My point, instead, was simply to prove that the argument being proposed and propagated -- that MS Word and original version of the documents were "mostly identical" -- was a red herring, and that the denizens of LittleGreenFootballs are intellectual half-wits in a very large pond of right-wing half-wits. This I hope I have done to everyone's satisfaction; if not, read on.
Second, a number of people point out that this debunking of a debunking is a colossal "waste of time". Perhaps, perhaps not. But one of the points of the cooperative blogosphere, and of political blogs in particular, is that different individuals can choose their targets. A very few people managed to track down irrefutable evidence that the rationales underpinning the "forgery" cries were simply false, and were able to do so in a short time. The rest of the blogosphere didn't have to lift a finger.
And I don't like lies. And I especially don't like lies that make it into the mainstream media with such astonishing ease. And I choose to do something about it.
There are more interesting things coming out of this than merely the full and certain knowledge that conservatives can't perform either logical analysis or basic Google searches. We also have been given a prime example of how the mainstream media obtains its information, and where they get it from.
Original post is here.
Glyphs in fonts are defined by tiny, minute details. There are sometimes big and obvious differences, but you of COURSE have to examine the originals in high resolution to tell definitively if they are the same.
Shrinking a font down to 10 or 12 pixels high is an absolutely foolish way to compare two typefaces. Hell, if you shrink it down to NINE pixels you can make ANY two serif fonts look the same! Observe:
And in the limit, if you shrink to ONE pixel high, ALL fonts look identical! Why, if I were stupid I'd think it was like magic!
These are obviously two very different typefaces. Superimposed on each other at extremely low resolution, however, they look identical.
In other words, the LittleGreenFootball crowd has successfully demonstrated that two typefaces designed to look similar do indeed look similar, at small type sizes, if you don't look very hard. The fact that this "discovery" has now been trumpeted across the continent by everyone from Rush Limbaugh to the major news networks should make mainstream media sources very, very embarrassed. (It is constitutionally impossible, however, to make LGF contributors embarrassed. They named their site after nose-picking, what else exactly do you need to know?)
Another definitive indication the letter was typewritten, or at least that it was a more clever forgery than a five-minute Word job, can be seen when examining the letter closely, as opposed to the birds-eye view that the right-wing claims rely on.
Look particularly at the word "interference", at the beginning of the second line. It contains four 'e's. Two are at the baseline; two are raised slightly above the baseline. It is inconsistent, even on the same line, within the same word.
This isn't an artifact of a fax, or a copy distortion; if that were true, all 'e' elements would be equally misplaced. These character drifts must necessarily exist in the original document. Similar drifts exist throughout, and for other letters.
If you were comparing this document with a Microsoft Word document at a small type size, you wouldn't even notice the differences. But as we have previously demonstrated, if you are comparing those two documents at a small type size, you are a moron.
Conclusions on the "credibility" of a typewriter existing with these capabilities:
They existed. The model in question is almost certainly an IBM Executive Model C or D. IBM typewriters were popular with government entities; the Executives were popular in particular because they could make very forceful strikes -- able to make numerous duplicate copies at the same time, which was always necessary for government work.
A commenter at the Washington Monthly blog had this to say:
Kevin, I worked in the IBM Office Products Division field service area fixing typewriters in NYC for over 13 years in the 70s. I can tell you that the Model D can produce those documents, not only did it do proportional spacing, you could order any font that IBM produced AND order keys that had the aftmentioned superscripted "th." Also you could order the platen, thats the roller that grabs the paper, in a 54 tooth configuration that produced space, space and a half and double spacing on the line indexing, this BTW was popular in legal offices. The Model D had to be ordered from a IBM salesmen and was not something that was a off the shelf item, typical delivery time were 4-6 weeks. Also, typewriter keys were changed in the field all the time, its not that hard to do. I wish I had saved my service and parts replacement manuals to backup this claim but I'm guessing a call to IBM with a request for a copy of their font and parts replacement manuals would put this to rest ASAP.
Posted by: BillG NYC on September 10, 2004 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK
As I said, I have found nothing that contradicts this information. It would appear you could order the humble IBM Executive with a wide variety of typestyles and characters, especially if you were a large, important client. It would also appear not only that these machines were in at least relatively widespread use in government and other offices -- yes, even in supposedly primitive backwaters like Texas -- but that this particular typeset and capabilities would not have even been outrageously uncommon. And as I have previously noted, we have definitely identified that Times New Roman and similar typesets were indeed developed at IBM for the period in question, for use on Selectric and Executive typewriters.
Media Reaction and "Expert" Analysis
So far, "expert" analysis on these documents has been sadly lacking, probably in large part due to the presumed unwillingness of true "experts" to look at an n-th generation document posted on the web, and deduce whether it is "true".
I want to single out one story in particular, because it is a particularly concise example:
More than half a dozen document experts contacted by ABC News said they had doubts about the memos' authenticity.
"These documents do not appear to have been the result of technology that was available in 1972 and 1973," said Bill Flynn, one of country's top authorities on document authentication. "The cumulative evidence that's available ... indicates that these documents were produced on a computer, not a typewriter:"
Among the points Flynn and other experts noted:
- The memos were written using a proportional typeface, where letters take up variable space according to their size, rather than fixed-pitch typeface used on typewriters, where each letter is allotted the same space. Proportional typefaces are available only on computers or on very high-end typewriters that were unlikely to be used by the National Guard.
