Main Menu

FactCheck scrubs images?

A couple of emails arrived recently dealing with FactCheck.org photos of Barack Obama’s birth certificate.

The original FactCheck article with photos appeared August of 2008, a couple of months after the Obama campaign released a scanned image to a few news organizations. The scan didn’t clearly show the raised seal, had the certificate number blacked out, and didn’t show the back of the form, leading critics to claim that a paper Certification of Live Birth (COLB) didn’t physically exist. FactCheck sent a couple of staffers over to the Obama campaign headquarters in Chicago to take pictures.

As with every new piece of evidence that should reasonably raise confidence in Barack Obama’s origins, birthers just come up with more imagined ways it could be false, and the anti-Obama propagandists figure out how to smear folks they don’t like, in this case FactCheck. The big lie about FactCheck is that Barack Obama used to be on the board of FactCheck (or some variant of that story). Barack Obama was on the board of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a local initiative funded by the Annenberg foundation to improve education in a few schools in Chicago. FactCheck.org is funded partly by another division of the Annenberg megacharity, the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. To get an idea of how much a tie this is, ask yourself how close you are to your third cousin. (Did I mention that Annenberg donated money to the McCain campaign in 2008?) I include this because I saw this smear just this morning at the Washington Examiner in an April 3 op ed piece by Matt Patterson, who wrote:

Not so fast. Factcheck.org. bills itself as “a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania,” with funding largely derived from “an endowment created in 1993 by the Annenberg Foundation … and a 1995 grant by the Annenberg Foundation.”

Obama was famously a founding board member of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, also a project of the Annenberg Foundation. The connection is strong enough, in my mind, to raise reasonable questions about the objectivity of factcheck.org in matters regarding Obama.

But back to the emails. The first alerted me to an article on the Post & Email blog, where it is reported that as of April 3, 2011, at 1:00 p.m. EDT, the FactCheck images of the COLB had been removed. As of 12:27 AM on April 4, they are back up. This is not the first time those images have gone missing. I found the links had gone bad back in November of 2010. I sent FactCheck a note and the pictures reappeared. What I have learned, though, is that if I find something important on the Internet, I should make a copy just in case.

Another statement came courtesy of Deep Birther from a comment at the Washington Examiner:

The other major problem with this self-declared factchecking site is that it was caught manipulating the facts. Embedded data in their pictures as originally posted showed that they were taken March 12, 2008 … three months before Obama publicly dislosed [sic] his jpg … and FIVE MONTHS before factlack dot org said they took the photos. The EXIF data was scrubbed from the images to hide this discrepancy.

There are FactCheck images on the Internet with the March 12 date in EXIF data (see following). Of course, one can add EXIF data as easily as one can remove it. My December, 2008, FactCheck copies don’t have EXIF data.

Properties of FactCheck-like image found on the Internet

It seems barely plausible, though, that those photos were really taken at 10:41 PM. My speculation is that the camera’s clock wasn’t set, resulting in a spurious date. FactCheck may have erased the EXIF data after discovering that it was wrong and causing problems.

It almost seems like April 3 is the “attack the FactCheck images” day coordinated by birther activists. Anything, I guess, to take the spotlight off Donald Trump.


Update:

In a phone conversation this morning with Brooks Jackson, Director of FactCheck.org, I asked him about the various questions discussed in this article. He said that when FactCheck.org moved from its former content management system to a WordPress-based site, a number of media links became invalid and this apparently went unnoticed for some time. When FactCheck was made aware of the problem, it was corrected. When asked about the internal dates on the Obama certificate images, he said that the camera used to take the photos did not have its date set correctly, and pointed out that FactCheck had reported this previously.

, ,

32 Responses to FactCheck scrubs images?

  1. avatar
    MaryMitch April 4, 2011 at 11:34 am #

    I remember that President Obama’s campaign made the birth certificate document available for anyone to go by headquarters to physically examine it. Did any of the birthers even bother to do so? Is the document still available?

  2. avatar
    richCares April 4, 2011 at 11:36 am #

    irrational birthers are driven by hate of Obama, this cause brain damage, they become allergic to fact and reality, no amount of facts can reach their damaged brains. That makes them paypal pushing suckers that believe an 8mo pregnant girl would go to Afrivca and give birth under poor medical conditions then sneak the baby into lugage to avod immigration. A synomym for birther is dipshit!

