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The Education Forum

Jack White and the old Switch-er-oo!

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So now we know.

The White/Fetzer claim that the Moorman photo demonstrates Zapruder film fakery has used up hundreds (if not thousands) of research hours over the last decade. The oddity is that the claim is false on its face. If you take the illustration Fetzer and White used to explain the claim and if you remove the red lines from the illustration, it’s clear by inspection that it’s false.


White and Fetzer claim that the left front corner of the Zapruder pedestal lines up with the bottom right corner of the pergola window behind it. In explaining the illustration above, White writes:

“I discovered a point within the photo that aligned 2 widely disparate points such that their alignment established that unique line-of-sight. At the left is a graphic image of the points of reference I aligned, which are easily located in the plaza. Two edges of the window openings in the rear of the paragola (sic) (A and B in the photo exactly coincide with the top and south edge of the pedestal (C and D).”

The red lines put there by Fetzer and White cover up the area in question. When they are removed, however, it is clear that what White says is just false. The two points don’t line up. The two edges of the window openings don’t line up with the top and south edge of the pedestal. The claim is wrong by inspection.

Why then has it endured so long and used up so many research hours in its refutation?

Last night, in debate with Jack White on a thread called “Flushing the full-flush-left argument,” I learned the answer. Jack White switched the evidence without telling anyone!

To explain this properly you need to know a little bit about what copies of the Moorman photo came into existence, when they came into existence, and how they were made.


A full-frame photo shows the Moorman Polaroid propped-up against a wall with a Zippo lighter along the right frame border.... hence the name “Zippo copy.”


This photo was taken by an unknown law enforcement officer without Moorman’s knowledge on the afternoon of November 22nd while she was being questioned. It was taken with an inexpensive “box camera” that used standard, grainy film. Therefore, enlargements from this negative are plagued by grain breakup and are of low resolution. As John Costella has pointed out, this is the “blurriest” of all Moorman copies. Since it was copied so soon after exposure, the fingerprint that mars later copies has not developed. A copy from this version eventually found its way to the Associated Press and was distributed on the AP wire within a few days.


Either on November 22nd (or very soon thereafter), the FBI obtained Moorman’s photo and copied it. That copy languished in the files of the FBI Dallas field office for two decades.

In the early 1980s, Gary Mack was working with Jack White on their “Badge Man” theory. One of Gary’s colleagues at a TV station, Ed Martelle, wondered if the FBI had a Moorman copy and contacted the Dallas FBI office. A copy was made of the Moorman photo and delivered to the reporter who gave it to Mack. He loaned it to Jack White who then made copies that he retained. The FBI print shows the entire Moorman photograph. Since the Polaroid was copied at least during that weekend, it shows that the fingerprint has not yet emerged with clarity.


The Moorman photo became important to me during the production of Six Seconds in Dallas because it showed an anomalous shape along the stockade fence approximately fifteen feet west of the corner. Consequently, I searched various photo agencies for the best copies of the photograph. In addition, I contacted Mary Moorman and paid her to permit a Dallas professional photographer to copy her Polaroid. It was copied in February 1967 using a camera that produced 4" by 5" negatives even larger than the original Polaroid print. The photographer used those negatives to make several 8" by 10" prints.

In January 2002, when Moorman-in-the-street came into controversy, I had the photographer’s original copy negative (not a print) scanned at 2400 dpi by Octagon Digital Media in San Francisco. Using a drum scanner on the original negative avoided any defects or artifacts introduced during the printing process. CDs with the results of that scan were then distributed to anyone who wanted one including Jack White and James Fetzer.

Given the deterioration of the original Polaroid print both before and after February 1967 and the cropped nature of the UPI print, the drum scan copy of the Moorman photo may be one of the highest resolution copies in existence. Unfortunately, even by 1967 the badly deteriorated Polaroid had lost a lot of detail as indicated by the fingerprint that mars its surface.


This copy originates with Jack White. In the mid-1980s, White asked a photographer friend of his, Gordon Smith, to copy the Moorman Polaroid. Gary Mack arranged with Moorman to borrow the Polaroid and the Moorman camera. Smith, whose photography studio also provided “restoration” of faded pictures, did so and turned the results over to White. Since then, White has posted this copy several times on the internet. It is clear that between 1967 and 1985 (when this copy was made) the Polaroid original had decayed further. The fingerprint clearly mars its surface.


In terms of resolution, the Drum Scan copy is probably the best. It was made by a professional photographer who produced a negative the size of the original Polaroid and did all this in 1967. Next in quality is either the FBI photo copied from the original Polaroid in 1963 or the Gordon Smith copy that Jack White had made in the mid-1980s. Last by a longshot is the Zippo copy. It was shot with an inexpensive box camera at a distance from the Polaroid. The difference between the blurry Zippo Copy and the rest is obvious. This is why John Costella pointed out that it was the “blurriest” of all.

Over the last few years, Jack White has been defending his Moorman claim by publishing versions of the Zippo Copy with lines drawn on it.

Because of grain break-up in the enlargements it is difficult to see where exactly things are in this version. He is doing this, obviously, because if he tried to draw the lines on any of the higher resolution copies it would be clear that they were misdrawn, that the points he has in mind don’t line up.

If White and Fetzer had used the Zippo Copy from the beginning to make their arguments, it would seem bizarre but would not be cheating. But how about if they actually did something else? What if they started out using one of the higher resolution copies, covered up the relevant area with red lines, and then claimed the higher resolution copy showed what in fact it didn’t show? Wouldn’t that strike any of us as cheating? To avoid that conclusion, last night Jack White made the quite amazing claim that he had used the Zippo Copy to make the original illustration. In separate posts, he wrote:

“The illustration in MIDP used the ZIPPO copy... Well, I reaffirm that the Zippo copy is what I used. Here is a hi-res scan of the entire Zippo. Note the "black dot" which he says is virtually invisible. He needs to to visit his opthalmologist right away. I do not understand how he can "divine" which of many Moorman copies I used, when I have records of all and KNOW what I did.”

“Divining” what Moorman copy White and Fetzer used to make up their illustration is not that difficult. We start with the illustration itself:


Now we ask: Was the Zippo copy the basis for this illustration? Obviously, not. The Zippo Copy showed gross grain break-when you reached this level of enlargement. The clincher however was provided by Craig Lamson. He noticed that in the illustration itself there is an indication that the fingerprint is present on the photo being used. Since no fingerprint was apparent on the Zippo Copy this proves it was made using one of the high resolution copies, probably the Gordon Smith Copy. Since Jack White has never produced a high resolution scan of the Gordon Smith copy, this is the best I can produce:


Next is an enlargement from the Gordon Smith copy of the approximate size of MIDP illustration. Note fragments of fingerprint present in red circled area:


Jack White has not yet admitted to the old switch-er-oo he pulled in abandoning the high resolution copy present in his illustration and starting to use the blurriest copy of the Moorman photo available. Why did he abandon the higher resolution copy? Of course, because it showed he was wrong. The result has been the waste of countless hours of research time in pursuing a claim that is false by inspection. Of course, if you’re never wrong you must never be seen to be wrong. [i would like to point out that I had other photos set up to illustrate the argument but the Ed Forum would not let me use them. Sorry.]

Josiah Thompson

Edited by Josiah Thompson
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