Friday, September 10, 2004

Right Wing Operatives Hoax Dan Rather

Simple experiment: Go to, today's CBS News article in which Dan Rather vigorously defends controversial documents that incriminate Bush as authentic. Open the PDF versions of the articles using the widely-installed, free Adobe Acrobat Reader software. Now, enter the text of the documents into Microsoft Word using the default MS Word settings of 12-point font and default (American paper) margins. What do you get? You get the exact word wrap of the text in the documents. In other words, these documents are totally forgeries, not only produced using Microsoft Word, but done in such a way as to make it TOTALLY OBVIOUS that they were produced in Microsoft Word.

For the list you have to hit Control-Z at one point to turn off the auto-indent on the list. And there is an extra space in front of one of the periods in one of documents (which is obvious from the PDF).

But if you enter this, you get the IDENTICAL TEXT, with identical word wrap in the paragraphs as produced. So yeah, this was done in the American version of Microsoft Word, a program that almost every American with a computer has.

The text was then run through a cheap fax machine over a noisy telephone line, creating an uneven base-line that fooled 60 Minutes' experts into thinking it was done on a manual typewriter of that era.

Now, any forger worth his salt would know to use a real manual typewriter from the period to type these forgeries. Everyone's family has one of these things lying around in their attic somewhere as an attic. It might not fool all of the experts, but, after running through a noisy fax line, it wouldn't be BLINDING OBVIOUSLY (once revealed by the Republican hench-men) that these were totally forgeries.

And, every (well, almost every) user of Microsoft Word knows that you set "Courier New" as your fixed point font if you want to emulate a typewritter --- which one sometimes needs to do in the preparation of any sort of complex documents. People publishing computer source code, for example, (or preparing web sites like us bloggers), use this font all the time to turn off kerning and get that typewritter effect that is the convention for "quoted machine text."

Conclusion: The forger wasn't a blogger.

But was the forger totally incompetent? After all, he (or she) was smart enough and technically savvy enough to know that running the text through a dirty fax machine would create the "uneven" character effect of a manual typewritter. This could be done more cleanly (and more convincingly) by making some modifications to the MS Word document (which any skilled MS Word user could easily figure out, as well as those with an understanding of Adobe PostScript.)

But, then, millions of Americans wouldn't be able to reproduce the forgery at home. So, they might not be easily convince after the fact by Republicans that these things were total frauds.

Incidentally, Dan Rather's reliable sources are all Texans, and probably Republicans.

So, guess who it was who made the most reliable name in journalism look like stupid?

Chalk another one up for Karl Rove's boys --- they are good, if total crooks.

The White House, of course, immediately accepted these documents as authentic, and distributed them on their website after the 60 Minutes report came out. The White House (namely, George W. Bush) is in an unusually good position to know whether or not these documents are real. In fact, given that they are hoaxes, you'd expect them to realize that immediately. And they would have were they acting in good faith. Yet they accepted the documents as genuine, and are only now starting to raise questions.

So, it's clear who is behind this, and it's clear this is a total screw job on Dan Rather.

Incidentally, might there by any truth to these documents? Might real versions exist somewhere?

One strategy for discrediting a story is to do something like this --- break the story using fake documents that can easily be proven to be fake after the fact. Once Dan Rather is duped, provide evidence that they are fake. (Like the Dallas News --- those Texans again --- reporting today that one of the officers mentioned in the documents was discharged a year before the documents were written. A forger researching all of this wouldn't have done that, unless the intent was to make it easy to prove the documents as fake after the fact.)

By proving (very poor) fake documents were behind the story, this will discredit the story completely, even if there is some truth to it.

And it's easy to do, as the Republicans know which parts of this story are fake and which parts are real.

And some parts were real, but they may now forever be discredited.