  3. avatar
    richCares April 4, 2011 at 11:37 am #

    “Is the document still available?”
    yes it is, but viewing it may cause severe damaged to a birther’s limited brain.

  4. avatar
    Dr Kenneth Noisewater (Bob Ross) April 4, 2011 at 11:44 am #

    Doc I’ve had several birthers believe the lies about factcheck without question. Several are like factcheck isn’t reliable since it supports terrorism. I’m like what?! They go on to exclaim because of the ties Bill Ayers had to Chicago Annenberg Challenge that means somehow Factcheck is related and must support terrorism. Nevermind that at the time Bill Ayers was no longer with the Weather Underground nor doing what he did during the 60s.

  5. avatar
    Majority Will April 4, 2011 at 11:44 am #

    richCares: es it is, but viewing it may cause severe damaged to a birther’s limited brain.

    I’m not sure if that’s possible but even so, would anyone notice the difference?

  6. avatar
    Dr Kenneth Noisewater (Bob Ross) April 4, 2011 at 11:46 am #

    Doc I don’t mean to be a stickler but scrub has one b

  7. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy April 4, 2011 at 11:46 am #

    FactCheck is the only ones reported to have seen the COLB.

  8. avatar
    Sean April 4, 2011 at 12:36 pm #

    The clock on my Nikon digital camera is not set. All My pictures end up with a date of Dec 31, 2001.

  9. avatar
    Dr Kenneth Noisewater (Bob Ross) April 4, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

    Sean: The clock on my Nikon digital camera is not set. All My pictures end up with a date of Dec 31, 2001.

    Maybe you’re nikon is trapped in a moebius loop a la groundhog day

  10. avatar
    Thrifty April 4, 2011 at 12:52 pm #

    I bought a used digital camera at a pawn shop back in the summer of 2010. It didn’t come with any instruction manual, and there doesn’t seem to be any particular markings to identify the manufacturer. Therefore, I can’t figure out how to change the date. Consequently, every picture I take is dated September 2003.

  11. avatar
    Joey April 4, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    FactCheck is the only ones reported to have seen the COLB.

    The St. Petersburg Times’ “Politifact” unit also got a copy from the Obama campaign headquarters in Chicago, the one they scanned and emailed to Janice Okubo:
    “The ultimate document we sought was Obama’s birth certificate. Unlike the other documents, Hawaii birth certificates aren’t public record. Only family members can request copies, so when the campaign declined to give us one, we were stalled.
    On June 13, 2008, Obama’s campaign finally released a copy, while launching a fact-check Web site of its own, Fightthesmears.com. The site is a direct response to allegations about Obama that won’t go away: He’s Muslim. He took the oath of office on a Koran. He refuses to say the Pledge of Allegiance. PolitiFact has researched all of these accusations and none of them are true.
    When the birth certificate arrived from the Obama campaign it confirmed his name as the other documents already showed it. Still, we took an extra step: We e-mailed it to the Hawaii Department of Health, which maintains such records, to ask if it was real.
    “It’s a valid Hawaii state birth certificate,” spokesman Janice Okubo told us.”

  12. avatar
    Daniel April 4, 2011 at 1:10 pm #

    >> “It almost seems like April 3 is the “attack the FactCheck images” day coordinated by birther activists.”

    Trust the Birthers to be two days late for April Fool’s Day.

  13. avatar
    Sef April 4, 2011 at 1:13 pm #

    Daniel:
    >> “It almost seems like April 3 is the “attack the FactCheck images” day coordinated by birther activists.”

    Trust the Birthers to be two days late for April Fool’s Day.

    They’ve been trying the same joke for 3 years.

  14. avatar
    Sef April 4, 2011 at 1:22 pm #

    Sean:
    The clock on my Nikon digital camera is not set. All My pictures end up with a date of Dec 31, 2001.

    Totally off topic, but anyone who has a recent Canon P&S camera should check out http://chdk.wikia.com/wiki/CHDK . Your camera is more powerful than you ever imagined.

  15. avatar
    Observer April 4, 2011 at 4:18 pm #

    The Examiner is a newspaper.

    Why don’t they ask to take a look at the COLB?

