Media

More Messages: The Write Stuff

As noted in an August 21 blog, the Rocky Mountain News doesn't seem terribly interested in evenhandedness when it comes to its current coverage of the JonBenet Ramsey case, and suspect John Mark Karr's alleged involvement. Today's edition adds more evidence to support this opinion, thanks to a prominently featured article that fits the description to a "T."

A Lou Kilzer-penned article headlined "Handwriting Expert Points Finger at Karr" leads with quotes from Curt Baggett, who's described as "the Texas-based co-founder of the School of Forensic Document Examination," as well as "a well-known national handwriting expert." According to Baggett (pictured), he's "99.9 percent certain" that Karr penned a ransom note found in the Ramsey home after comparing the handwriting in the document to a sample from a high school yearbook.

Okay, fine, but the main folks backing Baggett in the piece are his son, Bart, and a former student, Peggy Walla -- a pair whose objectivity is certainly open to question. Moreover, lower down in the story, Kilzer speaks with a couple of other experts not so convinced that Karr authored the ransom note. Hawaii's Reed Hayes says, "I would lean more toward him not being the writer," while Virginia's Ronald Morris dismisses conclusions based on examinations of reproductions rather than the actual items in question as "absolute BS."

The report as a whole suggests that handwriting pros are divided about whether the ransom note links Karr to the crime -- yet the doubters make no appearance in either the headline or the deck, and are banished to the second half of the story, which many readers may not reach.

Evenhanded? More like a stacked deck. -- Michael Roberts

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts