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New Brief Lebanon Media Notes:

Little Green Footballs reports that photographer Bryan Denton was an eyewitness in Lebanon to, in Denton's words, "the daily practice of directed shots, one case where a group of wire photogs were choreographing the unearthing of bodies, directing emergency workers here and there, asking them to position bodies just so, even remove bodies that have already been put in graves so that they can photograph them in peoples arms."

And Tim Rutten, media columnist for the L.A. Times, thinks that the MSM is not paying sufficient attention to bloggers' revelations that many photos from Lebanon were digitally manipulated, staged, posed, captioned incorrectly, or were otherwise fraudulent. He concludes:

That brings us to the most troubling of the possible explanations for these fraudulent photos, which is that some of the photojournalists involved are either intimidated by or sympathetic to the Hezbollah terrorists. It's a possibility fraught with harsh implications, but it needs to be examined thoroughly and openly. [Charles] Johnson [of LGF] and his colleagues have done the serious news media a service. Failure to follow up on it would be worse than churlish; it would be irresponsible.

UPDATE: Washington Post photographer Michael Robinson-Chavez, who was there, says of Qana: "Nothing was set up. There was no way photos could have been altered with a dozen photographers there." Yet we have video of "Green Helmet" apparently directing photographers and rescue workers, an AP report (in a puff piece) of Green Helmet holding up a dead body for the cameras, and some pretty persuasive (warning: and gory) circumstantial evidence from EU Referendum. Even the Post ombudsman thinks that one photo from Reuters looks staged. I guess it depends on what Robinson Chavez means by "set up", and also exactly where he was and how much of everything he witnessed (given that only a few images out of hundreds, maybe thousands, shot at Qana are at issue).

[UPDATE: A reader points out that, read in context, Robinson-Chavez may only be denying that the children were trucked in from somewhere else, or that some of the "dead" bodies really weren't, both allegations circulating on the internet. The full quote is "Everyone was dead, many of them children. Nothing was set up. There was no way photos could have been altered with a dozen photographers there." As the reader points out, this falls rather short of a direct denial of "staging.")

Meanwhile, Robinson-Chavez "explained why readers don't see pictures of suspected Hezbollah guerrillas, whose stronghold is southern Lebanon. They are recognizable because they're young and bearded and have walkie-talkies — and don't want to be photographed. He said they intentionally are not armed when photographers are around. He was detained by several one day and then released." Personally, if I were "detained" by an anti-American terrorist group, I'd be scared out of my wits, and would go out of my way not to make nice to that group so long as I was in the territory they controlled. And that would include what photos and reporting I chose to send to my bosses back in the U.S.

Human, not just Jewish, rights (mail):
I commend the Lebanese for communicating the tragedy which is the murder of innocent civilians. There is nothing wrong with directing photographers to properly shine a light on genocide.
8.12.2006 11:44pm
GlennB (mail):
Little Green Footballs? Are you serious?
8.12.2006 11:54pm
PaulV (mail):
Lies are lies. Dishonesty is dishonesty. Terrorist who hide behind children when launching missles want those children to die along with Israeli children. War criminals like those Islamic terrorist should be exposed and subject to war crime tribunals. No excuses for those who try to hide the truth.
8.13.2006 12:17am
Elias:
I totally agree with the first commenter, Human, not just Jewish, rights. Oh, except:

a) I don't commend the Lebanese. (They enable terrorists.)

b) The civilian deaths in Lebanon aren't "murder."

c) Nor, a fortiori, do the deaths constitute "genocide."

d) The photographers weren't "properly" reporting. That's, you know, the point that Professor Bernstein and Charles Johnson have been making.
8.13.2006 12:31am
Dustin (mail):
Human, not Jewish rights,

How do you know that these people were innocent? That they were killed by Israel? Because of the news? Do you know what circular reasoning is?

And why do you conflate Israeli with Jewish?

I keep hearing this line chanted in unison, that innocents are being killed and that's all that matters, but few mention that it is the Hiz'b Allah who are killing them by forcing them into human shield status. Many of these 'civilians' were Hiz'b Allah, in fact.

Israel was attacked, unprovoked, from a foreign land. That nation must stop the rockets and the kidnappings. That is any sovereign nation's duty. Are Israel's borders not legitimate to you? Less or more legit than Germany's or France's or South Korea's? In what way is Israel different in that it cannot defend it's own lands and be allowed to take land in legitimate wars? Or even illegit ones. God knows most other nations make their borders that way.

Why in the hell does Israel get treated so differently? While you commend propogandists for lying about innocent casualties because it makes Israel look bad, I am commending Israel for taking some measures to show that it will do what it must in the face of horrible evil.

The ideas of Israel: to survive, are superior to the ideas of the Islamists: to kill.
8.13.2006 12:47am
Humble Law Student (mail):
Oh God, "Human" has returned. Do we really have to put up with his nonsense? For those of you who don't know, his statement is par for the course. I recommend that if people don't respond to him - he'll die the proverbial slow and lonely death.
8.13.2006 12:55am
Humble Law Student (mail):
Very good article by Tim Rutton. Is anyone familiar with his other work?
8.13.2006 12:56am
Speaking the Obvious:
Justin asks:

"And why do you conflate Israeli with Jewish? "

This is quite ironic, and shows the chickens coming home to roost. It has been commonplace for many years now--well documented by Norman Finkelstein, for example--for many groups who support unpopular Israeli tactics in the Occupied Territories to claim any criticism of Israel is evidence of--constitutes--anti-semiticism. And thereby, the outrageous actions of Israel, be it torture of detainees or flagrantly disproportionate killing of civilians, has made it easier for real anti-semites to blame "Jews" rather than "Zionists" or "Israelis" for such actions. Can't say that was a difficult one to predict. But supporters of Israel can't have it both ways: If it is anti-semitic to criticize Israel, then it should not be suprising that Israeli gets conflated with Jewish.

Let me also mention I found Tim Rutton's comment quite ironic: "That brings us to the most troubling of the possible explanations for these fraudulent photos, which is that some of the photojournalists involved are either intimidated by or sympathetic to the Hezbollah terrorists." Because certainly it is impossible to find American journalists who are ever sympathetic to or intimidated by (for fear of being called anti-semitic) Israelis...the daily and palpable imbalance of Fox News comes to mind.
8.13.2006 12:58am
Humble Law Student (mail):
Speaking the Obvious,

Most people would find it morally laudable to be sympathetic to the Israel, and not to Hezbollah. But hey, in your world, the terrorists are the heroes. Please correct me if I am wrong.
8.13.2006 1:10am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Truly you have a dizzying intellect, StO.
8.13.2006 1:13am
Kevin L. Connors (mail) (www):
We might also point to this failing of Human's bit of trollery: It is Hezbollah that is controlling the information here, not "the Lebanese." Some of the members may be Lebanese, but it makes no difference, their first allegiance is to Hezbollah, not the nation or people of Lebanon.
8.13.2006 1:29am
fishbane (mail):
"Speaking the Obvious" appears to live on a different planet that looks very similar to ours, but has notable diferences. Jews seen to behave differently, for a starter. The Arabs seem to work differently on that planet, too, but I don't know enough about where (s)he lives to comment more about that. In any case, while interesting, I don't find it useful commentary about the planet that I happen to inhabit.
8.13.2006 2:17am
jimsmith (mail) (www):
Seriously, I don't believe it could have been any other way. Just look at his face!
-------------------
Art-Hammer.com (http://www.art-hammer.com) - Have Real Artists Make Your Canvas
Gamer Fan (http://www.gamerfan.com) - You are the player
8.13.2006 2:22am
Dustin (mail):
Sorry for feeding a troll, I am pretty bad about that.

