This whole flap about the Bush Military Records being faked may or may not be political machinations at work, but I can contribute a little apolitical bit to the dialog.
For what it is worth, and I really don’t know about how things are done at CBS’ 60 Minutes, but it is not uncommon at all to retype an old document and get it in a more legible form for video editing. Video quality is so poor that many things print or graphic artists take for granted just don’t hold up on TV. Producers usually want things to look better on TV than be real and hard to see, so they “recreate” reality to get the message across.
I’m not saying if it is right or wrong, just that it happens all the time. The original may be faded or smudged beyond readability, so it’ll get reset in the tools we have available today – a word processor. Everything you see on video or film is all about manipulation to get the slant or spin of the story just so. Truth or reality often has bad lighting or poor quaility, so it gets bent a little to make it look better. It just happens. You can like or not, but there it is.
I’ll do it when I need a clean, digital version of some ultra compressed, JPEG scan of a headline or article text – usually emailed from a client, who means well, but doesn’t know what we really need. A clean scan or better yet a nice PDF of the original article. I ususally make damn sure I duplicate the look and feel of the document as closely as possible.
That being said it looks like there are plenty of other problems that cause these Bush docs to be suspect…given that, what I really want to know is what, even slightly digitally savvy technician/editor/graphic artist wouldn’t look at these documents and say, “those don’t look like something from 1973 to me.” I said that to a colleague the instant I saw them (a few hours before the uproar began). The fact that CBS hasn’t offered up any alternate original documents only adds salt to the wound.
As I commented to a friend, maybe this doc was created by some 22 year-old techno-wiz who wouldn’t know what a typerwriter-created document would look like if jumped out and bit them.