As noted in the post below, Congressman Anthony Weiner stands accused of using Twitter to post a lewd photo to a young woman who attends college in Seattle. The story was broken by smear-merchant Andrew Breitbart, the power behind the fake "pimp-goes-to-Acorn" story which recently landed James O'Keefe in court.
Weiner, who has retained an attorney
, is claiming that his account was hacked -- at least, that claim was attributed to him in this sloppily written New York Times account
. (The preceding post details the errors in that story.) Hacking is very possible, of course. But I have found evidence of another solution: There was no hacker at all. The "evidence" against Weiner was faked -- created in Photoshop.
The young lady in question, Gennette Nicole Cordova, avers that she not only has never met Weiner, she never received the Tweet or the picture. Here are her exact words:
There have never been any inappropriate exchanges between Anthony Weiner and myself, including the tweet/picture in question, which had apparently been deleted before it reached me.
Does it make sense for a sitting congressman to place such a photo where everyone could see it, but not to send it directly to the lady herself?
Apparently, the photo was available only to those who had accessed the Yfrog account. Yfrog is a service offered by Imageshack in order to facilitate sending pictures via Twitter.
At this point, I have no choice but to show the actual screen capture, as published on Breitbart's site
. The screencap of the (alleged) original Twitter feed is at the top of this post.
Breitbart says that the all of the congressman's Yfrog photos were deleted at 11 p.m. eastern. It is undisputed that Weiner spent most of that evening tweeting about a hockey game and the Clarence Thomas controversy.
He also tweeted
Tivo shot. FB hacked. Is my blender gonna attack me next?
The "FB hacked" remark was not (as many presume) an immediate reaction to the photo. Obviously, Facebook (FB) is not Twitter. However, Weiner has said that someone did hack into his Facebook account.
He has said that his Facebook was hacked and if his Twitter had the same password, that too could be vulnerable.
(I suspect that everything in the Yfrog account was indeed deleted, probably by an aide, certainly as a precaution, and arguably as an over-reaction.)
To me the big "tell" is this: If Weiner really did send the pic, it was up for only a brief time. Gennette did not see it. None of his followers have come forward to say that they saw the message to Gennette in the Twitter timeline. Nobody else seems to have looked up the photo on Yfrog -- except for Breitbart's unnamed source.
Breitbart's source allegedly saw the pic, and took a screen capture, 27 minutes after the picture was posted. To repeat: We know of no-one else who saw it during that time -- just the unnamed associate of Andrew Breitbart.
(Update: This Kos diary
claims that "liberals and conservatives" both saw the Yfrog page. I would like names here. Also see the first comment to this post, and my reply.)
That scenario may seem likely to you. It does not seem at all likely to me
The obvious question arises: Is the image above an actual screen cap, or is it Photoshop? (You make a screen capture by hitting the "Print Screen" button on your keyboard.)
In order to determine the reality of the image, we need to compare it to an actual screencap of a Yfrog page carrying an uploaded image.
That's why, earlier this evening, I did something I once swore never to do -- I created a Twitter account under a fake name. This gave me access to Yfrog.
Once there, I uploaded an image -- in this case, the Burne-Jones Annunciation
, one of my favorite Pre-Raphaelite works. Here is a screen cap of the resultant Yfrog web page.
(It's cropped to save on screen real estate. Click on the image for a larger version, if want to study Burne-Jones' brushwork. Better still, see the original. I think it's in the Tate.)
At this point, we must play that old game from Sesame Street
: "One of these things is not like the other..." No, I'm not talking about the obvious fact that a crotch shot is not like a picture of the Virgin Mary. Gaze higher. I want you to take a close look at the formatting
of the page. I believe that Yfrog image pages always have the same format regardless of platform and browser.
If you look at the headers in both screen caps, you'll see a very obvious point of divergence. On my page -- and, it would seem, on every real
Yfrog image upload -- the header includes the URL address of the image itself
. The format of this URL is invariable: http://yfrog.com/ -- followed by a strange combination of letters and numbers that only a computer could love.