Speaking the Obvious, how is my question "chickens coming home to roost?"

When people treat Israel differently than other nations, sometimes peolpe suspect racism. When people conflate Jewish to Israel, therefore doing things in reverse, it's not chickens coming home to roost... it's just the same problem as before.

It's not like any defense against criticism of Israel is called antisemetic. It's just the ones that seem so out of the blue and irrationally unfair that, in saerching for a motivator, it is hard not to consider racism (after all, Jews are hated so often by elites).
8.13.2006 2:49am
Erasmussimo:
Mr. Bernstein, I'll chide you for heavy reliance on insinuation, and suggest that you follow the old rule, "Just the facts, ma'am." Your comment that

many photos from Lebanon were digitally manipulated, staged, posed, captioned incorrectly, or were otherwise fraudulent.

conflates 'staged' and 'posed' with 'fraudulent'. Let's be more precise here! I have previously pointed out that 'staged' does not equate to 'fraudulent'.

Let us remember, too, that all photography is fundamentally an appeal to the emotions, not the intellect. There is simply no way that photojournalism can ever present us with a truly objective representation of reality. Ultimately, photojournalism is much more art than reporting, and as with all art, de gustibus non est disputandem. Why bellyache over it? The photographers will always inundate us with emotionally charged images. The solution here is Jeffersonian: don't try to restrict the flow of information, open it up as much as possible. Where are the Fox News people with photographs of Hezbollah fighters doing all those evil things they are said to do? I would hope that we could see some sort of intrepid photographers willing to produce the goods.
8.13.2006 3:05am
lemonade (mail):
Photographers taking pictures of Hezbollah missile sites have been threatened with death. Perhaps that explains the relative lack of coverage.
8.13.2006 3:22am
Speaking the Obvious:
Humble Law Student says:

"Most people would find it morally laudable to be sympathetic to the [sic] Israel, and not to Hezbollah. But hey, in your world, the terrorists are the heroes. Please correct me if I am wrong."

All right. You are wrong. You have much, it seems, to be humble about. For example, although studies of anti-semitism demonstrate a world-wide decrease in anti-semitism over the last several decades, most people in the world do not find Israel morally laudable. Looking at UN votes of 160+ to 2 should tell you that, as should even a brief perusal of non-american news sources. But if you keep insisting that any criticism of Israel, independent of the justice of the criticism, constitutes anti-semitism, you will not only see anti-semitism everywhere (for criticism of Israel is rampant and world-wide, despite your silly claim that "Most people would find it morally laudable to be sympathetic to the [sic] Israel"), you will also increase, tragically, real anti-semitism. As a Jew, I find this tragic. As an idiot, the tragedy, and your responsibility, likely escapes you.

And, by the way, your belief that criticism of Israel constitutes support of Hizbollah or terrorists suggests your level of understanding of political theory is derived from playing Risk. How good of you, in time of war, to support the President's view one is either "with us or against us". Is this the level of sophistication taught in law school these days?

As for Fishbane, your planetary travel hypotheses may help you ignore the obvious, but it won't change the facts.

And Justin, if you don't understand about chickens coming home to roost, I can only suggest you read more carefully.
8.13.2006 4:27am
BGates (mail) (www):
The solution here is Jeffersonian: don't try to restrict the flow of information, open it up as much as possible. Where are the Fox News people with photographs of Hezbollah fighters doing all those evil things they are said to do?

What fraction of the sentence "I'm attempting a Jeffersonian solution to the lack of information flow, old chap" would you get out of your mouth before the first Hezbollah thug shot you?
8.13.2006 7:01am
Jeremy Nimmo (mail):
Yes, GlennB, surprisingly enough, LGF tends to agreggate interesting stories. And D.B. tends to give them credit for bringing them to his attention, being a contributor to an 'intellectually honest' weblog rather than an unbalanced moral relativist who finds any excuse he can to blame Israel, for example.
8.13.2006 7:39am
Jeremy Nimmo (mail):
I look forward to some 'obvious' speak on how people who don't mind black people, as long as they don't move into their neighbourhood are a good point to calibrate your moral compass by.
8.13.2006 7:44am
Norma (mail) (www):
There is a lack of journalistic integrity here. It's like the big newspapers can print whatever they want. And big pharam can deceive their patients which resulted in Vioxx Lawsuit.
8.13.2006 8:47am
Ron Hardin (mail) (www):
The dozens of photographers aren't competing in hard news but in soap opera money shots.

There's no money in reporting on the staging of soap opera. Everybody who's into it knows it's staged. They just like to empathize. It's entertainment to them.

And then their eyes are sold to newscast advertisers.

Terrorists are not only not above playing into that need fo newscasters, they plan on it.

Israel is above it, as are most nations.

Ridicule the audience for this crap.
8.13.2006 9:03am
spider:
Humble Law Student,
If some or many journalists are sympathetic to Hezballah, and they are allowing their biases to pervade their coverage (as we've seen with some of the dodgy photos), that is bad. But how is it any better for journalists to be sympathetic to Israel? The potential for bias is the same on that side too. Last I checked, a journalist's job is to present the facts, as best as he can.
8.13.2006 9:29am
johnt (mail):
speaking the obvious , After the mandatory mention of Fox News who else comes to mind? Re. your 11:58 post. I ask this because Fox News is always coming to the minds of liberals whereas their late &unlamented monopoly of news always seems to slip those same minds. I ask also because after the never ending citations of Fox the list of like minded news outlets seems to fade away like a breeze. Is there a secret yearning for the good old days of CBS, NBC, ABC, &CNN? Would it even be possible that you and other liberals are ambiguous on the stated holies of free speech, open debate, diversity, access to different opinions, and all that other now apparent crap that has been mouthed for the past fifty years or so?
I may have read you wrong &and open to correction or amplification.
8.13.2006 9:49am
Perry (mail):
Where are the Fox News people with photographs of Hezbollah fighters doing all those evil things they are said to do? I would hope that we could see some sort of intrepid photographers willing to produce the goods.

