Rove photo fake artists and disinformation experts pose with Bush
As it turns out--in the Coptix-
hostedserviced Chattanooga Times Free-Press--Coptix reveals today that they faked the Rove photo originally posted on the Gidcumb's site. So, one of the fakers is posing with Bush in the photo above.
My concern was that the Rove photo was an April Fool's joke; too good to be true. Typically, however, April Fool's jokes take place on April 1 [and the light-hearted prank is revealed at the end of the day, not three days afterward]. So I checked other sites, checked the Google cache, checked the Chattanooga Times-Free Press on the Bush visit, and went with it.
What didn't--and perhaps should have--occurred to me was that three parties would cooperate in planting the disinformation.
First, Coptix themselves. They're looking pretty good right now, eh? (Actually, they'll probably get plenty of business from the wingers, now.) I do wonder how Karl Rove feels about having his photo faked. And I do wonder how Bush feels about having his photo taken, smiling, right next to fakers. (Probably nothing, but you never know.) Here's what Coptix has to say for themselves:
Mr. [Josiah] Roe [that would be the original commenter who planted the fake story in our comments section] said the company altered the photo and placed it on the Internet after bloggers implied that Coptix was involved in a "vast right-wing conspiracy" because the company -- along with another local firm, SmarTech -- provides an Internet service for the Republican National Committee.
I'm not sure I understand Roe's logic here--to prove you're not part of a conspiracy, you plant disinformation? This seems a particularly odd strategy in this context, since Rove is well known for planting disinformation. One might almost think that Roe was part of a Rovian ploy that aborted. If one was foily.
Mr. Roe said his firm altered the photograph as a humorous way to get exposure for Coptix.
Well, he's certainly ended up getting exposure. And good luck to him. The wingers have lots of money, so I imagine this will work out quite well for him. As Carol Darr says:
Carol Darr, director of George Washington University's Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Internet, said the doctored image is really a "dirty trick."
"You're putting something out there that is deliberately deceptive (and) ... you know that people who are in on the joke will catch the significance," said Ms. Darr, 55. "It is just simply a lie."
Now for the Gidcumbs, on whose site the disinformation was planted once Coptix had PhotoShopped it. Here's what they have to say for themselves:
Though, there seems to be a lot of speculation that my whole blog was part of the grand scheme, but in reality the only thing on this entire blog which was changed for the practical joke was the one Karl Rove image.
Right. "The one thing," which was the only essential part he had to play in the scheme. I'm glad the whole fucking site wasn't a Potemkin village, what with all the cute babies, 'n' stuff. Of course, if the site suddenly goes dark, we'll know Gidcumb, like Coptix, is lying. Give Gidcumb credit, though, he sounds like he's trying to back off from the part he played, possibly through a (vestigial?) sense of shame. (I wish they'd get their stories straight. Roe says he's angry about being part of a conspiracy he faked photos to prove he wasn't part of, but Gidcumb says it's just a practical joke. [When stories shift, you know you're dealing with Republicans and liars. Sorry for the redundancy.])
And the third party, that planted the link to the Gidcumbs in a post dated February 27 is one "irresponsible journalism." So, either IJ backdated the post as part of the disinformation campaign, or the date's right, and the disinformation ploy's been in the works since February. Some practical joke.
Oh, and the Coptix-
hostedserviced Free Press gives the third of our disinformation artists free advertising an Op-Ed, where he explains the whole thing as an experiment in meme propagation. How conv-e-e-e-n-i-ent. (Again, I wish they'd get their stories straight.)
Real life is calling, and I don't have time to finish this post. But--
I apologize for not being skeptical enough.
And I also apologize for polluting the discourse by being taken in by a Rovian disinformation ploy. The handwriting is exactly the same as in the Killian case, where papers that seems to confirm a pre-existing and well-proven story on Bush's military "service" surfaced, were picked up by the press, and then discredited. The network was discredited, the anchor was discredited, and, worse of all, entire story was discredited, even though most of it was documented and well-attested. I fear that the same thing may happen here, and that the many questions about gwb43.com, and the research being done on the subject, will be discredited as well. It's hard to imagine that this is not the real object of the exercise, since all of the technical reasons for investigating the story remain. If that happens, I will have hurt the country and helped the people are who destroying the Constitution.
Most of all, I apologize to my blogmates for violating the cardinal rule, and making the blog look bad.
NOTE The Coptix line seems to be "All you had to do was call us." First, all Coptix had to was leave a message, at the end of April 1, that the post was a prank. They didn't do that. Second, I'm an old-school, anonymous blogger, like Publius in the Federalist Papers. I don't do phone calls.
NOTE I don't include Ron Ott in the indictment. There is, indeed, a giveaway, and after the story had taken off, the artist left a comment to that effect. I'm not an artist, and my eyes are old. I just missed it. Mea culpa.
UPDATE We get letters:
To: "Lambert Strether"
CC: "michelle mustonen"
Subject: The Rest of the Story, with Dr. Karl Haas
From: "Jeffrey Cross"
Date: Wed, 4 Apr 2007 01:03:18 -0400
Hi Lambert [and CD],
So now I'll give you "the rest of the story".
