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September 14, 2004

Rather's "Expert" Wrong about 1's, Part 2: Flat-Topped Ones Just an Artifact of Faxing

I should say that I was actually slightly troubled by the "1's" in the forged documents. To be fair to Rather, it became clear to me when looking at Corante's blown-up images that the 1's actually don't look quite like Times New Roman 1's. They seem to have a flat, 90-degree-angle serif at the top, not the angled blade that Times New Roman 1's have.

I didn't realize that faxing or copying documents can turn angled-blades into flat-tops pretty easily.

Dead Parrots has a .gif of a faxed, typeset page. The page isn't actually in Times New Roman font, but the 1's are Roman-looking, with their angled, bladelike tops.

You can see that some of the 1's remain Roman-looking ones-- angled blade-tops intact -- but others are transformed into flat-topped crude-looking things just like in the Rather forgeries.

In fact, something that had been bothering me -- the indented, concave bottoms on the forgery 1's -- also shows up on faxed one's.

Thus, contra Dan Rather's typewriter repairman/"software expert," it's not true that such 1's are only available on old-style typewriters. Not only are they readily available on all MS Word systems through the Courier font, but they are "available" in any document which has been faxed. The process of faxing makes blade-tops into flat-tops.

The old-style 1's that Rather puts so much stock in are simply an artifact of the faxing process.

Beyond the Jump: In the "continue reading this post" section is my original argument that such flat-topped 1's could be easily created using the Courier font on MS Word. That's still true-- you can do that.

But Dead Parrot's tip tells me that one needn't go to all that fuss in the first place. One just needs to run the document through the fax-- blades to flat-tops upon transmission.

If you're trying this at home, Eric Pobris says you should use a typical fax of 200 dpi quality or thereabouts. He says even cheap scanners will produce very clear facsimilies, which doesn't seem to be the effect the forger was after.

Distributed intelligence strikes again. From off the cuff speculation to correction (with visual proof) in just twenty seconds.


Original Update Follows:

I should say that I am actually slightly troubled by the "1's" in the forged documents. To be fair to Rather, the 1's actually don't look quite like Times New Roman 1's. They seem to have a flat, 90-degree-angle serif at the top, not the angled blade that Times New Roman 1's have.

But then-- the Roman font that Rather claims the rest of the document was typed in features angled blades like Times New Roman, and unlike the 1's in the forgeries.

There's an easy explanation for this. Contra Rather's expert, such 1's are readily available in MS Word. You just have to change the font for those characters (and use Lower-case L's instead of 1's for effect), a process which takes, oh, half a second.

Like so:

111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron

becomes

lllth Fighter Interceptor Squadron

One could argue here that the forger "wouldn't go to this trouble." But that's a ridiculous argument. He's obviously going to some trouble to craft the forgeries and (badly) forge someone's signature; he could take the l second of his time to realize that Times New Roman 1's don't look like typewriter 1's, and thus change them to Courier l's (actually, lower-case "L's" instead of 1's).

Again, this is a l-second process.

If the argument is that this is "too difficult" -- which is laughable -- one can respond that it is far more difficult to switch typewriters in the middle of a document to get 1's that look more like Courier l's (rather than the thin blades that Roman font provides) and then switch back to the Selectric Composer to finish the document.

Actually, I do think the blogosphere has to adjust its theory of the crime on this point. Unless Little Green Footballs or someone else can tell me that on some versions of MS Word that 1's look like Courier lower-case L's, I think we have to start saying not that the entire document was printed in Times New Roman, but that the entire non-numerical text of the document was, with most or all of the 1's actually being Courier lower-case "L's" in order to somewhat mimic old-style typewriters.

digg this
posted by Ace at 02:39 PM

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