As we have proven, this is clearly wrong. Proportional typefaces were available in electric typewriters since the 1940's. As we have demonstrated, IBM, which did heavy business with the government and military, produced these typewriters.
- The memos include superscript, i.e., the "th" in "187th" appears above the line in a smaller font. Superscript was not available on typewriters.
This statement is proven false by a cursory glance at any of the pre-existing documents contemporary to this one. Any expert who would claim that 'th' was not available on typewriters, if nothing else, could look at the documents previously released and known to be authentic, many of which contain this magical and impossible 'th' glyph.
- The memos included "curly" apostrophes rather than straight apostrophes found on typewriters.
It can be empirically proven that typewriters existed with "curly" apostrophes. Many, in fact. Here is a 1954 ad for an IBM Executive typewriter that clearly shows the ability of that machine to produce "curly" apostrophes.
- The font used in the memos is Times Roman, which was in use for printing but not in typewriters. The Haas Atlas -- the bible of fonts -- does not list Times Roman as an available font for typewriters.
This statement is false in at least two ways. First, the font used in the memos is quite possibly not Times Roman or Times New Roman, at least not one that matches current incarnations. Second, Times New Roman was indeed used for typewriters. In the 1960s, IBM hired the original designer of Times New Roman, Stanley Morison, to adapt the font to IBM typewriters.
So on this one, the "expert" is simply full of shit. There's no polite way to say it. This is simply dumbassitude of the highest order, and in front of a national audience to boot.
- The vertical spacing used in the memos, measured at 13 points, was not available in typewriters, and only became possible with the advent of computers.
Adjustable line spacing only became possible with the advent of computers? Really?
Hmm, we'll have to wait and see on this one. I am extremely skeptical that (a) these '13 points' measurements were taken with any more care that in the rest of the provably false claims, and (b) that no typewriter on the planet was capable of creating this line spacing. The jury, however, is out. Update [2004-9-10 22:22:33 by Hunter]: It has been confirmed that the 1966 Selectric Composer, at least, did in fact have this capability.
So it would appear that the "experts" quoted by the media are not only wrong, but astoundingly and easily provably wrong in their assertions. I therefore have several questions which I would like to ask any media figures who wander this way.
- What does it take to be considered a "document expert"?
- How much does it pay?
- Can you hire me to do it?
- How 'bout reporter? Do you have one of those yet? 'Cause fuck, it seems pretty easy.
CBS News Anchor Dan Rather says many of those raising questions about the documents have focused on something called superscript, a key that automatically types a raised "th."
Critics claim typewriters didn't have that ability in the 1970s. But some models did. In fact, other Bush military records already released by the White House itself show the same superscript - including one from 1968.
Some analysts outside CBS say they believe the typeface on these memos is New Times Roman, which they claim was not available in the 1970s.
But the owner of the company that distributes this typing style says it has been available since 1931.
Reached Friday by satellite, Matley said, "Since it is represented that some of them are definitely his, then we can conclude they are his signatures."
Matley said he's not surprised that questions about the documents have come up.
"I knew going in that this was dynamite one way or the other. And I knew that potentially it could do far more potential damage to me professionally than benefit me," he said. "But we seek the truth. That's what we do. You're supposed to put yourself out, to seek the truth and take what comes from it."
Robert Strong was an administrative officer for the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam years. He knew Jerry Killian, the man credited with writing the documents. And paper work, like these documents, was Strong's specialty. He is standing by his judgment that the documents are real.
"They are compatible with the way business was done at that time," Strong said. "They are compatible with the man I remember Jerry Killian being. I don't see anything in the documents that's discordant with what were the times, the situation or the people involved."
Other quick clarifications:
- It would appear that the IBM Selectric Composer, while certainly top of the line, was not as rare or as cumbersome to use as perhaps has been implied, if you weren't using the "advanced" features -- none of which are used by this memo. And it has been documented that the military had these machines. This particular office of the TANG? Unclear, and largely not an issue, because more common machines could also duplicate these memos.
- The name of the typeface is is largely irrelevant, as many typefaces exist that are strikingly similar to one another, and some near-duplicates with alternative names. The presence of 'th' superscript glyphs (characters, if you prefer) in other typefaces is useful for proving that the feature was indeed widespread at the time, but does not prove that the glyph existed in any typeface other than the demonstrated one; so it's helpful, but not a proof.
- What does the history of Times New Roman, as outlined in the previous post, demonstrate? That Times New Roman was a font that IBM specifically designed into their machines at the time, and that Microsoft Times New Roman is specifically and very carefully designed to look as precisely like the original Times New Roman as possible, down to the character widths, spacing between letters, etc. Again, it is documentation that the modern fonts are specifically designed to look like their less modern counterparts; "discovering" this fact is hardly proof of anything (at least, not anything that could be considering flattering to the discoverer.)
- It continues to be unclear whether CBS has "originals" or copies, but the most recent transcript suggests that they themselves have "photocopies." What is unclear is whether they mean modern photocopies or contemporary, 1970s copies; modern copies is most likely, since it is highly doubtful a whistleblower would remove the originals from a file in order to give them to CBS -- he would make copies, and keep the originals. Thus, actual indentations in the paper are not going to be found, nor are paper and ink tests going to be conclusive.