The URL does not appear in the "Weiner" screen cap. If Breitbart's source had provided that URL, it would probably be an easy matter for the folks behind Yfrog to determine whether a picture had, in fact, been uploaded to that site.The absence of that URL is clear evidence of forgery.
There's another big difference between the headers: The words "Tweet" and "Favorite," placed next to "Reply." Even positing fakery, I cannot easily explain why these factors are missing.
Am I 100% certain of forgery? No, not quite. Twitter and Yfrog are, to be frank, new worlds for me. (I do use Imageshack to host some of the images appearing on this blog). Conceivably, there may be some aspect of Twitter or Yfrog which I do not yet understand. If so, a reader will, no doubt, kindly explain the situation me.
At the moment, though, the evidence against Breitbart looks damning.
I believe that the screen capture published on Breitbart's site is a fake. It was always pretty suspicious for Breitbart's source not to list the URL -- which, needless to say, would also have appeared in the address field of the browser. That address field would have appeared in an uncropped version of the screen cap. The URL for the image would have provided further evidence. So why didn't Breitbart provide it?
The obvious explanation is that he didn't provide a URL because a URL never existed.
Some of you may be wondering: If the image was Photoshopped, then why would Weiner say that his account was hacked? The answer is obvious: Because that was his honest presumption. It appears that someone really did try to fiddle with his Facebook account. The alternative possibility -- that there was no hacker, that the image on Breitbart's site was a concoction -- simply did not occur to him.
(Of course, the "Photoshopped" theory does not necessarily exclude the idea of hacking. Even if we posit that an unauthorized person gained access to Weiner's Twitter password and then uploaded the image, that person would still have had to cover up the URL in the screen cap. Why? Because if the URL information for that image were made available to the public, it would be possible for the Yfrog folks to trace the IP address of the person who uploaded the picture. Unless, of course, the hacker used a proxy. But proxies are kind of a pain in the butt. Besides, the use of a proxy would itself be obvious, and would exonerate Weiner.)
Weiner has never claimed to have seen or deleted that specific image on the Yfrog site. That claim has been made by others
, but they have cited no proof.Please publicize these findings -- and by all means, repeat the experiment conducted above. If your findings match mine, and if no-one comes up for a reasonable explanation for the URL anomaly, then we have conclusive proof of Weiner's innocence.Side notes:
Some of you may be wondering about my choice of pseudonym. G. Dowson was an obscure illustrator whose work I like. The number 153 has a complex mathematical relationship to the vesica piscis
, which is the symbol used on the Chalice Well in Glastonbury. For longtime readers, no further explanation should be necessary.
I will not use that Twitter account again. If there is any activity, then we really do
have a hacker problem.
Perhaps I should mention that something happened yesterday which set off alarm bells.
Someone tried to "set up" this blog by posting a comment which insulted Breitbart in crudely anti-Semitic terms. The comment was cliched and obviously insincere. It didn't sound like the work of an actual bigot; it seemed more like the concoction of someone posing
as a bigot. I can't recall the exact wording, but it was something along the lines of "All Jews are devils!" I would never publish such trash, of course.
This was the first time anyone has ever sent me a message of that sort. I smelled trouble right off, and that unwelcome scent still lingers.Additional update:
Again, I remind readers to look at the first comment, which does point to a Yfrog pic without that URL. I have not yet been able to replicate that result. Still, we do seem to have a very likely candidate
for the forger/hacker:
. . . The most likely suspect in the whole thing is a conservative activist named Dan Wolfe, who goes by Twitter handle @patriotusa76. Wolfe appears obsessed with Weiner: He has tweeted at him 287 times since April. On May 12, he began tweeting that a Democrat would soon have a scandal like former Rep. Chris Lee, who resigned after posting shirtless photos on Craigslist. Wolfe appears to be the only person to have seen Weiner’s tweet before he claims Weiner must have deleted it. . .