Basically, when people first started telling us that we were being mentioned in posts about GWB, I was a little worried - just a little - being in any way connected to anything political, much less conservative Republican political. Hence my initial post on Corrente and my responses to Michelle. I said nothing that wasn't true when I said we were not involved. I was a little miffed, then, that the folks who had originally implicated me and my company didn't really seem to be that interested in actually contacting me or Coptix to find out what our involvement was - Michelle herself pointed out that it wasn't really something she had been following, and then I see Xan & Lambert commenting about my post as if I was writing a cover-up. But I didn't really care all THAT much, truth be told.
HOWEVER, some of my guys at Coptix (who probably have Google alerts set up on our company name) caught wind of it, and said "hey, let's see where we can go with this". Once Ron came up with the idea of the Rove photo, I said "yeah right, nobody will fall for that, but whatever - have at it". I have to say I was astounded when sites picked up on it, especially given the Sleestaks he put on the TV screen.
By the time you emailed me Saturday, I was more or less sworn to secrecy, hence my evading your question with "I know, but I can't tell". What I knew was simply that the picture was Photoshopped. I still didn't tell you anything that wasn't true.
None of our folks have ever met Karl Rove, and I have a feeling none of them really want to. Gid(cumb) is somebody several of us know (Chattanooga isn't all that big, tech-wise, eh?), and he agreed to repost the image. He's actually a conservative, I think. At Coptix we have a few folks who are probably non-vocal conservatives (I'm guessing, but they're not vocal...), in contrast with a few who are very vocal liberals. Most of us are well-rounded independent thinkers. We all get along. Alice took about eight months off last year to agitate successively on three different (Democrat) campaigns. Jennie used to maintain gaychattanooga.com, which I would have used as another crazy non-hint, but she moved to Orlando to program video games and let the domain expire. I'm.... well, I'm still not going to say what my personal beliefs or politics are, mostly because I'm spread so thin across the spectrum that it would bore you.
Well, I could address a lot of other things: the name "trespassers-w.net"; the non-relationship with NextLec/ST3 (I was one of the few Net developers in Chatt that did NOT jump on that wagon); our conservative customer base (try running a biz in Chattavegas without conservative customers!); the name "Coptix"; etc. If you really want to know, hey, write me back, but most of these seem peripheral.
To be sure, I've been following the attorney scandal on NPR [my conservative friends say NPR is way liberal; you guys probably say they're way conservative; so my assumption is that they're within shooting distance of the center...] and if WH staff discussed this stuff over non-WH email servers, they should be reamed for it. Like impaled on a red-hot veggie kabob skewer. But COPTIX has nothing to do with it, whatsoever. BTW, the stuff I wrote Saturday about email being non-traceable was completely true. It amazes me how many people have commented about this topic, assuming that there is some way to get emails that were sent months ago. NO WAY! That is, unless the system was specially built for it, as I'm sure the WH internal servers are. I casually asked one of the SmarTechs the other day if they stored any email, and he said "are you kidding? like we have the storage for that!" Which is what I figured. Our mail servers (which again, do NOT have anything to do with this - we have our own, not shared with STC) log a record of messages going in and out for a couple of weeks, but that's all it is - just one line per message. Uh..... actually, that's just in. We don't log outbound at all, which is pretty normal.
One more bone to throw: there IS actually another company which would fit almost all of the things that were said about Coptix. They're in Chattanooga a mile or two from us. Two of the founding principals worked for Smartech until they all went to work for ST3; and then after ST3 imploded Averquacky re-started Smartech and the other guys started [...]. I think they do a lot for RNCHQ and otherwise a lot of sub work for ANG/STC - they're still buds. We talk to them once in a while but don't generally run in their circles, them being conservatives and all.... Check out http://episode49.com/solutions.aspx?T=Su... for the evidence - they're not hiding anything. I'm surprised nobody tracked this down - they use the same nameservers as GWB.
So wrapping this up, I expect you guys think we're completely soulless asses, and me telling you it's not true isn't necessarily going to change that. [Your comments about our portfolio were especially stinging to me; but I take comfort in the fact that our portfolio page is tuned for generating the type of work that appears on it: we do a lot of other work that's not necessarily on there.] The point of all this was (1) retribution for you apparently being more interested in digging up a scandal than finding the truth, (2) the kids wanna have fun (and 15 minutes of fame), and (3) the Internet is a place where you just can't be too careful about checking your sources. I think my favorite phrase this week is "ocular proof!"
A new Corrente reader...
If we have any readers left ("Reputation, reputation, reputation...) Four years of free work down the drain. For me, the moral of the story is not just never trust a Republican, but never trust anyone who does business with a Republican. Because, at the end of the day, the RNC is still paying money to these guys to host gwb43.com.
UPDATE [...] redacted at Jeffrey's request.
UPDATE The redaction correspondence from Jeffrey Cross who, interestingly, attended Covenant College. (I wonder if he knew Monica Goodling? Naah....)
Actually, if you would also redact the para about Smartech back to:
Coptix is a Smartech/Airnet customer - we have a co-lo rack at their facility - and they give us a discount on it in return for maintaining their secondary DNS on our backup server at Rackspace. This makes sense for both of us, so if there is some major facility problem (say all the lines into their building get cut at once) the sites that either of us host don't all disappear.
that would be good too. Again, probably not a huge deal, but I don't want JSA on my case if I said something that he wouldn't want public.
I do appreciate your asking me.
If you wouldn't mind redacting just the paragraph about [meta-redaction], I'm fine with it. They would probably be ok with it, but I don't want to find out after the fact that they're not. Thanks.
Cf Matthew 5:19. Not to mention Job 11:3-5.