Since you seem to think that creative photo manipulation in service of a "larger truth" is OK - then why not photoshop some stock photos of Hezbollah gunners into a Tyre suburb or a Bint Jbeil marketplace instead?
8.13.2006 10:30am
Humble Law Student (mail):
spider,
Sympathy in my mind is a form of bias. Any good reporter should be able to overcome his or her own biases to report the truth (or as accurately to it as one can get). Having said that, a bias in favor of Hezbollah indicates to me a fundamental moral failing in the individual, causing me to be extremely skeptical of anything they write/say.

To sum up, so, while yes, I do prefer journalists to present the straight facts, unfortunately everyone has a bias, and I prefer that bias to be in favor of Israel than against it, because I someone biased in favor of Hezbollah as morally deficient.
8.13.2006 10:44am
Humble Law Student (mail):
because I view* someone biased in favor
8.13.2006 10:44am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
"I commend the Lebanese for communicating the tragedy which is the murder of innocent civilians. There is nothing wrong with directing photographers to properly shine a light on genocide."
If this were true, and if done accurately, with real, unstaged, unfaked, photos, then this would be fine with me.

But of course, there is no genocide going on. Hezzbollah is the party that is firing misssle into Isreal from positions intentionally surrounded by civilians, and bears, the majority, if not most, of the responsibility for the collateral damage to Lebanonese civilians that results.

And, the light that is being shined by Hezzbollah through these faked and staged images is closer to a propogranda movie than anything else. The primary thing it illustrates is their propoganda, and not the alleged genocide that is alleged.

Besides, when is a death toll of most likely less than a thousand, many of whom are likely Hezzbollah, a genocide anyway? - we usually restrict this to death tolls at least a hundred, if not a thousand, times larger.
8.13.2006 10:47am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
LGF is not neutral, but in situations like this, is is effective. The site played a big part in showing that Dan Rather put faked documents on the air, and that, at a minimum, that at least two of the Reuters photos were "photoshopped". I challenge any of its detractors to rebut those LGF triumphs. I also find a lot of the other stuff it has found in the last couple of weeks fairly credible - the Green Helmet guy comes to mind right now. (As a note, while they may not actually find some of this stuff first, they are, IMHO, the best single site I have found for keeping abrest of it).

I will note that I only follow the site during one of these exposes. Most of the time the invective there is as jarring as that found at Kos or DU. And, yes, it is prone to right wing conspiracies, just as outlandish as those seen on the left.
8.13.2006 11:00am
Humble Law Student (mail):
Speaking the Obvious,

You wrote,

"All right. You are wrong. You have much, it seems, to be humble about. For example, although studies of anti-semitism demonstrate a world-wide decrease in anti-semitism over the last several decades, most people in the world do not find Israel morally laudable. Looking at UN votes of 160+ to 2 should tell you that, as should even a brief perusal of non-american news sources.

- Your rebuttal does nothing to counter my point. All of your evidence is about opinions of Israel, not perceptions of Israel in comparison to Hezbollah. While you may have evidence to counter my claim, you didn't present it. Try arguing against me, rather than against points I'm not making.
1. Forgive me if I don't find votes by the general assembly to carry much moral authority. Any organization that has Iran as the VP on the the WMD non-proliferation committee and Syria (or was it Libya) on the Human Rights Committee abrogates any moral authority it could once lay claim to.
2. There are few places in the world where Jews do not suffer attacks. Forgive me if I'm skeptical of your "studies." While, Jews may not face "showers" and "ovens" anymore, anti-Semetism is alive and well throughout the world. You see the low polling of Israel as indicating them not being morally laudable. I see it as part of a trend of thousands of years that constantly heaps scorn and hatred on them.
3. But u're right, when I said "most people" I should have clarified. I was referring to the US (though I failed to make it clear).
4. Despite, #3, I would find it very disturbing if most people in the world preferred Hezbollah to Israel (surely many in the Arab states do, but worldwide I doubt it, though I could be wrong). If most people do, it only shows how utterly morally bankrupt they are.


"But if you keep insisting that any criticism of Israel, independent of the justice of the criticism, constitutes anti-semitism, you will not only see anti-semitism everywhere (for criticism of Israel is rampant and world-wide, despite your silly claim that "Most people would find it morally laudable to be sympathetic to the [sic] Israel"), you will also increase, tragically, real anti-semitism"

I'd be careful calling me an idiot, when it seems you can't even comprehend what I'm arguing. I never stated or implied that any criticism of Israel constituted anti-Semetism. Try a little humble pie - it will go a long way with you.


And, by the way, your belief that criticism of Israel constitutes support of Hizbollah or terrorists suggests your level of understanding of political theory is derived from playing Risk. How good of you, in time of war, to support the President's view one is either "with us or against us". Is this the level of sophistication taught in law school these days?

1. Once again, I never stated or implied that any criticism of Israel is automatic support for Hezbollah or terrorists. You are just making things up. Helpful hint: If you want to argue, try arguing on point.
2. Forgive me if I find that certain sides can be "right" and some can be "wrong." My understanding of the rightness of the Israeli cause does not mean I won't condemn them for wrongful actions however. In WW2, my "simplistic" "Risk" mentality would have lead me to support the Allied cause. Just as I would have support it as the "right cause," it doesn't mean I would have thought every action of theirs was correct, as I dont with Israel. But, I still would have believed in the overall moral rightness of their cause (despite particular failings) in comparison to the Axis. Forgive me if my "law school training" enables me to understand that.
8.13.2006 11:10am
noahpraetorius (mail):
It is sort of telling I think that LGF first debunked the rather obvious "cloned" smoke photo and not some site from the "reality based community". I leave to the reader what conclusion that might be.
8.13.2006 11:20am
spider:
I literally feel sick to my stomach when I read the comments on a typical LGF thread. (I only visit that site every couple months, out of morbid curiosity.)

To Humble Law Student: Hezballah has certainly done some nasty stuff, and their leader is odious, so I have no sympathy for them. Viewing the situation in the light most favorable to them, I can hardly figure out what their cause is, besides arrogating power and glory within Lebanon. But I don't see the Israelis as a paragon of virtue. It's been well documented how they've been abusing human rights left, right, and center, at least in the Palestinian territories, and probably in the current Lebanon war as well. I'm sure you'll disagree with me about Israel, but anyway, as a journalist in the region, my gut feel would probably be "Both sides here are psychotic."
8.13.2006 11:20am
Humble Law Student (mail):
spider,

I don't think any nation, including the US, is a paragon of virtue. That said, I still think there are great differences among nations and also between a nation like Israel and a nonstate actor like Hezbollah.

