I have no reason to think this was bias. My impression is that the article, as it stood yesterday, fairly reflected the overall discussion.) I'll hold off voting to see whether anyone suggests a title that's an improvement on Killian memos.
    • Meanwhile, what to do in the interim? I don't want to get into a revert war but I don't see any basis for saying that an edit that many of us object to has to remain in place while it's discussed and polled. How about we put things back to where they were yesterday, subject to subsequent revision? JamesMLane 20:39, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC)
    • That CBS is trying to salvage a tiny bit of its dignity is a nullity. They've gone about as far as they can without simply saying "yeah, it's an apparent forgery, and we fell for it, accepting them as true from a known Bush-hater and characterizing him as an 'unimpeachable source.' " As to the "reflects a recreation of a (not present) 30-year-old document" thesis, that is being put forward by none of the principals. It is an attempt by partisans to rescue something from this mess. -- Cecropia | explains it all ® 22:27, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC)
  • Regarding retitleing, the title should refer to the affair, not the documents, and "Killian documents" or "Killian memos" is too obscure; nobody is using this terminology. I'm for "CBS Documents Scandal".

I'm bowing out

On second thought, with all the tension over the upcoming election, I don't think I can muster the necessary objectivity that an admin ought to have. So, please ask another admin to move the article back to Killian documents or Killian memos or whatever; and feel free to ignore my vote when determining consensus.

I'd rather err on the side of NOT being forceful enough than take a chance of ruining my near-pristine record as a fair-minded admin. I've managed to tick off more Wikipedians in the last 2 days than in the last few months, so I'm just gonna chill out . . . --Uncle Ed (El Dunce) 21:40, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Any decision on this would be post-election anyway, more than likely. I think we can come up with a better title than either. -- Cecropia | explains it all ® 22:22, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC)

No, I'm back in

A Google search shows significantly more hits for Killian documents than for Killian memos - so I'm going to move the page. --Uncle Ed (El Dunce) 15:11, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)