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Tags media criticism , photoshopping , reuters , Reuters incidents

View Poll Results: Is the Photo Photoshopped?
Yes, looks faked 83 77.57%
No, looks real 10 9.35%
Can't tell 9 8.41%
On planet X and the ME, fake is real. 5 4.67%
Voters: 107. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 5th August 2006, 05:26 PM   #1
Rob Lister
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Fake or Real...you decide

Here's photo that I am clearly posting under fair use.

Fake or Real, you decide.
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File Type: jpg 20060805BeirutPhotoshop.jpg (22.4 KB, 206 views)
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Old 5th August 2006, 06:21 PM   #2
Foster Zygote
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The repeating circular pattern in the smoke looks hinky to me.

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Old 5th August 2006, 06:28 PM   #3
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The standards of journalism in general are declining, as staff are cut to boost profits and cut costs.
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Old 5th August 2006, 06:28 PM   #4
Rob Lister
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Originally Posted by Foster Zygote View Post
The repeating circular pattern in the smoke looks hinky to me.

Steven
Indeed.

Wanna see something even more kinky?

Check out the second photo here

Last edited by Rob Lister; 5th August 2006 at 06:31 PM.
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Old 5th August 2006, 07:21 PM   #5
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At the risk of sounding open-minded, I'm going to point out that this sort of thing is impossible to eyeball. The very nature of digital imagery will cause distortion to occur: the image is made up of pixels. Something rounded in nature will be squared up by a computer for display. Try copying that picture, then magnifying it. The apparently identical "swirliness" becomes significantly less identical on a larger view. (And I dimly recall there being some sort of work in the field of psychology on the habit of human beings to see patterns in things that might not have them.)

And finally, you're asking for a judgment of thumbnail of an image that is how many generations off the original? Was this originally taken by a regular camera or a video camera? Digitial, or not? How was that original image put on the internet? Via scanning? Direct download? Through what programs? Any given image online has already been through the electronic equivalent of the old game "Telephone"...and you think you can just look at it and make a sound judgment?
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Old 5th August 2006, 08:41 PM   #6
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It's not just the smoke, TM. The buidings and other clutter are repeated, too. Definitely shopped. I liked this comment from LGF, though:

"It is really 888, the number of the post-Modern not-anti-Christ hidden in the smoke." --Iron Fist
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Old 5th August 2006, 08:41 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
Any given image online has already been through the electronic equivalent of the old game "Telephone"...and you think you can just look at it and make a sound judgment?
I think the point is that it actually is the photo published by Reuters itself.

Quote:
Try copying that picture, then magnifying it. The apparently identical "swirliness" becomes significantly less identical on a larger view.
Here is a nice exercise for you: fire up your favourite photo editing program. I use Photoshop, so yours may work a bit differently.

Make a rectangular selection around the middle "8" in the smoke. Copy it, and paste it on a new layer (Photoshop will probably make a new layer automatically) on top of it. Invert (make negative) this layer. Now set the opacity of this layer to 50%. Because you have a negative and a positive of the same thing shining through, you get an even grey rectangle. By putting a negative on top of a positive, only the differences show up, and now there aren't any so everything is grey. Now move the layer over to the 8 on the left. You will find that with a little effort you can make the negative of the middle 8 fit the left 8 almost perfectly and get an almost perfectly grey rectangle again. There is absolutely now way it would fit that well if these things were not originally the same image. The middle 8 fits almost as well on the right 8.

There is no perfect fit, you will see some static in the grey square if you put them on one of the other 8s, but the differences seem to me to be entirely consistent with typical clone tool behaviour and JPG compression. Reuters has more photos and I'm pretty sure most of those also underwent some serious editing and retouching, but none are so blatantly -- and badly -- photoshopped as that. I'm not even convinced any of the smoke is real, it is pretty easy to fake smoke like that in Photoshop.
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Old 5th August 2006, 08:58 PM   #8
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I'm going with the repeated patterns being an artifact of bad compression/decompression or similar phenomena, as opposed to actual doctoring of the photo to deliberately alter the contents and mislead the viewer. Possibly even some weird refraction phenomenon in the camera lens.

I'm doing that because if it is doctored, it is incredibly, badly, horribly doctored. It looks very much unreal. Moreover, there's no need to fake the photograph. Does anyone doubt that the scene is at least somewhat similar to what's really happening? Does anyone doubt that buildings are really being bombed in Beirut, and that smoke is rising there? Why bother faking it?