    For that matter, why don’t CNN and MSNBC send reporters to the Obama campaign to film the actual COLB, instead of posting the online version?

  16. avatar
    Loren April 4, 2011 at 4:58 pm #

    The first alerted me to an article on the Post & Email blog, where it is reported that as of April 3, 2011, at 1:00 p.m. EDT, the FactCheck images of the COLB had been removed. As of 12:27 AM on April 4, they are back up.

    You’re looking at the wrong Factcheck page. The one with the missing image is this one, from June 2008:

    http://www.factcheck.org/askfactcheck/has_obamas_birth_certificate_been_disclosed.html

    Note that this entry is part of the “Ask FactCheck” feature. And whatever has gone wrong at FactCheck isn’t limited to the COLB image; the whole “askfactcheck” archive appears to be screwed up right now. See: http://www.factcheck.org/askfactcheck/

  17. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy April 4, 2011 at 5:00 pm #

    Loren: You’re looking at the wrong Factcheck page. The one with the missing image is this one, from June 2008:

    OK. In any case, the photos are still on the FactCheck web site, just some broken links.

  18. avatar
    Bovril April 4, 2011 at 5:13 pm #

    The Examiner isn’t a newspaper it’s a common platfom for (mostly) right wing bloggers

    They’re (mostly) right wing bloggers so why would they do anything in support of Obama

    Why would the real press follow up on a (then) banal, nut job fantasy non news item at the level of “BREAKING NEWS…..THE SUN ROSE THIS MORNING!!!!!!!”

  19. avatar
    Slartibartfast April 4, 2011 at 5:19 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy: OK. In any case, the photos are still on the FactCheck web site, just some broken links.

    Don’t you realize that the only way links on the web can ever be broken is if a massive conspiracy of some sort WANTS them to be broken? (I believe that this is the 83rd corollary of the birther webscrubbing axiom)

    p.s. I would echo Bob Ross in suggesting that a little ‘scrubBing’ of your own might be in order…

  20. avatar
    Suranis April 4, 2011 at 5:40 pm #

    Loren: You’re looking at the wrong Factcheck page.The one with the missing image is this one, from June 2008:

    http://www.factcheck.org/askfactcheck/has_obamas_birth_certificate_been_disclosed.html

    I think that’s been gone for a while. I remember looking at that and getting a blank link a while back. But as far as I remember it just lead to the BC image the Obama campaign gave out, not to any of the factcheck images (that wee photographed later than june 2008)

  21. avatar
    Sef April 4, 2011 at 6:29 pm #

    Suranis: I think that’s been gone for a while. I remember looking at that and getting a blank link a while back. But as far as I remember it just lead to the BC image the Obama campaign gave out, not to any of the factcheck images (that wee photographed later than june 2008)

    Possibly the reason for this link being broken is that it points to a path with spaces. They have been replaced with “%20”, but some webservers and OSs don’t like spaces in paths. Possibly factheck changed their server & missed this path.

  22. avatar
    Sean April 4, 2011 at 7:34 pm #

    Bill Clinton just weighed in on the Birther non-issue. He said one of the rules of combat is not to get in your opponent’s way when he’s shooting himself in the foot.

  23. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy April 4, 2011 at 8:31 pm #

    Dr Kenneth Noisewater (Bob Ross): Doc I don’t mean to be a stickler but scrub has one b

    And I’ll bet you’re one of the lizzard people.

  24. avatar
    Dr Kenneth Noisewater (Bob Ross) April 4, 2011 at 9:12 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy: And I’ll bet you’re one of the lizzard people.

    no Mole people

  25. avatar
    J. Edward Tremlett April 4, 2011 at 9:18 pm #

    Sean:
    Bill Clinton just weighed in on the Birther non-issue. He said one of the rules of combat is not to get in your opponent’s way when he’s shooting himself in the foot.

    Okay, I am in no way a fan of Billdo, but that is DAMN funny.

  26. avatar
    I, Barack Obama, was born at 2 different hospitals April 4, 2011 at 11:46 pm #

    http://www.factcheck.org/askfactcheck/has_obamas_birth_certificate_been_disclosed.html

    Link killed in this paragraph

    We asked for and received a copy from the Obama campaign. It is too large to display full size on this page, but you may (click on this link) to see a copy of the document just as we received it.

    http://factcheck.org/imagefiles/Ask%20FactCheck%20Images/Obama%20Birth%20Certificate/BO%20Birth%20Certificate.jpg

    Hypocrite!

