Altered Tapes, Forged Documents, Lost Credibility: Nothing New

By | September 5, 2019 | 2 Comments

If you don’t read the newspaper, you‘re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you‘re misinformed. ― Mark Twain

The clamor over fake news might lead one to believe the problem is of recent origin. It isn’t. The reiteration of the Ferguson, Missouri “Hands up, don’t shoot” myth by Democratic candidates Harris and Warren might lead one to think that political mythology is a recent invention. It isn’t.

Rodney King beating video.

Almost everyone in America, and millions the world over, saw the video of four Los Angeles Police officers beating Rodney King with batons. I saw the video scores of times on TV, before and during the trial of the four officers for using excessive force. Many people were surprised when three of the officers were acquitted, and the jury “hung” on the fourth. As a result, the city endured a week of bloody, destructive rioting.

King was repeatedly described as a black “motorist,” when in fact he was on parole for robbery and was driving recklessly over 100 miles per hour while drunk. But we all believed that the video we saw so often on TV was the whole video. It wasn’t. I happened to be off work during the trial of the officers, and I watched the live coverage.

Only then did I discover that all those times, the media were showing us only the last part of the video. At the trial, the whole tape was shown. Only then did I discover that the first part of the tape showed that King, who was well over 200 pounds and “buffed,” ran full-speed at one of the officers, and if the officer hadn’t skillfully hit King with the baton, King would have knocked him flat − and perhaps taken his baton or his pistol, at which point the officers would have had to shoot King. He was violently resisting arrest, which the media hid from the people.

Only because I happened to be home that day did I discover that we had been shown only part of the video, the part that showed King prone on the ground, being hit with batons. But we had not been shown the whole tape, which shows King attacking the officer. I have never talked to anyone, even well-informed persons, who knew this. It’s too bad our government can’t keep secrets that well.

We will never know how many of the 53 people killed during the Los Angeles riots of 1992, and how much of the billions in damage, were the result of this doctored video the media used to stir up emotions. But I believe that somewhere there is a large ledger, and that ultimately we all will have to answer for the negative entries against our names. Those who doctored the video and then showed it incessantly have much to answer for.

George W. Bush’s military records.

Dan Rather’s CBS “news” story broke during the 2004 election season. A key point was a letter, supposedly from George W. Bush’s commanding officer in the Texas Air National Guard. The letter stated that Bush had been absent for large portions of the service he claimed to have performed.

It soon became obvious that the letter was not written on a typewriter, but on a modern computer and printer. The font was Times New Roman, which was not offered on old typewriters. The letters were “proportional,” that is, m was wider than n, which was wider than i. On a typewriter, each letter takes up exactly the same width.

Moreover, the letters were “kerned,” that is, nested together − for example, fl, not f l as they would have appeared on a typewriter. In addition, quotation marks and apostrophes were “smart,” not “plain” as they would have appeared on a typewriter, and 187th was written as the superscript 187th, which was not available on a typewriter.

CBS “verified” the documents by interviewing the 86-year-old woman who had been the secretary for the supposed author, now conveniently dead, and for several others as well. She stated that she never typed those documents, but she recalled typing similar ones 32 years earlier. In short, we had dubious copies of nonexistent documents not typed by the secretary of a dead man. This gave “verify” a whole new meaning.

When this deception was revealed, Rather insisted that the letter was “forged but accurate.” Apparently Rather meant that it accurately reflected his own preconceptions about Bush. This is the viewpoint of a propagandist, not that of a reporter. Rather “retired,” but did the media learn anything about altering evidence? Did liberals learn anything about the credibility of the media? Not really.

George Zimmerman’s 911 call.

Look at the transcript of the actual tape of George Zimmerman’s 911 call:

Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.

911 Operator: Okay, and this guy, is he black, white, or Hispanic?

Zimmerman: He looks black.

Now look at the transcript of the tape NBC played on TV “news”:

Zimmernan: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.

Clearly, the implication is that Zimmerman is a racist who sees a man as suspicious just because he’s black. But in fact, Zimmerman mentioned the person’s race only after the 911 operator asked about it. This is a half-truth that gives a false impression ‒ the worst kind of lie.

This lie, and the slanted media coverage that goes with it, created the expectation that Zimmerman would be convicted of murder. But the jury concluded that Zimmerman acted in self-defense.

More social unrest was stirred up. And of course, there were more eye-catching stories to cover on TV, thus increasing ratings. There were more exciting stories for newspapers to cover, thus buoying up sagging readership.

In answer to the tape scandal, NBC promised an “internal investigation.” I didn’t know it was possible to perform a colonoscopy on oneself.

The obvious problem with those who alter tapes and forge documents is the problem with all liars − they cause us to believe falsehoods. The less obvious problem is that they cause us to doubt the truth. When proven liars say something we thought was true, we begin to doubt it.

A smart man only believes half of what he hears; a wise man knows which half. – Jeff Cooper, Marine, firearms authority

There is an old saying that if a clock strikes 13, it casts doubt not only on that, but on everything that went before. If a person, or a “news” organization, alters audio and video tapes and forges documents, their credibility is shot. How can we know what to believe in all their other “news” stories? How can we know if these reports are really news, or just stories?

The mainstream media didn’t lose their credibility − they killed it. It’s dead, muerto, kaput. It is long past time for us to hold a wake and get on with our lives.

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