So, I have two alternatives. Someone did a horrible job in faking a non newsworthy photograph, or there's some weird digital photography pattern I don't understand that gives rise to apparent repetition in a duplicate, even when there was none in the original scene. I'd like to think that people doctoring photos gave us more credit than that.
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Old 5th August 2006, 10:52 PM   #9
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The honeycomb pattern makes me think it is Fuji camera digital oversampling.
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Old 6th August 2006, 12:54 AM   #10
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I'm quite good with photoshop, while it does look like a possible photoshop... one thing I'd point out is the very top of the image where there are faint lines like a bad print job or something? I've found that often occurs when a picture has been taken too fast with a digital camera and couple possible explain the other duplications in the photo.

I wouldn't be too quick to imply any malice.
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Old 6th August 2006, 05:21 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by TheChadd View Post
I'm quite good with photoshop, while it does look like a possible photoshop... one thing I'd point out is the very top of the image where there are faint lines like a bad print job or something? I've found that often occurs when a picture has been taken too fast with a digital camera and couple possible explain the other duplications in the photo.

I wouldn't be too quick to imply any malice.
I would. I work with Photoshop all day at my job as a retoucher, as well as with my personal Photoshop paintings. This is definitely someone willfully altering the image, and badly at that.

That's the great thing about Photoshop: they give you so much rope to hang yourself with.

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Last edited by coalesce; 6th August 2006 at 05:43 AM.
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Old 6th August 2006, 05:30 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
I'm doing that because if it is doctored, it is incredibly, badly, horribly doctored. It looks very much unreal.
Exactly. If someone was going to fake a photograph, it would look more real.

Unless they're either very stupid, or very clever.
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Old 6th August 2006, 05:30 AM   #13
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To me it's more the fact that it is so bad that makes me think it's not a willful alteration. Along with the fact that it wouldn't be too hard for him to actually get pictures of the smoke like that.
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Old 6th August 2006, 05:32 AM   #14
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100% photoshop. The repeating patterns in the smoke are too uniform to be real beyond all doubt.

The person who created the image used the "clone stamp tool" to make the smoke larger than it was originally.
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Old 6th August 2006, 05:33 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Earthborn View Post
Make a rectangular selection around the middle "8" in the smoke. Copy it, and paste it on a new layer (Photoshop will probably make a new layer automatically) on top of it. Invert (make negative) this layer. Now set the opacity of this layer to 50%. Because you have a negative and a positive of the same thing shining through, you get an even grey rectangle. By putting a negative on top of a positive, only the differences show up, and now there aren't any so everything is grey. Now move the layer over to the 8 on the left. You will find that with a little effort you can make the negative of the middle 8 fit the left 8 almost perfectly and get an almost perfectly grey rectangle again. There is absolutely now way it would fit that well if these things were not originally the same image. The middle 8 fits almost as well on the right 8.
Some of us don't have Photoshop.


Quote:
There is no perfect fit, you will see some static in the grey square if you put them on one of the other 8s, but the differences seem to me to be entirely consistent with typical clone tool behaviour and JPG compression.
Wait, so you accept the similarities as evidence of fakery, but dismiss the differences as natural computer behavior?
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Old 6th August 2006, 06:24 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
Wait, so you accept the similarities as evidence of fakery, but dismiss the differences as natural computer behavior?
I've been using Photoshop for almost 10 years and I know exactly what he's talking about. The clone stamp tool will copy an area exactly, but in most cases, it's best to use it with a "paintbrush" that has soft edges or to use it at less than 100% opacity. Either of those will cause slight changes in the pixels due to the underlying picture.
That smoke doesn't just look unnatural or touched-up, it looks EXACTLY like what would happen if someone was unskilled with the clone stamp. The effect you can see in the picture is what you have to work to avoid when cloning large areas.
Obviously I wasn't present when the photo was taken so I can't be completely sure that it was altered but I think that it's way more likely than not that it was.
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Old 6th August 2006, 06:27 AM   #17
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[aside that nobody's probably going to be interested in]

Incidentally, my old philosophy professor would have been greatly amused that anyone would debate the reality of an image. By its nature, an image is explicitly unreal. Consider:

The Thing Itself: there is the smoke (or the sky where there isn't any smoke)
First Interpretation: light from the sun bounces off the smoke
Second Interpretation: the human eye gathers that light
Third Interpretation: the brain interprets the eye's signals
Fourth Interpretation: The human thinks about the information the brain presents
Fifth Interpretation: The human speaks of what he sees

By talking about something seen in an image, we're already at the minimum five interpretations away from the thing itself. And when you add a computer into the mix, you get a lot more steps. There's a mechanical eye for step three, and a series of programs for interpreting the data, and formatting it for display. There are different devices to display the results of those programs, and other programs to store those results and send them to other programs and machines. We're not all using the same monitors, or the same browser, are we? Any more than we're using the same eyes or the same brain cells. We can look at that image all we want, but we're not seeing the same thing. And nobody's seeing what the camera saw, they're seeing whatever everything along the entire chain thinks the camera saw. And in every interpretation, errors creep in.

