The Latest Birther Idiocy — Article from Mara Zebest Claims that Savannah Guthrie “Proves She’s Complicit” in Obama Birth Certificate “Forgery”

NBC Reporter Savannah Guthrie Is the Latest Person to Be Falsely Accused of a Federal Crime by the Moonbat Birthers

NBC Reporter Savannah Guthrie Is the Latest Person to Be Falsely Accused of a Federal Crime by the Moonbat Birthers

I hope the birther readers of my blog will forgive me for stating the obvious when I use the term “idiocy” — but frankly, after more than a year, I am finally about running out of patience for the ludicrous claims that have been repeatedly made by birthers, and are still being made — and all apparently with a straight face.

As regular readers know, I am currently endeavoring to wrap up this blog. Right now I’m working on the blog’s final article, which I keep hoping to post “in a few days.” And of course, the whole thing has gotten longer and more involved than originally envisioned. But it’s coming. Soon. I promise.

In the meantime, when somebody publicly posts something this unfathomably stupid, which takes literally only a few minutes to completely debunk, and uses it as a basis to publicly accuse someone else of a very serious federal crime, it’s pretty difficult to just sit and remain silent.

One wonders also exactly how well the author of this garbage would like to be publicly and falsely accused, in a high-profile internet article, of a serious federal crime.

An article posted a few days ago at makes the claim that NBC reporter Savannah Guthrie is “complicit” in the mythical White House “forgery” of President Barack Obama’s birth certificate. The claim is based on the supposed misspelling of the word “Hawaii” in one of Savannah Guthrie’s photos of the birth certificate. The following image is provided as “proof.” The claim here is that the word “Hawaii” is misspelled in Guthrie’s photo (bottom), while it isn’t misspelled in the two other images we have of Obama’s birth certificate.

Well, gosh. It does kinda look like it’s spelled “Huwaii” in the last image, doesn’t it? Wow. The White House and NBC reporter Savannah Guthrie caught red-handed in a fraudulent conspiracy to put one over on the American public! That’s it! Arrest the President — and that fraud Savannah Guthrie as well.

Except the bottom image isn’t the original image. It has been altered by a computer graphics program — in this case, one guesses it’s probably Photoshop, since that’s the program the author of this article uses. Or possibly some other program, if the image was magnified before doing a screen capture.

In either case, here’s the original image, with no alteration made to it except for cropping it to about the same area shown above:

Hmm. Umm… well. That doesn’t really look quite as compelling, does it? Although it does still look kinda like a “u”, even there. If you get up close and squint.

Well, let’s try enlarging it again — except this time, accurately.

As anybody who works with graphics ought to know, whenever you enlarge an image using a graphics program, there are various options for how to process the image. The program that I personally use gives no less than 5 options for how to process or “resample” the image.

All but one of these changes the image.

Graphics Programs “Smooth” Enlarged Images So They Won’t Look Blocky

There’s a reason why a graphics program changes a small image that you make really big. If it doesn’t, then you end up seeing the pixels of the enlarged image in your end result. So the program tries to essentially guess, based on its machine intelligence, how to smooth things out so that you won’t end up with a blocky image.

If you have enough pixels in the image to start with, then your end result can still be fairly accurate as to the original.

But if your original image is based on very few pixels — that’s a problem, particularly when (as we will see in a moment) some random noise has been introduced into the image.

Here’s just the word “Hawaii,” enlarged by my own graphics program using the default settings — which, again, try to make the image “prettier” for human beings to look at:

Now let’s look at the image enlarged the RIGHT way, preserving its original information intact:

That’s it, folks. That’s ALL the information that Savannah Guthrie’s camera actually gives us. A grand total of TWELVE pixels for each of the letters “a.”

And there really ain’t that much difference between the first “a” and the second one, except that the curve of the first “a” is a bit lighter. It could easily have been the other way around.

Look at that first letter “a.” Does it look like a “u” now?

