KERRY CREATE HIS OWN URBAN LEGEND?
By Jon Christian Ryter
January 14, 2004
Almost two weeks ago, a photo popped up on the Internet that did not bode well for the Kerry Campaign. It was a damning photo on top of the patriotic commercials the Kerry Campaign had launched to make U.S. Navy lieutenant j.g. John Forbes Kerry look like a macho Chuck Norris marine-type grunt in a movie lot setting made to look like a Vietnamese jungle. In the photo, theoretically new anti-war inductee John Kerry (who is absolutely nothing like his JFK role model), was listening to anti-American poison spewed by communist agitators two rows behind movie actress Jane Fonda.
The photo, which was featured in World Net Daily, Newsmax.com, the Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times and hundreds of other newspapers across the United States and in Europe stopped the Kerry juggernaut cold for about five minutes. Howard Dean, who had pretty much decided to bow out of the race for the Democratic nomination if he did not have a good showing in Wisconsin, decided he would--not just yet--concede to the front runner. North Carolina Senator John Edwards also saw hope for his own lagging campaign. Did John Kerry have an Achilles Heel--and had it been exposed?
When the photo surfaced, the Kerry Campaign's dirty tricks division (known by the rest of us as the Democratic National Committee) began an intensified attack on President George W. Bush's National Guard record to divert the media from his anti-American, anti-war activity that belied the patriotism displayed in his campaign commercials. That single photo led to the creation of a Kerry bumper sticker that cannot help but impact Kerry's appeal not only to veterans who are proud of their
service to their nation, but to the men and woman currently serving both in Stateside safe billets and those in harm's way around the world as well. And no one knows that better than John Forbes Kerry.
Last week, a new Kerry photo popped up on the Internet. No one knows where it came from. It was contained in what appears to be a news blurb that was ostensibly torn from an unidentified newspaper. It appears to have been spoon-fed into the conservative conspiracy stream through one or more e-mail newsletters and websites. The new photo was more damning than the first one since, in this photo, Kerry was sitting next to Jane Fonda on a stage as she spoke to an audience just out of the photo frame that was purported, from the caption, to be the Vietnam Veterans Against War. The caption of the article, purported to be from a 1970s clipping, identified Kerry by name. It had that "genuine" look to it--particularly if you wanted to believe it was an authentic piece of history. Those who received it did not question it. They uploaded it into a new e-mail and fired it off to those on their e-mail lists, and within 24 hours, millions of Americans were looking at it.
The only problem was, the news clipping itself was fake. I received it from someone on my e-mail list. I glanced at the clipping. There was something about it that just didn't feel right, so I filed it for closer scrutiny over the weekend. The next morning (Sunday) I received another e-mail from the source that sent the precious clipping. This e-mail contained a link to Urban Legends.
According to Urban Legend, which is extremely reliable, the photo of Kerry in the park was doctored. Hanoi Jane, the website said, was added to make it appear that Kerry had a much closer relationship with the antiwar activist during the 1970s.
On Fox News an hour or so later a Kerry apologist denounced the news clipping as a forgery. As I watched, Kerry's guy ripped the truth and patched it together with a little fiction and spun both like they were a single fabrication. As I watched the program, I found myself wondering if John F. Kerry had managed to create his own urban legend by doctoring up a photograph of himself sitting alone in a park in order to call into question the authenticity of the genuine photo of him attending a Jane Fonda anti-war rally. Before examining the photos closer, I was pretty much convinced that someone who very good with Adobe Photo Shop had inserted Jane Fonda into the Kerry photo. But who? A Kerry detractor--or a Kerry staffer? After studying both photographs with a magnifying glass, I concluded I was wrong. The photo that was doctored was not the image of Kerry with Jane Fonda giving an anti-war speech. The photograph that was doctored was the image of Kerry sitting alone in the park. Look at the two images below, and pay particular attention to the circled areas. In the photo on the left. Look at the cord next to the yellow circle. While a good graphic artist would likely think of adding the mike cord, most people today (the rightwing wackos) would not since most microphones are cordless. It was a minute detail to include when stupid errors were not caught.
In the photo on the left, look at the cord next to the yellow circle. While a good graphic artist would likely think of adding a cord, most people today (the rightwing wackos) would not since most microphones today are cordless. It was a minute detail to include when stupid errors were not caught. Look INSIDE the yellow circle. Kerry is holding notes for a speech. BEHIND that paper in his hand is Fonda. Granted, once again, a very good graphic artist could have recreated the papers in Kerry's hand after inserting Fonda into the photo, but more likely than not, Fonda was erased from this photo, not added. Note the paper on the podium (indicated by the yellow arrow). That paper, which appears to be Fonda's crib notes, remains in the photo on the right (inside magenta circle) when there is no one in the photo to use them. That error overwhelmingly suggests Fonda was not added to this photo, but removed from the previous one. Note also that not only is the podium present in both photos, so is the canopy poles (far right in both photos). The scene itself suggests the photo containing Fonda is the original, and the photo in which Kerry appears alone is the manipulated image.
Furthermore, if the photo of Kerry is the original photo, it would likely have been a Kerry family photo since, according to the Senator, he had not yet joined up with Fonda and the media would have had no interest in him. If it was not a public domain photo, how would a purported photo manipulator gotten hold of it? The fact that it lacked any value to the media at that time (when one of the two photos were shot) suggests it was never in the public domain--which means it would have been difficult for a cybermanipulator to get their hands on it, let alone doctor it up.
I learned long ago that the simplest explanation is usually the correct one. The simplest explanation is that Jane Fonda was removed from the photo after it made its way into the public domain a week or so ago and the doctored photo was offered to Urban Legends as the original photo. The Kerry crowd will likely dispute my theory. And, if they are inclined, it will be easy enough for them to disprove my theory (which is proffered as a theory and not as fact).
All the Kerry Campaign has to do is produce the original Kerry negative of young Kerry sitting on that particular stage, at the podium, all by himself--and courier that negative to either the Washington Times or the Wall Street Journal and let them test the film of the negative to verify that it is circa 1970 film and chemicals. If the "Kerry Only" photo is the deemed by them to be the genuine article and the "Kerry and Jane" photo a forgery, I will use my cyber-bully pulpit to urge my conservatives friends to stop picking on John Kerry's anti-American, anti-war record.
Now that seems like a fair deal
© 2004 Jon C. Ryter - All Rights Reserved
Jon Christian Ryter is the pseudonym of a former newspaper reporter with the Parkersburg, WV Sentinel. He authored a syndicated newspaper column, Answers From The Bible, from the mid-1970s until 1985. Answers From The Bible was read weekly in many suburban markets in the United States.
Today, Jon is an advertising executive with
the Washington Times. His website, www.jonchristianryter.com
has helped him establish a network of mid-to senior-level Washington insiders
who now provide him with a steady stream of material for use both in his
books and in the investigative reports that are found on his website.
"According to Urban Legend, which is extremely reliable, the photo of Kerry in the park was doctored. Hanoi Jane, the website said, was added to make it appear that Kerry had a much closer relationship with the antiwar activist during the 1970s."