Typography and Democracy

Although I am not a typographer by trade I have a fair grasp of the basics and a professional curiosity that left me rather interested in the recent CBS News scandal. For details on the controversy surrounding a recent memo that was presented by Dan Rather as proof of President Bush’s Vietnam era service visit http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/09/06/politics/main641481.shtml.

Part of the reason this story is so compelling is that all it took was a couple of people with a relatively obscure knowledge of typography to catch the inconsistencies in the memo. CBS News, a monolithic news organization, was taken to task within hours on blogs such as http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/007760.php and that attention was enough to draw real scrutiny from others across the nation.

Based on what I’ve seen and heard I’m reasonably convinced that the memo is fake. However, I think the more important point to be taken away is that the Internet and blogging is making a real impact on the way information spreads through our society. And since the FCC seems hell bent on helping to consolidate control of traditional media outlets I say this is a really positive development for free press and democracy.

Kevin Hall
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