You may not agree with this analogy (and there are many, important differences between the situations), but let me try anways. Allied soldiers killed hundreds if not thousands of surrendering or surrendered Germans during WW2. The Allies purposefully firebombed Dresden and other German cities to inflict maximum causalties on civilian morale (through mass slaughter). This was despite the fact that the war was practically over, and you didn't have the same concerns over a million causalties to invade Germany, like the fears over an invasion of Japan. Nevertheless, the Allies were the morally right cause, despite their many, enormous faults.
8.13.2006 11:27am
Humble Law Student (mail):
P.S. I'm not trying to get into an indepth discussion of comparisons of today to WW2. Just take the analogy for what its worth.
8.13.2006 11:28am
noahpraetorius (mail):
spider, none are so blind as those who will not see...HzB organizes its activities in Lebanon so as to maintain a power base with the ultimate intent of destroying Israel. I thought everyone knew that. Guess not.
8.13.2006 11:29am
MnZ (mail):
Michael Robinson-Chavez would have incentive to lie. If he admits that he was complicit in Hezbollah's propoganda efforts, his reputation and career would be greatly damaged.
8.13.2006 11:33am
Erasmussimo:
Bruce Hayden writes, The site played a big part in showing that Dan Rather put faked documents on the air, and that, at a minimum, that at least two of the Reuters photos were "photoshopped". I challenge any of its detractors to rebut those LGF triumphs.

As I recall, the Dan Rather documents were never proven to be fraudulent; the skeptics were able to raise substantial questions about them, and the damning point was that CBS was unable to properly establish their provenance. In other words, it is not that the documents were proven to be fraudulent, but rather than CBS was unable to prove that they weren't fraudulent. It remains plausible that the documents were in fact truthful.
8.13.2006 11:55am
Mitchell Freedman (mail) (www):
Holding up a dead body for a photographer to get a better view is not staging. On the other hand, what the Reuters free lancer did in changing a photograph was dishonest (just as the GOP's web site was dishonest the other day when shading Howard Dean's face to make him appear like he was Hitler; though the Reuters free lancer's conduct was far more reprehensible).

I find, however, that those who desparately want to ignore the fact that plenty of civilians on the Lebanese side of the border have been killed by Israeli gunfire want to "stage" things, too--or really, change the "narrative" by jumping to too many conclusions in light of the Reuters photo scandal.

Would we say, for example, that because the photographer who took the Iwo Jima photo had the soldiers re-enact what they did in order to take his photograph mean that the US was wrong to fight Japan in World War II? I would hope the answer to that question is, "Of course not."

Integrity among photographers in war is vital. But that doesn't really change the basic facts on the ground as to what is happening among Lebanese, Hezbollah and Israel.
8.13.2006 12:00pm
Erasmussimo:
Mitchell, I'd like to nitpick your comment about the Republican website's treatment of Howard Dean. I see that as an artistic use of imagery to communicate a message. It is obvious that they are not implying that Howard Dean is actually Hitler in disguise. Instead, they are making a political insinuation. Much as I find that insinuation unfair and hyperbolic, I can't fault it for dishonesty.

I will also offer my compliments for your reminding us that the famous Iwo Jima photograph was staged. I would hope that those here who condemn all staged photographs from Lebanon will condemn just as vociferously this classic old photo.
8.13.2006 12:08pm
AnandaG:
It remains plausible that the documents were in fact truthful.

No one who followed the affair even in passing can believe this. The fact that CBS was unable to demonstrate their veracity does not render their truthfulness "plausible".
8.13.2006 12:18pm
noahpraetorius (mail):
Erassmusimo, I believe you can still see the LGF overlay of the purported authentic CBS document with the same content typed in MS Word at the LGF website. Is it plausible that the content typed with the default settings just so happened to exactly mimic what a typist supposedly typed over 30 years ago? Anyone that has used a manual typewriter would think that "possibility" ludicrous if only because there are no default settings on a manual typewriter. The CBS report does not even address this issue.

It is absolutely certain that the document in question is not authentic. Some take the "fake but accurate" route. I believe an entire book would be required to fully address that issue, but the CBS report is a good start. Have at it.
8.13.2006 12:39pm
Truth Seeker:
Erassmusimo, it's called "beyond a resonable doubt." If all evidence shows that something is an obvious fake, and nothing indicates that it is real, then you don't need a video of the guy maikg the fake to "prove" it. Common sense vs wishful fantasy.
8.13.2006 12:44pm
Kevin L. Connors (mail) (www):
Again Erasmussimo, your logic is self-contradictory. You ask David for "just the facts," and then go on to defend photojournalists for effectively injecting their opinion into their work, to create a better representation of the facts.

The only way you can achieve logical continuity here is to say that we all should, from the get-go, view MSM photographs with the same jaundiced eye with which we might read an op-ed. Thus, wouldn't you also say that all those MSM photographs should have a disclaimer in the caption, to warn those less sophisticated?
8.13.2006 12:50pm
Stephen M (Ethesis) (mail) (www):
Having had to deal with photojournalists before, who wanted a group of us to take off stacking sand bags where they were needed to pose for better shots that were more artistic, the practice of trying to get better theater out of film is pretty much standard. You will see it all the time.

BTW, on a related theme to the Middle East, you might want to look at:

short description (err, the link I'm posting to)


Bet you will see similar research used by both sides to describe the other. Sigh.
8.13.2006 12:58pm
jgalak:

As I recall, the Dan Rather documents were never proven to be fraudulent; the skeptics were able to raise substantial questions about them, and the damning point was that CBS was unable to properly establish their provenance. In other words, it is not that the documents were proven to be fraudulent, but rather than CBS was unable to prove that they weren't fraudulent. It remains plausible that the documents were in fact truthful.


The Dan Rather documents showed a superscript in a smaller font than the main text. While this is routine in modern wordprocessing, a manual typewriter of the time was incapable of producing this effect - a superscript would print as the same size font, only higher up.

This is a result of the fact that manual (and electic) typewriters only have one size font available, as multiple sizes and/or fonts would make the machine huge and immensly complicated. At that time, only set type could produce that effect.

The document was unquestionably fake.
8.13.2006 1:09pm
Erasmussimo:
I believe that the crucial issue in the CBS brouhaha was the likelihood that an Air Force base would happen to use a particular and rather rare IBM Selectric type ball. The font used on that ball matched the font used in the document in question. While simple probabilities make it unlikely that such a ball would have been used in the preparation of the document, the possibility cannot be ruled out and so proof of falsification was never obtained.

Kevin, I agree with your statement that all photojournalism should be taken with a jaundiced eye; I have said that several times. And because I regard photojournalism as inherantly unreliable, I do not take it seriously nor attempt to hold it to strict standards of intellectual probity. However, I do not agree with you that we can therefore loosen our standards for intellectual probity in textual representations. We give considerable latitude to the creators of political cartoons; somewhat less latitude to photojournalists; but I give no latitude to writers of serious commentary because there is no justification for intellectual laxity in that arena.
8.13.2006 1:14pm
Bill Harshaw (mail) (www):
Mitchell:

I think you err on the Iwo Jima photograph--the photographer didn't ask for the second flag raising. See http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/iwoflag.htm. More generally, I think there's a continuum here. At one extreme the candid, spur of the moment shots,taken in chaos, just the photographer reacting to reality. Next the Iwo Jima one and lots of sports photography, where the event can be predicted and the picture planned for, but the reality is still independent of the photographer. Then you get into some manipulation by the photographer who's not creating the event but is ensuring it's visual. When you look at wedding pictures, or pictures accompanying interviews or perhaps the NYTimes photo that ran this week for the completion of the digging of a tunnel for water, you know you're not looking at people unconscious of the photographer.