Now would you publicly accuse somebody of a very serious federal crime on the basis of those twelve pixels — or actually, on the basis of one or two pixels, and then claim that those one or two pixels are “PROOF” that person took part in a fraudulent criminal conspiracy — since that’s what the claim really comes down to?

But it gets worse. MUCH worse.

The Starting Image Contains Random Noise Caused by Optimization.

Even the image that we have — the one that Guthrie posted on the web — has been altered (innocently) in a way that introduces a certain amount of random noise.

Standard practice before posting an image on the web is to optimize that image. Optimization cuts down on the amount of information that has to be downloaded by visitors to a web site, but it does so in a way that leaves it reasonably viewable by your audience.

The standard format for photos on the web is JPEG. It’s been around a LONG time, and it is used in the vast majority of photos you see on the internet.

Whenever you optimize a JPEG image, it introduces some random noise. In fact, you can almost always see some of this random noise right around letters of text, in an image that has been JPEG-optimized.

Below is the relevant section of Guthrie’s photo, again, enlarged ACCURATELY from the original image:

You can clearly see the “scattered pixels” that come from JPEG optimization of the image — all over the place. But (as is perfectly normal) they don’t appear everywhere. They are around ALL of the letters. They are absent from the top 60% or so of the box at the upper left, but present in the lower 40% or so. They are almost entirely absent from the box at the lower left.

It is important to note that this randomization does not only affect the pixels around the text in the image. To a lesser degree and depending on the strength of the optimization used, it affects the text itself as well.

So even the one or two pixels that Zebest has, on which she is building a case of federal fraud, and which — even if the image is “accurate” — seem to show nothing more than the curve of the a — are not reliable in their shade values!

And when the actual text in the photo is this tiny — relying on just one or two pixels to represent a significant difference in a character — the way a letter looks is particularly susceptible to any amount of such noise.

And that noise may come not only from the optimization. There’s a definite possibility we have additional noise from the variations in the safety paper background, a speck of dust on the piece of paper, and maybe some other factor as well.

In fact, if you want to see how much variance you can get in the pixels, take another look at the accurate enlargement we did — noting particularly how widely the pixels vary in their shade in the other letters besides that a. They vary a lot.

I Was Frankly Shocked to Read the Author’s Name.

All of this is pretty basic graphics. There’s nothing at all advanced here. This is Graphics 101.

That’s why I was frankly shocked to read that the author of this article was Mara Zebest, who has collaborated on books about Photoshop, and who claims to be a graphics “expert.” In fact, she’s the most visible graphics “expert” the birthers seem to have.

She is also, apparently, the foundational “graphics expert” behind the claims made by Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Cold Case Posse that Mr. Obama’s birth certificate is a “forgery.”

Ms. Zebest’s previous claims of “proof of forgery” have been reviewed and found invalid by myself and a number of other commentators. In fact, virtually every claim made by Sheriff Joe’s Cold Case Posse back in March had been previously debunked, either by myself or by other writers.

But even if that were not the case, the level of sheer incompetence displayed in this one article — presuming here an innocent motive — would be enough to disqualify the writer of such an article, in my opinion, from being regarded afterward as a credible evaluator of the evidence in any serious forum.

It is simply inexcusable to make such charges based on an image that any graphics professional should know has been altered by enlargement and the noise of optimization.

In fact, this particular author is known to have in her possession (or at least to have had in her possession, earlier this year) a copy of my book on the Obama forgery theories which very clearly demonstrates, on pages 29 and 30, that the Guthrie photos are identical in all observable particulars (information present, precise placement of the letters, etc.) to the Associated Press image that she now claims this photo is different from.

If Ms. Zebest would like to give a response to this commentary, I am happy to have it here. Unfortunately, I really can’t imagine any way that this travesty of an article can be justified.

