Friday, February 24, 2006

CBS Fakes it again

The network of Dan Rather has proved again they can't be trusted.

Tigerhawk has the story here.

This time, they changed the front page of a newspaper from how it was printed. (CBS has apologized this time.) The story was about Ryan Ferguson, who murdered Columbia Tribune Sports Editor Kent Heitholt. CBS seemed to be spinning the story of Ferguson as being wrongly convicted. (Imagine that.) The piece showed the front page of the Columbia Tribune. CBS reproduced the Tribunes' front page using an image of him wearing a suit and tie, apparently to make him more innocent looking, to match the spin. The real front page had an image of Ferguson in an orange prison jumpsuit.

This episode isn't near as serious as the faked (not forged - faked) documents they ginned up last election.

But this seems to match the template of making the story fit their agenda. Remember the Chevy pickup story? NBC's Dateline used model rocket engines to make sure the pickups caught fire in a crash.

Manipulating images isn't new, but it is getting easier every day. I do it all the time on pictures I take - removing a zit, or dust, or power lines. I don't take pictures that are presented as news.

This in and of itself doesn't seem like much - and I don't think changing things like contrast or light levels or color balance in a picture is a big deal, as a rule. But to change the content of a photograph, to match your story, is absolutely scary. It is now possible to produce an absolutely fake photograph, and it has been possible for a while. Anyone with basic Photoshop skills can change major elements of a photograph with very little effort. The temptation to create the shot that makes your story is probably pretty strong.

When you are willing to fake the small stuff, faking the big stuff is just a small step away. (Granted, CBS has already proved that.)

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