Moving up (or down) the scale, we get to cases where the subject poses, whether it's any recent President at public functions, movie stars, or what, people take the initiative and change their behavior because the camera is there. Then finally there's the case where the only reality is the staged one.
8.13.2006 1:31pm
Humble Law Student (mail):
Erasmussimo,


I believe that the crucial issue in the CBS brouhaha was the likelihood that an Air Force base would happen to use a particular and rather rare IBM Selectric type ball. The font used on that ball matched the font used in the document in question. While simple probabilities make it unlikely that such a ball would have been used in the preparation of the document, the possibility cannot be ruled out and so proof of falsification was never obtained.


There were many more questions than just that. Check wiki for a good discussion or this WP article.

Interesting part, A detailed comparison by The Washington Post of memos obtained by CBS News with authenticated documents on Bush's National Guard service reveals dozens of inconsistencies, ranging from conflicting military terminology to different word-processing techniques.


The analysis shows that half a dozen Killian memos released earlier by the military were written with a standard typewriter using different formatting techniques from those characteristic of computer-generated documents. CBS's Killian memos bear numerous signs that are more consistent with modern-day word-processing programs, particularly Microsoft Word.



Its important to stress, that NO credible documents expert can authenticate them. Several aren't sure either way, and many are positive they are forgeries. The weight of the evidence weighs strongly against their authenticity.
8.13.2006 1:35pm
Fub:

Mitchell Freedman wrote:
Would we say, for example, that because the photographer who took the Iwo Jima photo had the soldiers re-enact what they did in order to take his photograph mean that the US was wrong to fight Japan in World War II? I would hope the answer to that question is, "Of course not."
Erasmussimo wrote:
I will also offer my compliments for your reminding us that the famous Iwo Jima photograph was staged. I would hope that those here who condemn all staged photographs from Lebanon will condemn just as vociferously this classic old photo.
Here is what the U. S. National Park Service has to say about that:
There were two flags raised over Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima, but not at the same time. Despite the beliefs of many, and contrary to the supposed evidence, none of the photographs of the two flag-raisings was posed.
The whole story is at the link.

Here is the story as reported by AP. It includes retractions by those who inadvertantly launched the canard.
"It was Lowery who led me into the error on the Rosenthal photo," Sherrod told the authors, Parker Albee Jr. and Keller Freeman. "I should have been more careful."

Rosenthal, who was to become close friends with Lowery in the years after Iwo Jima, rejects this explanation. "I think that is a twist that has been put on by Sherrod," Rosenthal said. He believes the source of the misunderstanding was his response to the question about his [other] picture being posed.
I added the bracketed word "other" for clarity. RTFA to learn what the other picure was.
8.13.2006 1:58pm
AnandaG:

I believe that the crucial issue in the CBS brouhaha was the likelihood that an Air Force base would happen to use a particular and rather rare IBM Selectric type ball.


As Humble points out, this was far from the only crucial issue. Other issues included terminology (such as abbreviations that were incorrect) and chain of custody (i.e. the fact that it became clear that no one knew exactly how Bill Burkett obtained the memos).

There's a separate Wikipedia entry on the technical issues associated with the memos' authenticity:

Wikipedia: Killian documents' authenticity issues

Typography is only part of it. Look at the Formatting section as well.
8.13.2006 2:01pm
MikeD:
Erasmussimo:

"I believe that the crucial issue in the CBS brouhaha was the likelihood that an Air Force base would happen to use a particular and rather rare IBM Selectric type ball. The font used on that ball matched the font used in the document in question. While simple probabilities make it unlikely that such a ball would have been used in the preparation of the document, the possibility cannot be ruled out and so proof of falsification was never obtained. "

This is a common misconception that is (probably sincerely) believed by many people who maintain that the documents were never proven inauthentic. Run a Google search and read up on some of the typographical analysis that has been performed on these documents. In fact, there was no IBM selectric or any other kind of typewriter that existed in 1972 that could have produced these documents. It is firmly established that only very complex and expensive typesetting machines could have produced the documents at that time, and that doing so would have been fairly labor intensive.

For those documents to be authentic, one would have to believe that a "memo to file" not intended for publication would have been produced on such equipment at great cost, and in addition, that the finished document coincidentally matched the default settings that would be used by MS Word 30 years in the future. That lineup of possibilities is about 1000 times better than "beyond a reasonable doubt".
8.13.2006 2:02pm
Erasmussimo:
Bill Harshaw, thanks for the link to the Iwo Jima flag raising. I had known that there were two raisings, and I had always been under the impression that the second flag raising was in some way done for the photographer, but your article put the lie to that. The Wikipedia article on the raising of the flag makes it absolutely clear that there was no staging whatsoever.

You learn something new every day! Thanks again!
8.13.2006 2:05pm
Erasmussimo:
MikeD, are you familiar with the testimony of the IBM Selectric service guy who claimed that there was a type ball matching the font on the document? Was his testimony specifically disproven?
8.13.2006 2:07pm
noahpraetorius (mail):
Erasmusimo, you are just like every moonbat that refuses to acknowledge that the CBS memos were faked. I have debated them numerous times...never once have I managed to obtain an acknowledgement that they have even seen the LGF overlay much less an explanation as to how it is possible. Selectric typeballs? Also has been disproven because MS Word has a proportional spacing algorithm that cannot be reproduced even by rare proportional spacing typewriters of that(or any) era. Also, the superscripts in particulat cannot be produced by any typewriter of that era.

And you claim to be interested in the truth?
8.13.2006 2:14pm
George Dixon (mail):
Martin Luther King Jr., "When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You're talking anti-Semitism."
8.13.2006 2:16pm
Erasmussimo:
noahpraetorius, have you seen a specific refutation of the claims of the IBM Selectric service guy? That's what I am basing my belief on. I never saw any refutation of them. If somebody can demonstrate he was wrong, then I'll dump that hypothesis like a hot potato. I'm not at all wedded to it.
8.13.2006 2:20pm
noahpraetorius (mail):
Erasmussimo, even if it were possible to configure a Selectric proportional spacing typewriter of that era to type the memos (which I doubt very seriously because of the proportional spacing issue and the superscript issue and the fact that a $50,000 reward for same went unclaimed), that would still not explain the LGF overlay. Have you ever used a manual typewriter? You have to set your margins, tab setting, and line length. So thirty years ago the typist just happened to set them to MS Word defaults that would be adopted in the future?

I am not familiar with the Selectric service guy's opinion. Link?
8.13.2006 2:31pm
Humble Law Student (mail):
Erasmussimo,

I and others have presented you with mounds of evidence that runs contrary to your position. Yet, you blithely hold onto one piece of evidence. Once again, I prime example of refusing to accept MOUNDS of evidence against your beliefs while holding on, ever so tightly, to the slightest piece that supports your contention.