[Note: The original title of this article said, “Mara Zebest Claims that Savannah Guthrie ‘Proves She’s Complicit’… Rereading the article, I am not sure whether the top headline, “Savannah Guthrie Further Proves She’s Complicit: Hawaii Spelled Huwaii on Obama’s Birth Certificate,” was added by Ms. Zebest or (more likely) by somebody at In the interest of accuracy, therefore, I have changed the title to read, “Article from Mara Zebest Claims…” And I believe that’s accurate. Zebest herself implies that Savannah Guthrie is complicit in a crime, in the following statements:

“…the cropped version conveniently—and perhaps purposefully—centers oddly on information that…”

“After all, who are you going to believe, Savannah Guthrie or your lying eyes?”

Finally, regardless of exactly who put the top headline on, the article itself is still inexcusable.]

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23 Responses to The Latest Birther Idiocy — Article from Mara Zebest Claims that Savannah Guthrie “Proves She’s Complicit” in Obama Birth Certificate “Forgery”

  1. Suranis says:

    Wow. Great article John. I actually learned something from it. Thanks

    Sounds like the best title for the Birther Movie, doesn’t it? “12 pixels that CHANGED THE WORLD!!”

  2. John

    You cannot retire. It would be the equivalent of Sandy Koufax retiring in his prime. (Oh wait, that is exactly what happened), Another stupendous article.

  3. John Woodman says:

    I still can’t believe that some of these folks have hitched their fortunes to claims such as these.

    • gorefan says:

      Are you familiar with this claim about secret statisitical codes on the LFBC pdf?

      The 2:40 mark is when it gets good, even claiming the same pencil had to be used to make the smudges they are calling “vital statistics codes”.

      The Savanah Guthrie photos really upsets the idiots.

      • John Woodman says:

        Yeah, I’ve seen it. gsgs brought it up recently, and here was my response.

        At this point I’m honestly getting tired of the constant nonsense claims and accusations from the birthers. I was never at all quick to call people fruitcakes, but honestly, these people are fruitcakes. Their theories have been proven wrong now how many dozens of times in a row?

  4. gsgs says:

    why do people always post Guthrie photos in their blogs , lol

    I assume Zebest knows she writes nonsense, but does it nevertheless,
    so to boost birtherism.

    I think the middle horizontal bar of the “a” isn’t picked, because it was
    split to two pixels, while the top and bottom bars of the a were better aligned to the

    We should make another similar JPG to demonstrate the effects.
    Make some pics of AP with a camera and see how it looks.
    Maybe I can do it later. Zebest,Woodman should have done it.

    It was strange and unfortunate IMO that they just picked only one reporter to touch
    and photograph it and only low resolution.

    Zebest,Corsi,… “accused” Obama,Hawai, .. of crimes, so what ?
    We won’t take it serious. It’s more like considering/suggesting a possible crime
    than “accusing”. They may even consider it unlikely but don’t say that.

    it you omitted the fruitcake talk, your posts were much smaller and easier to create
    and read and would look much more scientific and unbiased. (IMO)

  5. gsgs says:

    there is also a question mark after the headline now.

    Savannah Guthrie proves that Obama was born in Huwaii?
    Or did she mean Huwai, Indonesia?
    By Mara Zebest

    And I can’t find the 2nd part there.
    > The Starting Image Contains Random Noise Caused by Optimization.

    • John Woodman says:

      The headline I really had reference to was the top one. It’s still the same.

      Savannah Guthrie Further Proves She’s Complicit:
      Hawaii Spelled Huwaii on Obama’s Birth Certificate

      • gsgs says:

        looks like the headline above the picture
        > Savannah Guthrie Further Proves She’s Complicit:
        > Hawaii Spelled Huwaii on Obama’s Birth Certificate

        and directly below the picture
        > A picture is worth a thousand words. Or in this case the
        > usurpation of the highest office in the land.

        was added by the site owner.

        while Zebest’s headlines next to her name
        > Savannah Guthrie proves that Obama was born in Huwaii?
        > Or did she mean Huwai, Indonesia?
        > By Mara Zebest

        had the question marks

  6. Sam the Centipede says:

    So, is Zebest ze worst?

