Smear Campaigns For Dummies — Basic 101

I suppose John Kerry will be elected president this year. Actually, I have no doubt about it anymore.

The once invincible-looking Republican machine of George W. Bush is looking more and more incompetent by the day.

George Bush & company run the country!? No way! They couldn’t run a roomful of kids.

I’m not talking about all their screw-ups and lies about the war in Iraq, the U.S. Economy, (your favorite Bush disaster here), etc, etc. I’m talking about a very lame attempt that I received in my e-mail today just seems to me indicative of how the current administration is just totally inept and a miserable failure.

Today, I received in my e-mail a ridiculous attempt to smear John Kerry. Now I’m not saying the Bush administration made this. I’m just saying, “Birds of a feather, flock together.” This smear endeavor is so bad, it is just depressing in its futility.

So, today, I am going to go through it step by step on how you can spot a faked photo or document.

You’d have thought that Bush and buddies would have learned their lesson from that pathetic attempt to show that Saddam Hussein was trying to buy “Yellow-Cake Uranium” from Niger.

“Yellow Cake from Niger!? More like a fruitcake in the White-House!”

First off, let me give you my qualifications for teaching this class in “Smear Campaigns for Dummies — Basic 101.”

A) I work in the mass media. I have worked for newspapers and magazines before.

B) I was the chief staff photographer for Republican Congressman Bob Lagomarsino in California in 1983. That means I was a professional photographer.

C) Besides working in the mass media, making music-related TV and radio shows, I also make promotional posters and art. That means I know how to “doctor” photos… I am still a professional at this.

D) I studied Cinematography and Photography as a university student.

Now that you know who I am and those are my qualifications, you know who you are; let’s look at the “article” in question:

A superficial look at this would suggest an article from the San Francisco Chronicle. The date is Sunday, July 17th, 1982 (?)…

Before I rip a hundred holes in this obvious fake. Let’s see if you can pick out the parts that seem “strange.” Take a close look. Read the story. It says:

Caption under photo: PLEASE ALLOW ME TO INTRODUCE MYSELF: Anton La Vey: high priest of the Church of Satan, meets with noted attorney John Kerry at CISPES function.

Fundraiser: Strange Bedfellows (Fundraiser, from B-1) at the party.

Among the notables was congressman John Kerry, a former Massachusetts district attorney, who was in town for a fundraiser sponsored by CISPES. The flamboyant La Vey, who has never shunned the company of celebrities, obviously relished the opportunity to have himself photographed with Kerry, who gained fame (illegible)…

not his first encounter with the noted attorney.

For his part, Kerry averred simply that he supported all forms of religious freedom. “I believe that God is within each of us, that each individual partakes of divinity.” In response, La Vey pronounced this position congruent with the spirit of “true Satanism.” Pressed for further details about his own theology, la Vey insisted: “We believe in neither God nor the Devil. We…” (illegible)

Besides this sophomoric “editorial,” that conveniently cuts off at the bottom of the photo, there are so many errors in this that I couldn’t possibly name them all.

But let’s just go through the obvious ones I picked out almost immediately:

You can tell, even from a black and white copy, that this photo is not authentic. There are several blatant errors in the photo. The biggest one is that the point of focus on Kerry and the man on the left is incorrect (Kerry is slightly blurry)

This doesn’t match with the background shadows as Kerry is out of focus and yet his shadow would suggest that he is far in front of "Mr. Satan."

Impossible? No. But not very likely.

Also, Kerry’s face shows that he his looking far down, to the right and seems to be a photo of him looking at someone who should be at the height of the man at the lefts’ neck tie.

Think about this: Look at the man on the left. He is obviously posing for the camera. The article says it is his fundraising event. If the man on the left is posing for the camera, then why wouldn’t Kerry be looking at the camera too? Minor point ….

Fine. Either way, that would obviously mean that this photo was taken by a professional photographer.

Pro photographers (I know tons of them) probably do take photos with people out of focus in them. But they would never allow you or me to see them.

Also, it is doubtful that the editor of this “newspaper” would allow for such shoddy work to be published.

Both editor and photographer have to eat, so they do not allow for such poor work to be released — Their names and reputations become involved.

Also! This is a “page continued” section of the article, which would make it even more unlikely that a photo, which is not critical to the basic story (which we can assume is about a fundraising event), would be used in the first place.

And here is a more "scientific" analysis by a former professional photographer (me):

The photo of the man at the left was taken by a 35- or 52-millimeter lens. Kerry’s photo was taken by a camera with a telephoto lens (possibly a 170 to 230 mm) from a long distance — that’s why the “grain” of the photo for each man is different.

Kerry is “grainy” the man on the left is “fine” — This would also suggest that Kerry’s photo was taken with a high-speed film (200 to 400 ASA? Suitable for a telephoto use) and the man at the left was taken with 64 to 100 ASA film. Doesn’t sound like a lot. But to a pro it is huge.

Also the photo’s shadows would suggest a flash was used, which would make 64 to 100 ASA film appropriate.

I hate to get too technical, but here’s more:

High speed films (such as 200—400 ASA or more) are not used with a photo flash in the vast majority of cases. Why? Because of the speed of light. Cameras are synchronized so that the shutter must open and close at 1/60th of a second. This is why 25, 64, or max 100 ASA film is used for flash photography.