I think I should keep a list.
8.13.2006 3:01pm
MnZ (mail):
MikeD, are you familiar with the testimony of the IBM Selectric service guy who claimed that there was a type ball matching the font on the document? Was his testimony specifically disproven?

Actually, I believed him. Unfortunately, the ball and the Selectric that could accommodate it were rare and expensive. It was not the type of equipment on which National Guard memos would be typed.
8.13.2006 3:10pm
Mitchell Freedman (mail) (www):
Thank you to Bill Harshaw and Fub for enlightening me. That's what I get for thinking I "knew" something I had read in various places. Shoulda googled it!

The one thing, though, in the linked article that Fub provided shows how Rosenthal, the photographer, got people thinking the second flag planting must have been staged:

"On the caption, Rosenthal had written: 'Atop 550-foot Suribachi Yama, the volcano at the southwest tip of Iwo Jima, Marines of the Second Battalion, 28th Regiment, Fifth Division, hoist the Stars and Stripes, signaling the capture of this key position.'"

This is at least ambiguous and gives the reader the impression that the planting of the flag was the end of the battle-when in fact it was a second planting some time later.

My larger point about not deciding whether a war is supportable or not by a scandal by a photographer stands. However, I am glad to be corrected about the Iwo Jima photograph. It is a brilliant and compelling photo in any event.
8.13.2006 3:29pm
Erasmussimo:
MnZ, you write, Unfortunately, the ball and the Selectric that could accommodate it were rare and expensive. It was not the type of equipment on which National Guard memos would be typed.

Yes, I agree that it is improbable. But my point is that it establishes a reasonable doubt that the document was faked.

noahpraetorius, I am sorry that I cannot satisfy your request for a link, as it was two years ago and I can't remember where I was browsing two years ago; I doubt I'll remember this site in a year. Perhaps MnZ's memory is better than mine.
8.13.2006 3:52pm
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
Mitchell Freedman and Erasumussimo assure us that Republicans photoshopped a picture of Howard Dean to make him look like Hitler. After dozens of Bush-Hitler comparisons, that might not have been surprising, but it seems to be false. Dean did look like he had a mustache in one picture that was briefly displayed on a GOP website, but that was apparently an artefact of lighting and pixel compression. The website replaced the picture with a better one as soon as people noticed and objected.

Most important, even with his "mustache", Dean didn't look any more like Hitler than any other hairy-lipped man giving an enthusiastic speech. The shadow would have had to have been a lot darker, a lot narrower, and a lot squarer (not to mention more symmetrical) to achieve a Hitler effect.

I should mention that it did make Dean look a lot like Cliff Clavin. Click to my site to judge for yourselves.
8.13.2006 3:55pm
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
Sorry, my site is www.drweevil.org, not www.doctorweevil.org. (Earthlink hijacked the old domain and is trying to make me pay a large sum to get it back.)
8.13.2006 3:59pm
Stephan Michelson (mail):
Dustin writes, and apparently most people agree:

Israel was attacked, unprovoked, from a foreign land.

This "obvious" truth is, in fact, false. There are hundreds of instances of Israel flying over Lebanon, often doing damage. In May, 2006, an Israeli agent killed two Lebanese in Sidon (see London Times June 15). From where were those prisoners held by Israel, that Hezbollah wanted to exchange for, taken? In the exchange of prisoners in 2000, Ariel Sharon agreed to release three specific prisoners named by Hezbollah (Samir Kuntar, Yahye Skaff and Nissim Mousa
N'isr), but did not do it. Rightly or wrongly, in a manner similar to a presidential signing statement (declaring an intent), Hassan Nasrullah declared that this perfidy would justify a future capture of Israeli soldiers, to effectuate the failed exchange.

Thus from Hezbollah's point of view, and not an unreasonable one, the current capture was indeed provoked by Israel's failure to live up to its earlier agreement. Calling it unprovoked starts history in a certain place, which is certainly a distortion.

One can hold different views on all of this, but this discussion has been terribly devoid of historical knowledge, much to my disappointment.
8.13.2006 4:00pm
PooHPoohBear:
I'm sure this photo was staged for effect. I wonder how many of this Arab's Human rights were violated.
http://news.yahoo.com/photo/060813/481/
8.13.2006 4:59pm
Richard Riley (mail):
Interesting that the "Rathergate" docs have come up in this comment thread.

Erasmussimo, here's what convinced me they were fake: When the controversy arose, I wasn't leaning one way or the other on the docs' authenticity. Once I saw the accusation that the docs looked too modern, I opened up my plain vanilla, off-the-shelf, factory-default-setting copy of Microsoft Word and typed in the header and a couple of paragraphs of one of the documents. I remember staring open-mouthed when I saw that the document I had just personally typed on my screen wasn't just similar, it was IDENTICAL to the "TX Air National Guard" memos supposedly from 30+ years ago.

So you're right, I guess there's no conclusive proof the documents were fake. But the indirect evidence is SO suggestive that, at a minimum, I think the burden of proof now is very much on those who assert that the documents are authentic. As a couple of commenters note above, there was a Washington Post article at the time that summed up the orthographic evidence and all the rest of it pretty nicely.
8.13.2006 5:02pm
Toby:
Erasmussimo is still waiting for conclusinve proof that the National Guard did not use Area 51 technology to project a PC and laser printer back in time.

E - the early report from IBM dealt with the possibility of producing a superscript, but did not in fact deal with a different size superscript.

You are no more likely to find a specific refutation (proving a negative) than you are to find the anonymous "IBM Technician" - who, of course, is more credible than all others on the planet who have actually worked with typography in the 70's and today.

sheesh
8.13.2006 5:16pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
As I recall, the Dan Rather documents were never proven to be fraudulent; the skeptics were able to raise substantial questions about them, and the damning point was that CBS was unable to properly establish their provenance. In other words, it is not that the documents were proven to be fraudulent, but rather than CBS was unable to prove that they weren't fraudulent. It remains plausible that the documents were in fact truthful.
It's impossible to "prove" that documents are fraudulent in most cases. You could show scientifically that the paper or ink didn't exist at the time it was purportedly written. You could show that the text referenced something that didn't exist/hadn't happened at the time it was purportedly written. ("Yesterday, FDR took out his cell phone and made a phone call about the Vietnam War.") Other than that, one can't "prove" it.

Here, neither was possible -- they didn't have the originals, so they couldn't subject them to scientific analysis -- although they came close to doing the former, showing it utterly improbable that it could have been typed as it purportedly was, since only a very expensive machine that the TANG wouldn't have had could have produced it. Every outside expert approached by CBS told them either that the documents were fake or that the documents couldn't be authenticated. And the story about where the documents came from was *proven* to be a lie. (Mapes' source admitted he lied. And his later story didn't hold up -- he got them from a person who doesn't appear to exist.)