  27. avatar
    dunstvangeet April 5, 2011 at 12:10 am #

    I, Barack Obama, was born at 2 different hospitals:
    http://www.factcheck.org/askfactcheck/has_obamas_birth_certificate_been_disclosed.html

    Link killed in this paragraph

    We asked for and received a copy from the Obama campaign. It is too large to display full size on this page, but you may (click on this link) to see a copy of the document just as we received it.

    http://factcheck.org/imagefiles/Ask%20FactCheck%20Images/Obama%20Birth%20Certificate/BO%20Birth%20Certificate.jpg

    Hypocrite!

    And yet, for scrubbing the images off of the website, they’ve done a lousy job.

    http://www.factcheck.org/UploadedFiles/birth_certificate_1.jpg
    http://www.factcheck.org/UploadedFiles/birth_certificate_2.jpg
    http://www.factcheck.org/UploadedFiles/birth_certificate_3.jpg
    http://www.factcheck.org/UploadedFiles/birth_certificate_4.jpg
    http://www.factcheck.org/UploadedFiles/birth_certificate_5.jpg
    http://www.factcheck.org/UploadedFiles/birth_certificate_6.jpg
    http://www.factcheck.org/UploadedFiles/birth_certificate_7.jpg
    http://www.factcheck.org/UploadedFiles/birth_certificate_8.jpg
    http://www.factcheck.org/UploadedFiles/birth_certificate_9.jpg

    Nine photos of the website, all linked to by their main article dealing with the birth certificate: http://www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/born_in_the_usa.html

    Portions of which are used in that article…

    For scrubbing the images from the website, they’ve sure done a lousy job.

  28. avatar
    dunstvangeet April 5, 2011 at 12:12 am #

    Joey: The St. Petersburg Times’ “Politifact” unit also got a copy from the Obama campaign headquarters in Chicago, the one they scanned and emailed to Janice Okubo:
    “The ultimate document we sought was Obama’s birth certificate. Unlike the other documents, Hawaii birth certificates aren’t public record. Only family members can request copies, so when the campaign declined to give us one, we were stalled.
    On June 13, 2008, Obama’s campaign finally released a copy, while launching a fact-check Web site of its own, Fightthesmears.com. The site is a direct response to allegations about Obama that won’t go away: He’s Muslim. He took the oath of office on a Koran. He refuses to say the Pledge of Allegiance. PolitiFact has researched all of these accusations and none of them are true.
    When the birth certificate arrived from the Obama campaign it confirmed his name as the other documents already showed it. Still, we took an extra step: We e-mailed it to the Hawaii Department of Health, which maintains such records, to ask if it was real.
    “It’s a valid Hawaii state birth certificate,” spokesman Janice Okubo told us.”

    My personal theory on that is that when Obama’s campaign scanned it for the Fight the Smears website, they sent it (via email) to various news organizations, including Politifact, DailyKos, and FactCheck.

  29. avatar
    Greg April 5, 2011 at 12:34 am #

    I, Barack Obama, was born at 2 different hospitals: Link killed in this paragraph

    You can still see the photos on factcheck here.

    You’re a pretty lazy troll.

  30. avatar
    Sean April 5, 2011 at 2:14 pm #

    I, Barack Obama, was born at 2 different hospitals:
    http://www.factcheck.org/askfactcheck/has_obamas_birth_certificate_been_disclosed.html

    Link killed in this paragraph

    We asked for and received a copy from the Obama campaign. It is too large to display full size on this page, but you may (click on this link) to see a copy of the document just as we received it.

    http://factcheck.org/imagefiles/Ask%20FactCheck%20Images/Obama%20Birth%20Certificate/BO%20Birth%20Certificate.jpg

    Hypocrite!

    Why are you such a douche?

  31. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy April 8, 2011 at 11:04 am #

    Please refer to an important update to this article just added.

  32. avatar
    Slartibartfast April 8, 2011 at 12:57 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    Please refer to an important update to this article just added.

    How dare you support your conclusions by actually asking someone in a position to know? That can’t possibly be fair…