August 11, 2006


Reuters' Image Problem: L.A. blog unmasks Hezbollah propaganda (BRENDAN BERNHARD, August 9, 2006, LA Weekly)

It’s been a good week for Los Angeles’ most controversial political Web site, Little Green Footballs, widely reviled by some because it takes global Islamist terrorism more seriously than, say, a Dick Cheney hunting accident.

On August 5, Little Green Footballs (LGF) provided convincing visual evidence that a Reuters photograph of the aftermath of an Israeli bombing of Beirut was a poorly Photoshopped fake. The black clouds of smoke and duplicated buildings shown in the photograph were so obviously “cloned,” in Photoshop-speak, that it seemed surprising they could escape notice on one of the world’s most prestigious news desks. But escape it they did, and the image went ’round the world, one more victory in Hezbollah’s propaganda war against Israel and the U.S.

But then, it has long been the contention of LGF’s webmaster, 53-year-old Charles Johnson, who is the co-founder of Pajamas Media, that an awful lot of dodgy news items seem to slip past the news desks of Reuters, the Associated Press, and other major media organizations and newspapers. Two years ago, Johnson was the blogger responsible for exposing CBS anchorman Dan Rather’s use of forged memos about George W. Bush’s military service in an attempt to influence the 2004 presidential election. The memos were such obvious forgeries that Johnson was able to reveal them as such in a matter of minutes, posting the results online. But Dan Rather, the heir to Walter Cronkite and figurehead for CBS News, bought into them wholesale.

They could at least make it harder to expose them.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 11, 2006 12:26 AM

If you don't understand the rules have changed, and you now have thousands able to critique and compare notes within hours, then you're not going to work very hard to cover your tracks, if you believe the only ones you have to bamboozle are the editors back the home office (who are generally in synch with your own political beliefs and not likely to question the evidence very hard).

Posted by: John at August 11, 2006 12:32 AM

As everyone knows, the inital "exposer" of the CBS fraud was a lawyer from Atlanta named 'Buckhead' (his Freeper moniker), who sent an e-mail to the Powerline website, suggesting that the TANG papers were fake. Things mushroomed from there. Charles Johnson supplied the coup de grace with his screenshot comparison to WORD.

Posted by: ratbert at August 11, 2006 1:17 AM

That's the thing that always gets me. The documents were identical to a Word document using default settings and printed off. It would have been so easy to have made the thing off in almost any way. We were very lucky.

I once made a joke telegram using a vintage scanned document and extensive Photoshop work....just for fun. I wasn't trying to fool the world. What lame enemies we have.

Posted by: RC at August 12, 2006 3:12 AM


I hadn't heard that he sent an email to Charles Johnson, but that he produced a post on Free Republic outlining the reasons for his skepticism. People noticed it, and from there on out, it just snowballed. I believe that by the next day there was pretty much a consensus that the documents were phony.

Of course, he may very well have both written the post and sent the email.

I'm sure the power of the Internet is frequently exaggerated, but it is cool to think that a fairly knowledgeable person can now post a critique and thousands of truth monitors can start an immediate correction process. I doubt CBS would've been caught had they done this 10 years ago.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at August 14, 2006 12:29 AM

Good site. Thanks:-)

Posted by: at August 31, 2006 10:23 PM