That makes it implausible that they were truthful.
8.13.2006 5:38pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
This "obvious" truth is, in fact, false. There are hundreds of instances of Israel flying over Lebanon, often doing damage. In May, 2006, an Israeli agent killed two Lebanese in Sidon (see London Times June 15).
That's a Chomskyite technique: a purportedly neutral citation for a "fact" that isn't a real citation at all. The "London Times" didn't say any such thing. Hezbollah said it. The London Times may have quoted their accusation, but that doesn't mean the Times endorsed it.

A Lebanese citizen was arrested after a car bombing -- I have no idea whether he was involved at all, but let's suppose he was -- and purportedly "confessed" to being an Israeli agent. Nobody believes this.
8.13.2006 5:50pm
Erasmussimo:
David, I long ago accepted the likelihood of the documents being fabricated. However, I balk at black-and-white claims that they were proven to be fraudulent, especially when people's reputations are at stake. The statements of the IBM Selectric service guy struck me as knowledgeable. He was not a partisan, emphasizing that the likelihood of the TANG having such a typewriter was low. However, he seemed to be quite certain that the document could have been typed on such a machine, and so my sense of fairness demands that I accept the case as "probable, but not proven". If I were on the jury and this were a criminal case, I would vote to acquit; if it were a civil case, I would vote the other way.
8.13.2006 6:03pm
Kevin L. Connors (mail) (www):
Give it up Erasmussimo, the case against Rather and company is more than strong enough to stand up in a court of law.

But this seems to be a common modus operandi for you - clinging to the absurd, against all odds, as though grasping a lamppost in a tornado. How do you expect to win anything more than ridicule like that?
8.13.2006 6:10pm
Lively:
Erasmussimo

I can't remember where I was browsing two years ago; I doubt I'll remember this site in a year.
8.13.2006 7:03pm
Erasmussimo:
Well, Kevin, if you have proof positive that the IBM Selectric service guy was wrong, I'm all ears. Perhaps my standard of proof is higher than yours.

Lively, I don't get your point.
8.13.2006 7:06pm
Aukahe:
Erasmussimo,

Well, Kevin, if you have proof positive that the IBM Selectric service guy was wrong, I'm all ears. Perhaps my standard of proof is higher than yours.


Rather was leveling an accusation against Bush with the memo presented as proof. It was on Rather and Company to prove the memo's authenticity beyond a reasonable doubt. They failed.
8.13.2006 7:13pm
SG:
Erasmussimo,

Please provide a link to "the IDM Selectric service guy"'s statement. I don't recall anyone ever saying that the memo's typography could have been reproduced (font/spacing/font size), only that there existed a product that had superscript capability. That product would have produced a superscript, but it would have been a different font and most definitely would not have kerning. I.e., there still is no known way for the memos to have been produced when they were claimed.

Truth is, I think this is much like your previous claim of the Bush adminsitration having revoked press credentials due to unfavorable stories. It's not true, but since it confirms your biases you hold on to it.
8.13.2006 7:56pm
Kevin L. Connors (mail) (www):
Erasmussimo;

Sigh. This is really maddening, as this was covered to death two years ago. In order to do the proportional spacing and superscript, one would have required an IBM Selectric Composer. These were extremely expensive, and simply did not exist in NG unit commander's offices at LTC Killian's level. But there's more. I refer you to this post by Donald Sensing.
8.13.2006 8:14pm
Humble Law Student (mail):
Kevin,

Very interesting article, I hadn't seen it explained it that depth.
8.13.2006 8:44pm
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
For Erasmussimo:

Suppose some scholar or pseudo-scholar announced that he had found an ancient manuscript containing a lost chapter of Caesar's Gallic Wars: that would be thrilling, at least for some of us. (I'm a Latin teacher.) But suppose the new chapter contained a sentence in which Caesar mentions drinking an orange soda in a tall glass with ice cubes while preparing his battle plans. Scholars would reject the soda as a blatant anachronism proving the passage to be a modern forgery.

Or perhaps some would not. There is nothing physically impossible in the idea that Caesar could drink an orange soda. It could theoretically have happened:

1. In conquering Gaul, Caesar may well have visited the mineral springs of Perrier, where the water is naturally carbonated -- in effect, club soda bubbling up from the ground. While there, he may well have drunk some of the local specialty. Chance that this actually happened: 1 in 250.

2. Glass vessels were far less common in Caesar's time than they would be a century or two later, after rapid advances in glass-making technology in the first century A.D., but it's conceivable that some local Gallic craftsman was ahead of the technological curve, and (much increasing the odds) that Caesar used his products. Chance that this actually happened: 1 in 200.

3. Though he was almost certainly too busy conquering Gaul to worry about such things, it's conceivable that a powerful and ingenious man like Caesar could have arranged to have a wagonload of ice hacked from a Swiss glacier, transported to his headquarters in Gaul under heavy blankets to retard melting, and chopped by hand into well-matched conveniently-sized cubes by local craftsmen to cool his drinks in the summer. Chance that this actually happened: 1 in 200.

4. Oranges might theoretically have been imported from China in Caesar's time, since we know that there was trade between China and Rome. The fact that oranges are not attested in Rome until much later (400 years later, according to this site) does not absolutely prove that a very few were not imported earlier, or rather (since fresh oranges would have spoiled along the way) that a few seeds were not imported, and planted, and grew into trees, and produced fruit, without anyone outside the immediate neighborhood ever hearing about them. (Perhaps a frost killed them the next winter.) Piling ifs on ifs, it might have occurred to someone to squeeze some of the hypothetical juice of one of these hypothetical oranges into a glass container full of Perrier water and glacial ice cubes, perhaps with some honey to sweeten it. (Otherwise, it would more flavored seltzer than orange soda.) And such a person might conceivably have offered his concoction to Caesar. Chance that oranges were available in Gaul in Caesar's time, and that he ever drank the juice of one in any form: 1 in 100,000.

Of course, each of the necessary ingredients for a glass of orange soda with ice cubes, though not technically impossible, is so extremely unlikely in Caesar's time that the combination of all four is literally 1 in 1,000,000,000,000. Any Latin text such as I have imagined would therefore be immediately dismissed as a crude forgery composed by some modern too ignorant to avoid even the grossest anachronisms.