    • John Woodman says:

      Sam — apologies that it took a while to approve your first post, which I didn’t see earlier to an email glitch.

      Any messages you post from now on should post immediately. Welcome to the party!

      And yes, I have sometimes found Ms. Zebest’s name slightly ironic. :-/

    • Suranis says:

      She’s simply Zebest.

  7. cavitekid says:

    Ah, the favored tactic ! If you enlarge things enough everything blurs and everyone can put their own interpretation on the facts.
    So , you take a doctored image, doctor it some more, enlarge it, and then prove that the letters don’t look like letters at all and that proves that x=y with no dispute. When you can not tell a H from an O in the blowup, it would be pretty hard to dispute anything!

  8. Mary Adams says:

    gsgs said: “they just picked only one reporter to touch
    and photograph it”

    We don’t know how many reporters got to see it up close and touch it.

    All we know is that recording devices and cameras were not allowed. Savannah used her cell phone to snap a pic.

  9. Dr of Many Things says:

    It seems the premier Israeli technology center decided to do its own assessment of Obama’s BC. They concluded that it is not just a forgery, but a very amateurish forgery that could not have started out as a paper document. What a bombshell, as these are not mere birther nutcases. This worries me, along with that very funky looking selective service card with the clipped and reversed year stamp. Is it true that the social security number was in a group from Connecticut that played out before Obama even applied for his? I am starting to think there is much validity to this entire mess, and wishing it away isn’t enogh anymore. The President must release his actual LFBC to bonafide documment experts for on camera analysis. I am afraid this Israeli report will turn a lot of Jewish votes that have been leaking away to the GOP for the last three years. If the document is real, well, the facts on camera will make them look like fooks and the election will be a cakewalk. If it turns out to be a fake, God forbid, I suppose the President will have to resign immediately and let Joe Biden run, perhaps with Hillary Clinton as a running mate. What are your thoughts on this crisis?

    • John Woodman says:

      My thoughts are that I find it literally astonishing that someone like Israel Hanukoglu could make such a claim.

      Really and truly.

      I guess it just shows you the power of mass stupidity, the bandwagon, political and financial motivation, propaganda, and the mob.

      An Israeli with a PhD is about the last person I would expect to buy into this mentality. But the world, apparently, is a very strange place.

    • John Woodman says:

      The “crisis,” by the way, is entirely a nonexistent and manufactured one.

    • John Woodman says:

      It also turns out that that particular page has been up for more than a year. The claims made were addressed long ago. I guess it just took WND a year to notice it. But they will publish any authority that agrees with their bogus claims, while ignoring any authority that disagrees with them.

      Even if a person is an idiot, WND will elevate them to the level of an “expert” — all they have to do is agree with WND’s birther scam.

      If I had been a more “practical” person, I would’ve written a book proclaiming the birth certificate a clear and obvious forgery, presented all kinds of bogus technical “evidence,” gotten them to market it, and split the profits with them.

      By the way, the “methodology” used to come to the conclusions the Israeli guy reached is astonishingly amateurish.

      You would do well to read the book that I wrote on the PDF technical issues. Also stay tuned to this blog for an update on the most current significant technical claims that have been made. That would be the claims made in July by Garrett Papit and Arpaio’s posse.

      • gorefan says:

        Mixed Raster Content Compression?

      • Slartibartfast says:

        John said:

        If I had been a more “practical” person, I would’ve written a book proclaiming the birth certificate a clear and obvious forgery, presented all kinds of bogus technical “evidence,” gotten them to market it, and split the profits with them.

        We’re glad that you aren’t using your powers for evil… 😉

    • gorefan says:

      “The President must release his actual LFBC”

      The state of Hawaii has certified the LFBC as being the same as original they have on file.

      So no the President doesn’t have to release anything else.

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