200—400 ASA (or less) film quite often requires a slower shutter speed as the film needs more time to “capture light” (That’s why it’s called “Slow film”).

Ever taken your idiot camera to a concert and took a flash photo from your nose bleed seats and wound up with a photo of the backs of the peoples heads that are sitting in front of you?

Think about it: The stage is lit up with dozens upon dozens of huge stage halogen lights… Your tiny little flash bulb could never reach a stage more than, say, 15 feet away. The flash and the camera shutter are synchronized to 1/60th of a second.

More evidence:


SECTION “A” — Who is standing in front of the other person? We can’t tell. But Kerry’s face suggests that he is looking back and to his lower right. I have already pointed out the obvious posing for the camera of the man at the left. This would suggest that Kerry would have known the picture was being taken and would have posed also.

Closer look:

A closer look shows a suspicious gray line running from the lower left to the middle of the right side (vertical) on this photo. This is odd and opposite of the “line of shadows” behind both men’s heads in the original photo.

Conclusion: Highly questionable. I would decide just from this, that this is a doctored photo.


There are “tell-tale” lines in the “B” section of this photo that suggest that Kerry’s photo was pasted onto a photo of the man to the left and then retouched — And NOT the other way around! There are almost amateurish “give-away” white lines running parallel to Kerry’s left shoulder:

Notice the lighter colored “fuzzy line” running above and parallel to Kerry’s shoulder all through this section all the way up to his neck area, where, all of a sudden there is a “Blur” spot. This is, in my opinion, a dead give-away of a fake photo.

Let’s look closer:

The yellow areas show the lighter lines. At the top left, near the neck of Kerry is a Blur spot that this artist used to try to cover an error. The error at the top left looks like a “smudge” here.

The red arrows show what looks like a “spray paint” tool used to “color correct” or “contrast correct” on a basic computer art software program.

Now let’s look at the original photo again: Considering all the evidence above, look at this photo. Does it look “real” to you? I am positive that this is a faked photograph. And, as such, this entire article is a fraud.

Now we come to the part that makes this sham article laughable!!!

Look at this! I want to ask you a question: Who would keep an entire newspaper like this from 22 years ago? No one, that’s who.

Ever have your photo in the newspaper? You cut out the photo or article that you were in. You didn’t keep the entire newspaper. Newspapers do not keep entire issues on hand. They use “Microfiche.” Microfiche is a photographic “chronicling” tool used by libraries and newspapers to keep evidence of past printing.

Which brings me to the next hilarious part of this faade: Notice that the page is folded over the year date at the top right. Oh sure!!!! One of the most critical parts of this so-called “proof” of Kerry hanging around with weirdos, and we cannot read the date (as if the person who copied this didn’t look at the copy and fix that folded section!) And on top of that, we are expected to believe that someone who actually kept an entire newspaper (in pristine condition, I might add) for 22 years. Actually copied or scanned it without making damn sure that the date didn’t show.

Why wouldn’t they show the date? Because anyone with even a little bit of knowledge of the law, would know that publishing a doctored photo like this would set you up for a possible “defamation of character” suit in court.

This “artist” (ahem….) purposely covered up the date because if it did show, then Kerry could sue the SF newspaper for slander, etc….

And finally!!! Throw this case out of court your honor! I should have been a lawyer!…

The date of this newspaper is Sunday, July 17, 1982. Uh, sorry guys. Pretty amateurish mistake. There was no Sunday, July 17, 1982!!! July 17 of 1982 was a Saturday!

Okay, let’s get a bit “retentive” for the George W. Bush crowd…. Suppose that the two in 1982 (at the top right, that is covered up) is not a “two”…. What number could it possibly be? A “one”? Doubtful, but I give the "Dubya-dudes" the benefit of the doubt…

Maybe that could be a 1 with a line at the bottom like this?

Sorry, nice try.

There was no Sunday, July 17, 1981!!! Either! July 17 of 1981 was a Friday!

This article is quite deficient and sloppy. It seems to be a relatively new creation made in an attempt to smear John Kerry.

Who could have any doubt about it?

Well, class that’s today’s lesson. Your homework is to continue to check out the above photo and alert me to any more “funny” parts by e-mail.

Also, for further studies, please continue to check out your local news for more fun and “interesting”…. Er,…. “news”….

And lastly, we don’t know who would make this fake. But we can probably guess that this person is hoping that George W. Bush gets re-elected for some reason. Or perhaps they do work for the current U.S. government or the CIA…

If so, no wonder we’re in the mess we’re in!

Well, I’m off on vacation now. I suppose there will soon be an opening at the CIA or something for someone who knows how to doctor documents and really fake people out.

Well, here I am.

Lew will gladly accept all your inquiries as to employment for yours truly.

Oh! And by the way, the cover of the book: "Smear Campaigns For Dummies" at the top of this article was made by me — all within 7 minutes time (including downloading fresh images off the Internet) for the purposes of proving to you how low grade and crappy this Kerry smear is. A junior high school kid could do a better job!

(Special thanks to my friend Thomas Chittum for sending me the above article. Tom writes some very hilarious articles of his own and he also writes as "Sgt. Skull.")

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