[/aside]
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Old 6th August 2006, 06:50 AM   #18
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There do now exist tools developed to determine with a fairly high degree of confidense if an image has been digitally altered. What the algorithm is, I have no clue. Have any of these tools been made publicly availabe that we can use against this picture?

Aaron
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Old 6th August 2006, 07:00 AM   #19
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Fake. Even the building under the smoke has been copied.
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Old 6th August 2006, 07:09 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by mumchup View Post
I've been using Photoshop for almost 10 years and I know exactly what he's talking about. The clone stamp tool will copy an area exactly, but in most cases, it's best to use it with a "paintbrush" that has soft edges or to use it at less than 100% opacity. Either of those will cause slight changes in the pixels due to the underlying picture.
I too have been using Photoshop for years and after a few years anyone who uses Photoshop knows the tell-tale signs of the clone-stamp tool.

Infact anyone who uses Photoshop frequently tries hard not to have the tell-tale signs of the clone-stamp tool when they are using the clone-stamp tool. Why? Specifically because it looks too uniform - too "cloned" if you will - as these plumes of smoke do.
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Old 6th August 2006, 07:09 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Ladewig View Post
Fake. Even the building under the smoke has been copied.
Has it? Or is the city in question just repetitive in architecture?
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Old 6th August 2006, 08:54 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
Has it? Or is the city in question just repetitive in architecture?
Well, Tragic. You and a few others are official members of the "I'll believe anything" club.

Well, A_U_P's arch enemy LGF does it yet again. Brings the fraud to light.

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7...286966,00.html
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File Type: jpg r3607862130-thumb.jpg (62.8 KB, 48 views)

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Old 6th August 2006, 09:24 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Rob Lister View Post
Well, Tragic. You and a few others are official members of the "I'll believe anything" club.
Oh, whatever. I was merely pointing out that deciding "real or fake" of a photo on the internet requires more than just armchair "OMG! IT'S TEH FAKE!!!!" sort of analysis. I should have realized this had something to do with that most boring of topics, Israel and Palestine, and left you to flog whichever dead horse you have in that tedious race.
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Old 6th August 2006, 09:36 AM   #24
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Clearly some photos are so very fake that an 'armchair' critic and do just that...correctly.

Reuters got played, useful idiots that they are.
You too got played, but there's no reason to suspect you should have know better.
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Old 6th August 2006, 09:37 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by Rob Lister View Post
Well, Tragic. You and a few others are official members of the "I'll believe anything" club.
Yup. Your link is pretty damned conclusive. The cloning was blatantly obvious, and "keeping an open mind" about it was nothing of the sort: it was purely an effort to deny the obvious. Here's the replacement photo:


If this one's a fake, I can't tell, but it looks real to me. But the first one? You've got to be an imbecile to think that repetitive pattern in the smoke was anything other than the result of a crude cut-and-paste job.
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Old 6th August 2006, 09:40 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
I should have realized this had something to do with that most boring of topics, Israel and Palestine, and left you to flog whichever dead horse you have in that tedious race.
Um, it's Israel and Lebanon, not Israel and Palestine. And the integrity of a major news wire service has relevance well beyond this conflict. Do you have a horse in that race? Or does it just not matter to you when the information source that so many people rely upon cannot be trusted?
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Old 6th August 2006, 09:45 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
Um, it's Israel and Lebanon, not Israel and Palestine.
Which all goes back, inevitably, to Israel and Palestine. At least on this board, it does.

Quote:
And the integrity of a major news wire service has relevance well beyond this conflict. Do you have a horse in that race? Or does it just not matter to you when the information source that so many people rely upon cannot be trusted?
Oh, I don't trust a lot of things. I'm not about to tell other people what they should or shouldn't trust. I just wish they'd think a little about the things they're trusting or not trusting. Beyond just "real!" and "fake!"
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Old 6th August 2006, 09:46 AM   #28
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So, conspiracy or cock up?

There's no way such a blatant forgery should have got past a half decent photo editor, certainly as it came from the same source as the contested Qana imagery.

Mr Hajj is almost certainly a Muslim, and while that does not preclude him having a neutral position it is certainly something to consider, given the loyalty to your coreligionists that is demanded by the Quran.

At the same time, photojournalism is a competitive business and the pressure to produce the ultimate "dead baby held up against the background of an expanding mushroom cloud" photograph to sate the crude emotive requirements of the media must be strong.

The fact it is such a bad forgery also raises some questions. There are some dodgy looking patches in some of his earlier photographs, but nothing quite as crudely obvious as that photo.

