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Sunday, September 12, 2004

Rathergate docs "forgeries," says computer science PhD Newcomer

Joseph M. Newcomer has an incredible curriculum vitae that includes fabulous experience specifically on fonts, typefaces, and the like.  His business, FlounderCraft Ltd.,

provides consulting, training, and development of Windows NT/2000/XP-based and Windows 95/98/Me applications. Specialties include GUI design, system architecture and control interfaces for embedded systems, and device drivers. FlounderCraft Ltd. and its predecessor, The Joseph M. Newcomer Co., has been providing technical consulting services since 1972. In 2002, he incorporated as FlounderCraft Ltd. 

Dr. Newcomer received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from Carnegie-Mellon University, and spent several years on the CMU CS faculty. He was a founding scientist of the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) at CMU. He has over 40 years of experience in developing commercial, industrial, and research applications.

On his own website — it doesn't appear that he's a pajama-wearing blogger, by the way — Dr. Newcomer has posted a fabulous article that is  heavy with graphics and illustrations, and written in language that anyone who can manage to work a web browser should be able to follow.  Here's how he starts off:

... I am not a fan of George Bush. But I am even less a fan of attempts to commit fraud, and particularly by a complete and utter failure of those we entrust to ensure that if the news is at least accurate. I know it is asking far too much to expect the news to be unbiased. But the people involved should not actually lie to us, or promulgate lies created by hoaxers, through their own incompetence.

There has been a lot of activity on the Internet recently concerning the forged CBS documents. I do not even dignify this statement with the traditional weasel-word "alleged," because it takes approximately 30 seconds for anyone who is knowledgeable in the history of electronic document production to recognize this whole collection is certainly a forgery, and approximately five minutes to prove to anyone technically competent that the documents are a forgery.

Can you put the probabilities in percentage terms for us, Dr. Newcomer?

The probability that any technology in existence in 1972 would be capable of producing a document that is nearly pixel-compatible with Microsoft’s Times New Roman font and the formatting of Microsoft Word, and that such technology was in casual use at the Texas Air National Guard, is so vanishingly small as to be indistinguishable from zero.

He then proceeds to demolish each of the "defenses" offered by CBS News and Bush opponents as plausible explanations for how the CBS News documents could be authentic.  He knows his kerning and his Linotype and his TrueType and even a little Thirteenth Century philosophy.  Final conclusion — which he invites anyone to quote and rely upon (no shrinking violet, he):

All I can say is that the technology that produced this document was not possible in 1972 in the sort of equipment that would have been available outside publishing houses, and which required substantial training and expertise to use, and it replicates exactly the technologies of Microsoft Word and Microsoft TrueType Fonts.

It is therefore my expert opinion that these documents are modern forgeries.

Dan Rather ended his Friday evening defense of the "60 Minutes" broadcast with this arrogant claim-plus-a-promise:  "If any definitive evidence to the contrary of our story is found, we will report it. So far, there is none." 

Hey Dan — lemme introduce you to Dr. Newcomer.

Anyone who'd like to help me make the introduction can contact CBS News via this link.

(Hat-tip to reader Tom Mortensen, who picked this up the Newcomer URL from a post on the SwiftVets' Geedunk and Scuttlebutt (off-topic non-Kerry) forum.)

Posted by Beldar at 03:34 PM in Mainstream Media, Politics (2006 & earlier) | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to Rathergate docs "forgeries," says computer science PhD Newcomer and sent a trackback ping are listed here:

» Buzz On from La Shawn Barber's Corner

Tracked on Sep 12, 2004 5:41:32 PM

» Rather Obvious from Cabal of Doom

Tracked on Sep 12, 2004 6:34:16 PM


(1) Dan made the following comment | Sep 12, 2004 4:13:53 PM | Permalink

Um, okay. "Trying to re-focus eyes and clear my head."

That was quite a read. If his credentials are solid, I'd say this proves conclusively that the docs are forged. And, I'll add, while a tough read, he certainly does have a knack for making something highly technical and specialized at least reasonably clear and readable.

(2) rob made the following comment | Sep 12, 2004 4:55:34 PM | Permalink

Game, Set, Match, Tournament, Grand Slam.

I would imagine that his analysis would satisfy most judges and all juries but an "OJ Jury".

His point about Occam's Razor has been made by many (myself included), but bears reiteration for the jury of the public.

Combining this opinion from the computer typesetting side, Dr. Bouffard on the document examination side, the disavowals by the family and Hodges, and the identification of Bill Burkett as a serious candidate for the source of the documents brings the probability of forgery to asymptotically approach unity.

At the least, Rather and the entire 60 Minutes team that had anything to do with this have to go.

