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Burning Down My Master's House

Kevin has given all us guest bloggers an extraordinary amount of latitude since we started guest blogging. So I feel like a double smuck for doing this, but I feel I really must (very, very ;-) respectfully disagree with his Limbaugh post. (I've been fired from higher paying jobs ;-)

Everybody is piling on, but let's slow down. (And when I have to be the voice of calm reason, you folks are sunk.)

First, the post is titled "Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Thief." At the risk of pointing out the painfully obvious, it is highly doubtful Limbaugh made the graphic. In fact, it is doubtful he has even seen the graphic. So calling him a thief is, IMO, is a little off base.

Second, if you look at the graphics, they are not the same. Look at the top of the drop shadows. That in an of itself does not prove his web folks did not save the graphic and edit it. It does however prove it was not a simple cut and paste as it has been claimed. My gut says they cleaned up Jessica's work, but it does give them plausible deniability. (But is it reasonable doubt?:) So basically, at worst, they stole an idea. If that is banned, there'd be no blogosphere.

Third, how can Limbaugh get "tired" of the thief story when he has not had time to reply? He will not be on the air until Monday. It would be different if this were a 2 week story. It is HIGHLY doubtful Limbaugh even knows this "controversy" exists.

I think the way Limbaugh responds to this will say volumes more than what one of his web dweebs may or may not have done. Why not let the guy reply before we hang him for something he obviously did not do?

(a personal note below)

I debated at length putting this in the comments of the original post. I felt it warranted a full post as many people were jumping to many conclusions.

As I said, Kevin has given us a ton of latitude here on Wizbang. He has never once exercised editorial control in any way even though he and I are basically on polar opposite sides of the most controversial issue in politics. (that obviously being abortion) If anything would be a litmus test for a guest blogger that would be it. He's never said a word.

I've been looking for a chance to work some kudos into the conversation for that, but it never came up. Now it did.

Comments (10)

Traitor! Blasphemer! Turnco... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Traitor! Blasphemer! Turncoat! Infidel!

(to Kevin) Master, may I burn the heretic for you?

Seriously, Paul, I respect your position on this, as well as your superior expertise with graphics. (Have I thanked you yet for fixing my Boston Globe posting that blew the hell out of the page? If not, thank you. If so, thank you again.)

But I gotta disagree with your analysis. I pulled out PhotoShop and went to work on those graphics myself.

Two things tend to make me think Limbaugh's site did lift Natalie's work. First, the image size. Both graphics are 432 x 459 pixels. That strikes me as an unusual size -- it reduces to a 16x17 ratio, which works out to an 8.5w x 8h. A strange coincidence, it seems to me. But I could easily be mistaken -- for all I know, that's a standard image size.

The second observation, though, is tougher to argue. It is how perfectly the insert is aligned in both. When scaled to 8.5 x 8, the top edge of the text is aligned perfectly with the 4 7/8 mark, while the right edge is at 5 7/16 in both images. If that's a coincidence, it's stretching the bounds of credibility.

I have to side with your gut, Paul -- my highly-untrained opinion says it's a tweaked version of Natalie's original graphic. And the phrase "plausible deniability" goes back to the original point -- that's a legal defense, and "it isn't illegal" is an incredibly poor defense. It's usually an admission of moral or ethical failings.

But you're right on one point -- we should give Limbaugh a chance to respond to these charges. He very well may rise to do right by Natalie. And as Hunter S. Thompson once wrote, "the scum also rises."


I've got to disagree with P... (Below threshold)

I've got to disagree with Paul's analysis of the drop shadows. Both images appear to me to have the shadows placed on the same sides: right and lower.

Extremely busy today, so I ... (Below threshold)

Extremely busy today, so I missed the chance for a lengthy comment. Diversity of opinion is welcome, especially when I'm right :-).

Jay and noodleGent... (Below threshold)

Jay and noodle

Gentlemen, you are free to disagree with me on my opinions. You are not however allowed to disagree with an obvious fact. That is defying logic, not me.

Look at the drop shadow in the top and left sides of both boxes. There are dots there that were not there in Jess's version. It is not a matter of opinion. A different drop shadow tool was used.



it reduces to a 16x17 ratio, which works out to an 8.5w x 8h. A strange coincidence, it seems to me.