Do I need to spell out the moral as if I were Aesop telling animal fables to little children?
8.13.2006 9:10pm
SG:
Ah, but Dr. Weevil, suppose in this lost chapter Caesar commented on George Bush's lies about Iraq? In that case, I think we'd at least have to entertain the possibility that it was authentic. After all, since we all know that Bush did lie, Caesar's remarking on that fact would bolster the credibility of the rest of the document.
8.13.2006 9:27pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
I know this is overkill, but...
As I recall, the Dan Rather documents were never proven to be fraudulent; the skeptics were able to raise substantial questions about them, and the damning point was that CBS was unable to properly establish their provenance. In other words, it is not that the documents were proven to be fraudulent, but rather than CBS was unable to prove that they weren't fraudulent. It remains plausible that the documents were in fact truthful.
Sorry, you live in a dream world. The memos matched MSFT default settings exactly, and there was not a typewriter available at that time that could do any number of the things found in the memos, including: kerning; infinately proportional fonts; superscripts that were non-integer character width, etc. Plus, they used Army/Army Reserve formatting and terminology, versus Air Force/AFR formatting and terminology.
I believe that the crucial issue in the CBS brouhaha was the likelihood that an Air Force base would happen to use a particular and rather rare IBM Selectric type ball. The font used on that ball matched the font used in the document in question. While simple probabilities make it unlikely that such a ball would have been used in the preparation of the document, the possibility cannot be ruled out and so proof of falsification was never obtained.
The fonts didn't match exactly, but were close. The ball was rare, but was used. However, you (and CBS) still can't answer my previous points - that the documents probably couldn't even have been created with the relatively expensive IBM typesetting equipment available then (much too expensive for a TANG unit), and were clearly not created by a typewriter of any vintage, and in particular, with the type of typewriters available to a TANG unit. The type of infinately variable font widths and variable heights, plus kerning, that we take for granted with word processing (in this case, almost assuredly, MSFT Word 97 or later) just aren't available with typewriters. Kerning is only feasible if you know what the previous and next characters are, and have the intelligence to utilize that information.
MikeD, are you familiar with the testimony of the IBM Selectric service guy who claimed that there was a type ball matching the font on the document? Was his testimony specifically disproven?
See above.
Yes, I agree that it is improbable. But my point is that it establishes a reasonable doubt that the document was faked.
No it doesn't. Yes, it was possible to find a pretty close font. But without a memory, typewriters are incapable of kerning, and the rare typewriters of that vintage that did support variable width characters essentially used integer widths, and not the almost infinately variable widths automatically utilized today with modern word processing programs (which is, BTW, why these typewriters couldn't support the superscripting seen in the memos).

I would suggest that most people think of a reasonable doubt as maybe 5% or so. I wouldn't give the memos more than one chance in a million of not being faked, and I think that it would be rare for anyone who truly understood the technical issues to give it much more of a chance. And that is not a reasonable doubt.
8.13.2006 10:10pm
Erasmussimo:
Gentlemen: It appears that Kevin has corroborated the IBM Selectric service guy's statement that there was such a machine capable of producing the document in question. Thank you, Kevin. The article you link to explains in detail exactly how it could have been done. So I think that the technical argument of impossibility has been eliminated. What remains is an argument of improbability: the likelihood that the office in question would have possessed such a typewriter, the likelihood that it would have been used for such a task, and so forth. I have already observed that the probabilities lie in favor of the hypothesis that the documents were forged; the only point I have been making is that the hypothesis has not been proven -- and I think Kevin's link is definitive on that point. (The writer seems a bit confused about the function of proportional spacing, but that does not detract from the overall utility of his material).

Dr. Weevil offers us a rather long-winded anecdotal expression of the notion that sufficiently low probability is indistinguishable from certainty. He is of course correct. The difficulty here is that one must demonstrate that the probabilities in this case are negligible. For example, we all know that National Guard units frequently use hand-me-down equipment from the regular military. Knowing the complexities and snarl-ups of military logistics in the pre-computer age, is anybody here willing to deny the possibility that such a device could have been purchased in 1966 and then, years later, handed down to the national guard unit? What if the device had partially malfunctioned and was no longer serviceable in its primary function, and was handed down to the National Guard unit as a super-duper typewriter? What if its primary purpose was indeed for snazzy document preparation, and somebody who was learning how to use it used ordinary memos to practice? What if the device were a pre-production seed unit that just got lost in the shuffle? There are a thousand possibilities here, and to flatly deny that any of these are possible is an act of volition, not logic.
8.13.2006 10:12pm
SG:
Erasmussimo:

You are irrational. The article does not say that the document could be reproduced. It says that features of the document can be reproduced. Kerning is unsupported by the typewriter. Kerning is not justtification.

It's not just low-probability. People have put money up against it. There exists a bounty of (I believe) $50,000 for anybody who can reproduce the document (which can be reproduced by the default settings of Microsoft Word). The bounty remains unclaimed.

If you (or anyone else) believe that typewriter can recreate the document, by all means prove it. No one has. And there was a lot of desire to do so.

Yet somehow, you still insist that there exists a doubt. You don't possess critical thinking skills.
8.13.2006 10:27pm
MikeD:
Erasmussimo:

First, here's a link to an analysis by a Dr. Newcomer, if you have the patience for it (it goes into rather excruciating technical detail):

http://www.flounder.com/bush2.htm

It is entirely valid to regard an event with probabilities literally in the neighborhood of billions to one, if not even less, as "impossible" in this context.

I encourage you to examine as much information as you can find about this topic. The whole blow-up was all the way back in 2004, so there are alot of dead links around, but you can still find a good amount of material.

Basically, the big issue with these documents is that CBS news fell for obvious, ludicrous, primitive, and provable forgeries, even ignoring the warnings of their own document experts. This suggests pretty convincingly that they had a very strong emotional investment; they wanted the story to be true so badly that their judgement was severely compromised.
8.13.2006 10:31pm
Humble Law Student (mail):
Erasmussimo,

You say,

"It appears that Kevin has corroborated the IBM Selectric service guy's statement that there was such a machine capable of producing the document in question. Thank you, Kevin. The article you link to explains in detail exactly how it could have been done."



What the article actually says, "

But both of the Killian memos CBS displayed are "ragged right," meaning that the text's left margin is justified, but the right is not. That indicates, I would think, that if the memos were typed on a Composer, the typist didn't use the proportional spacing feature.

Yet the documents do display proportional spacing, which MS Word on PCs produces whether you set it for full justification or not. But on the Composer, it seems a typist can't use pro. spacing without also producing fully justified text."

Umm no, you are wrong. Nice try though
8.13.2006 10:35pm
SG:
Just to define some terms. As it's impossible to prove a negative, it is the responsibility of the person making the positive claim to provide proof. In this case, the positive claim is that there existed technology capable of producing the memos at the time they were claimed to have been written. Since after much investigation and even a cash bounty, no one has been able to reproduce the document using any potentially available technology. The null hypothesis (that the documents are fraudulent) stands.

This is scientific method. It really does work.

Now if someone does find some typewriter that we were previously unaware of, they can type up the memo and see if it matches. If so, then we can look at some of the other facts (would it have been present in a Texas Air Natrional Guard office, etc.), but there's no reason to go there yet.

And of course, even if we could find the technolody, we'd still have to explain the incorrect terminology and the invalid dates.

And if that could be explained away, then we would have to start looking at the credibility of the contents. That would require us to evaluate the provider of the documentation, and the contradicted testminony of the principals.

Yet, on some strange alternate planet that's much like this one, somebody who claims to be nothing but rational claims that there's still some uncertainty as to whether the memos were a fraud.
8.13.2006 10:40pm
Kevin L. Connors (mail) (www):
SG:

[Rather and company] wanted the story to be true so badly that their judgement was severely compromised.

I believe the same can be said of Erasmussimo. :)
8.13.2006 10:48pm