Further, until that happens, CBS should no longer be accredited to the White House or the government in any way.

(3) Lan Nguyen made the following comment | Sep 12, 2004 5:07:37 PM | Permalink

His credential is solid. I recognize his name right at the start (was wondering whether that's the same guy because high tech people are mostly shy away from politics or they have make so much money and no longer a geek) and I am aware of his works before the year of internet (and blogging).

(4) kevin whited made the following comment | Sep 12, 2004 5:26:11 PM | Permalink

Okay, the accumulated evidence seems conclusive.

Contacting CBS is useful, but do you think it's time for local bloggers to turn up the pressure on local affiliates also?

They're broadcasting the fool, so I'm thinking they might as well hear about it.

(5) Hitest made the following comment | Sep 12, 2004 5:34:21 PM | Permalink

Sent the following to CBS via link provided. Also added it to another e-mail to Sumner Redstone at Viacom.

I suggest you review the information posted at the following website.


Dr. Newcomber is an authoratative expert on computers, graphics, and is very knoweldegable regarding document technology of the early 1970's.

I believe you will find the proof you need at his site to establish beyond a shadow of a doubt (not just a preponderance of evidence) that the documents you used in your piece on Pres Bush are, in fact, forgeries.

I believe it is now incumbent upon Mr. Rather to release all the background documentation regarding this piece, allow an independent investigation of the process which generated this story, and REVEAL THE SOURCES FOR THIS LIKELY CRIMINAL FORGERY.

Most importantly, a public apology to Pres. Bush, the Killian family, and the public at large should be the lead item on the next evening news broadcast, and the next episode of 60 minutes.

Finally, given Mr. Rather's approach to the entire episode, he should resign.

(6) ieddyi made the following comment | Sep 12, 2004 5:34:23 PM | Permalink

I think a more persuasive tack is to compile a list of the largest CBS sponsors and start a leter writing campaign to them, You could be sure that the local and national offices would hear about it very quickly

(7) leon dixon made the following comment | Sep 12, 2004 5:34:48 PM | Permalink

That so many folks will come forward to contribute to the truth regardless of where the chips fall is quite remarkable. It doing that a core American Value? Is this what the best Americans do and does that give us a huge advantage in this world over those who cower and bend and scrape? Thanks for the link to CBS. I have suggested to them that they fire Dan, fire his boss, and decimate the remaining two or three times avoiding in the replacements any jason blairs and trying to find honest journalists(if any exist).

(8) Narniaman made the following comment | Sep 12, 2004 6:17:56 PM | Permalink

I think the best approach now would be for CBS to announce that they just discovered that Dan Rather has Alzheimer's Disease and is immediately being medically retired.

At least that approach would generate some sympathy for Rather and CBS. Of course, I'm not quite sure that ole Gunga Dan would enjoy living the rest of his days in an Alzheimer's care unit.

(9) YouGottaBeKidding made the following comment | Sep 12, 2004 6:28:23 PM | Permalink


You've misspelled Dr. Newcomer's name as "Newcomber" several times. I know you'll want to correct that!

(10) Beldar made the following comment | Sep 12, 2004 7:01:41 PM | Permalink

YouGotta — thanks for the typo alert! Fixed now, I hope — with footprints (via this comment) and a hearty mea culpa. (I genuinely, genuinely appreciate people pointing out such typos to me via comments and/or emails!)

Now, Gunga Dan, it's your turn!

(11) Dale Franks made the following comment | Sep 12, 2004 7:28:53 PM | Permalink

I am a blogger, and I'm wearing pajamas at this very moment.

And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

(12) Random Numbers made the following comment | Sep 12, 2004 8:03:03 PM | Permalink

I had already pointed out the same thing Dr. Newcomer has in his article concerning the 111th.

I may have missed out on nomenclature, but I have freakin EYES!

(13) Joanne made the following comment | Sep 12, 2004 8:40:47 PM | Permalink

I just sent a long email to CBS (thanks for the suggestion) and also referenced Dr. Newcomer's URL, demanding an immediate retraction and on-air apology.

I'm not holding my breath, of course.

(14) David Gillies made the following comment | Sep 12, 2004 11:09:48 PM | Permalink

Not only could these so-called memos not have been created in the 1970's; they couldn't have been created in Microsoft Word itself until 1992, when Microsoft received the TrueType versions of Times New Roman from the Monotype corporation.

That there's a large number of heavyweight legal brains in the blogosphere is indisputable. There's also a large contingent of people with decades of experience in software engineering, typography and reprographics. I can't claim Dr. Newcomer's level of expertise, but I've been in this line of work for fifteen years getting paid for it, and twentyfive in all.

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