This is probably nothing but an episode in sophistry, Reuters will effectively cover their arses again (hey, they managed to shrug off death threats being sent to Charles Johnson from the office where the Media Relations guy from the MCB works..).

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Old 6th August 2006, 10:00 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
Which all goes back, inevitably, to Israel and Palestine. At least on this board, it does.
Yes. But that was thanks to YOU this time.
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Old 6th August 2006, 10:05 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by RyanRoberts View Post
So, conspiracy or cock up?
My guess is a cockup made possible by bias. They should KNOW that their locally-hired stringers need to be watched carefully. But they don't watch their output carefully, but just accept it without any real oversight. Conspiracy? Probably not on the part of Reuters - if it was a conspiracy I would expect them to have done a better job with the forgery. But that shouldn't get them off the hook either: they need to do a lot more than just fire that photographer to make up for this.
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Old 6th August 2006, 10:07 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey
Some of us don't have Photoshop.
Most people do have some photo-editing software.

Quote:
Wait, so you accept the similarities as evidence of fakery, but dismiss the differences as natural computer behavior?
Yes, because there is a big difference between differences because of computer behaviour and differences because of having different pictures.

Quote:
Oh, whatever. I was merely pointing out that deciding "real or fake" of a photo on the internet requires more than just armchair "OMG! IT'S TEH FAKE!!!!" sort of analysis.
You are absolutely right about that. For a lot of photos it simply is not possible to determine whether it is fake or real by armchair photo-analysts. For example I still see no reason to question the validity of the other photos by this photographer, even though some people see in this proof that he is untrustworthy. The way I see it, one overenthusiastic use of the clone tool is one thing. But getting a few dozen people to help stage photos involving dead children is quite another, and you can't prove that by pointing out such trivial 'inconsistencies' as "oh, no! This looks like it's on a different place" or "In one photo he's wearing an orange jacket and in another he's not."
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Old 6th August 2006, 11:50 AM   #32
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Heh. You all got so wrapped up in the hoax that you missed the real significance of the photo. The image of Satan appears in the right-hand plume. It's true!

ETA: I just noticed even the horns are there.
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Old 6th August 2006, 11:57 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
Has it? Or is the city in question just repetitive in architecture?

I would consider that a possibility if not for the building under the 888 having the exact same dimensions (overall height, floor height, width). The only way that could happen if the building that is further away from the camera has the exact proportions increased by ~30%: not very likely.
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Old 6th August 2006, 12:02 PM   #34
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FWIW, I just hacked the JREF polling software, and it seems that two of the people who believe the photo is authentic are Mary Mapes and Dan Rather. It's true!
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Old 6th August 2006, 12:32 PM   #35
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Who knows? Another possibility is that the photo Rob posted is a real one that was smeared around to look like it was faked.

The version on LGF looks much more normal than the copy posted here.

I am supposed to believe that a bunch of journalist hacks are sitting in the middle of a war zone photoshopping fake burning buildings while real ones were burning outside.

MSNBC has quite an array of photos today.
Nobody needs boring pictures of a smoking building when there are comparison satellite photos of almost an entire city block leveled in Beruit. Or the flash of an apartment complex going up in a huge fireball.

Can't do any analysis at all on a 25k image. There is too little of the original left. Sounds a little too much like conspiracy theory stuff. Except for BPSCG's face sample, man I can see that clear as day.
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Old 6th August 2006, 12:33 PM   #36
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Located:

The actual original (source) version:

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Old 6th August 2006, 12:39 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by Kopji View Post
I am supposed to believe that a bunch of journalist hacks are sitting in the middle of a war zone photoshopping fake burning buildings while real ones were burning outside.
Amazing isnt it?

You don't have to believe it. Your belief doesnt effect the reality. It is precisely what those hacks apparently did.
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Old 6th August 2006, 12:57 PM   #38
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I don't get it. Why bother? This is very disturbing.

This is the second time something like this has happened to me. When Rathergate got started, I asserted that the documents couldn't be forgeries, because they weren't worth forging.

I guess I don't understand the mind of someone who thinks these things are all that important. The Israeli Air Force is dropping bombs and missiles. Why fake it?
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Old 6th August 2006, 01:06 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
I don't get it. Why bother? This is very disturbing.

This is the second time something like this has happened to me. When Rathergate got started, I asserted that the documents couldn't be forgeries, because they weren't worth forging.

I guess I don't understand the mind of someone who thinks these things are all that important. The Israeli Air Force is dropping bombs and missiles. Why fake it?
I'll leave you with that quandry. Rest well on it.
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Old 6th August 2006, 01:18 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by rockoon View Post
Amazing isnt it?

You don't have to believe it. Your belief doesnt effect the reality. It is precisely what those hacks apparently did.
I missed the evidence on that one, can you point me?
thanks
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