Duh! Reduced to the exact ratio of the original art work. (mag cover) That's like saying an 8 x 10 reduces to 4 x 5 so it must mean something. You are finding the obvious and trying to call it atypical.

And our collective hunches are probably right. They probably took Jess's art work and manipulated it then reused it. But-- Isn't that what Jess did with the Life mag to begin with?

Taking work and repackaging it is a hallmark of the blogosphere. Granted it was not an incredible amount of work but they did do it.

Certainly they could have gone and gotten the mag and recreated it. That is why I said they basically stole an idea. And I'll repeat what I said earlier- If stealing an idea and repackaging it is banned then we can just shut the blogosphere down.


Paul, I'm not gonna argue a... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Paul, I'm not gonna argue about the drop points -- that's a term of art I am completely unfamiliar with. What I was trying to express was that both pieces took two separate images (the cover and the beginning of the article) and synthesized them together. I'm tossing my flag based on both of them using EXACTLY the same pixel-dimension pasteboard, and EXACTLY the same alignment of the two separate pieces.

As far as "stealing and repackaging" -- Limbaugh's people did less "repackaging" on the image than when GM took a Chevrolet Cavalier, stuck a wreath and crest on it, jacked up the price 10 grand, and called it a Cadillac Cimarron. All they did was the equivalent of changing the hood ornament.

"Stealing and repackaging" is, indeed a crucial element of the blogosphere. So, however, is calling out those who do it without attribution, and giving credit to where it is due.

The lack of accoutability in big media is one of the driving forces of the blogosphere. I've lost count how many distortionists, fabulists, and plagiarists have been busted by bloggers. Now that big media is noticing the bloggers, though, and attempting to capitalize on the swelling popularity. Now more than ever bloggers have to stick to their roots, their strengths, and keep themselves honest.


Jay I don't completely disa... (Below threshold)

Jay I don't completely disagree.. I just think the piling on was overboard.


And yeah- The Cimarron sucked BIG TIME.

Well, I dont know anything ... (Below threshold)

Well, I dont know anything about Photoshop or any of the technical details involved in doing what was done. One could argue that with the publicity Natalie has gotten from this, it has worked out to be a good thing. I cant bring myself to listen to Mr. Limbaugh, but I will visit next week and see if there is an update here. It will be interesting to see if he addresses the controversy, since he rarely admits error.

You can't screw around with... (Below threshold)

You can't screw around with ethics. One of the problems with recent politics which bugs the increasingly few people not committed to a political party (like me) is that principles are so fluid. If Al Franken had done the same thing many people would be up in arms denouncing him.

But it's always hard to chastize a friend or think that this friend is not totally up to our own standards. So both parties have a tendency to overlook and rationalize it when their people step over the line.

No, I think Kevin showed he stood firm on princples. That means for someone like me who reads all different sides and loves to read differing views that Whizbang has enhanced credibility -- because it's anchored in key values that don't change depending on friendship or political alliance. (In fact, I used to do the blog of the day and will do it more erratically and do whizbang using this as a peg for my first one in months).

But I will say this: I am certain if we really found out what happened we would see that an underling in charge of his webpage did this. That does NOT excuse what was done. And if the person from whose website it was lifted doesn't care, that also doesn't change what was done. There have to be certain principles and ethical standards that are defended. A little deal is a big deal because not lower the bar ANY MORE in America is what we should all be trying to do.

While Rush may have breeche... (Below threshold)

While Rush may have breeched the rules, there's much bigger fish to fry. The nation is in a struggle for it's existance and the VRWC is losing a propaganda war. I would rather pile on the appeasers, the pacifists and the misguided liberals when attacking the main stream media. Instead of posting absurd statements from newspapers and commenting among ourselves, it might make sense to comment to and in the media itself and try to sway public opinion before the election in 25 weeks.

If you are expecting a man ... (Below threshold)

If you are expecting a man to take time on a radio show listened to by 50 million people a week and apologize for something an underling might have done, I think you are going to be sorely disappointed.

Even if it were lifted directly, which it was not, the best you could realistically hope for is a mention on the website.

Let's be realistic.






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