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Land of the lost: Left-wing blogs get punked

By Michelle Malkin  •  April 4, 2007 05:28 PM

Take a close look at this photo–focus on the folder tucked under Karl Rove’s arm and keep a mental note of what’s on the TV monitor (big hat tips to Gid and Ace):


Now, look at all the heavy breathing from left-wing blogs about the name on the folder, “Coptix:”

Daily Kos
Guerilla Women TN

The lefty bloggers ran wild with assertions and speculations that Coptix, a Chattanooga Internet firm, was serving as some sort of nongovernment back-door e-mail administration for White House correspondence.

Corrente started the moonbat swarm with this fevered, tinfoil-hatted dot-connecting:

Now, who—you may ask—is Coptix? Let’s review:

Coptix administers gwb43.com’s nameservers. (Rove privatized his email at gwb43.com, in violation of the Presidential Records Act)…

Here’s the information for gwb43.com:

Domain Name: GWB43.COM
Administrative Contact, Technical Contact:
Republican National Committee dns@RNCHQ.ORG
310 First Street SE
Washington, DC 20003
999 999 9999 fax: 999 999 9999
Record expires on 16-Jan-2008.
Record created on 16-Jan-2004.
Database last updated on 21-Mar-2007 17:45:46 EDT.
Domain servers in listed order:

Now, as Xan showed, the nameserver (“NS” for nameserver) A.NS.TRESPASSERS-W.NET is administered by Coptix—the Chattanooga hosting service whose brochure Rove was carrying under under his fat arm in the photograph above.

So: Karl went out and hired his own, bespoke, politically wired nameserver company. Of course, Karl would never give business to any company that hadn’t sworn fealty to the authoritarian agenda, but I imagine Karl is also getting a level of, erm, personal service that he wouldn’t get from a fiddy-dollar administrator like GoDaddy or Yahoo or whatever. And it would be irresponsible not to speculate what those services were:

1. Trivially, namespace administration is one of those niggling, paperwork-type tasks that everyone puts off, but forget to renew your domain name, and your carefully crafted online identity gets hijacked by some DFH parodist or a cybersquatter who sells it to an Australian porn farm. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) When that kind of awkwardness happens, Shooter’s not pleased. So it’s nice to have an administrator that watches that kind of stuff for you.

2. As we saw above, the phone number for gwb43.com, the domain that Coptix administers for (presumably) Karl, is listed this way:

999 999 9999 fax: 999 999 9999

So, either Karl gave Coptix a false phone number (which is illegal, since it would only help terrorists), or Coptix is concealing the number for them. (I wonder how ICANN would feel about that?).

3. Nameserver administrators also provide email forwarding, which is the equivalent of call-forwarding on the Intertubes. So, if Karl wanted to store all his email safely offshore in, oh, American Samoa or Guam, then Coptix would be the company to do that for him.

4. If a new nameserver needs to be swapped in, it’s easy and quick to do with a single phone call.

5. All the administrative details—contact information, payment details, change privileges—can be placed in the hands of people Karl owns trusted individuals.

6. As a consequence, it’s much easier for Karl to instantly have records destroyed with a phone call to a minion; Godaddy and the rest just aren’t set up to do that.

“Services like storing one’s email safely offshore, or perhaps records destruction could be handled in a snap of those porcine little fingers,” anti-Rove crusader Jane Hamsher opined bitterly at Firedoglake.

Only guess what?

The photo was an April Fools’ weekend prank. And the Rove Derangement Syndrome crowd fell for it hook, line, and sinker.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported today:

A Chattanooga Internet firm doctored a photo of White House aide Karl Rove to show him holding a folder with the company’s logo, fueling speculation in the blogosphere that the president’s top adviser is running White House correspondence through a nongovernment e-mail system.

“It’s easy for people to plant disinformation and misinformation out there,” said Josiah Roe, executive vice president of Coptix, based in St. Elmo.

Mr. Roe said the company altered the photo and placed it on the Internet after bloggers implied that Coptix was involved in a “vast right-wing conspiracy” because the company — along with another local firm, SmarTech — provides an Internet service for the Republican National Committee.

A domain name set up by the RNC, gwb43.com, appeared on correspondence between White House officials discussing U.S. attorney vacancies, The Associated Press reported. The subsequent firings of eight federal prosecutors have sparked a Congressional investigation.

Mr. Roe said his firm altered the photograph as a humorous way to get exposure for Coptix, which also does work for the Chattanooga Times Free Press Web site. But at least two widely read blogs accepted the doctored photo as fact.

A blogger on the Daily Kos blog wrote that “it’s unlikely to have been a Photoshop job,” while a blogger for Wonkette wrote that the photo “proves without doubt that Karl Rove is illegally running all the White House e-mail through a private company.”

Coptix president Josiah Roe explained further:

Somehow, nobody noticed that the story happened to break on the weekend of April Fool’s Day.

Yes, it’s true: it’s not true. We used Photoshop to superimpose the name of our company and a folder under Rove’s arm, and asked a local “right winger” to plant it on his blog.

The timing could not have been more perfect, especially given the atmosphere of suspicion that Rove & Co. are doing business via e-mail that is hosted at Chattanooga’s Smartech/Airnet Group, rather than federal servers. Coptix, our company, provides backup DNS hosting for Smartech/Airnet. So when any well-meaning muckraker runs a search for domain names such as “gwb43.com” or “georgewbush.com,” the nameservers listed for those domain names will include the Smartech server and a Coptix server.

DNS hosting does not involve user accounts or storage, in fact, Coptix has no contact whatsoever with the RNC or anyone in the current president’s administration. DNS is simply the basic routing of Internet traffic. In fact, it’s one of the most basic technologies that govern the Internet.

Since we have no knowledge of the content on these servers — and since Coptix has employees and customers of all political stripes — we were surprised that at the end of last week we noticed a good deal of blogger buzz going on around these domain names. Not to mention that this buzz included questions such as “Who is Smartech?,” “Who is Coptix?” and “Are they part of a vast right-wing conspiracy?”

So we decided to run an experiment…

Since it was April Fool’s weekend, in the tradition of George Plimpton and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), we decided to have some fun. We asked one of our Web designers, Ron Ott, to put our name on a photograph that had originally been posted on a local blogger’s diary (with his permission, of course). Thank you Adobe, 15 minutes later Coptix’s name was emblazoned on a folder.

Note that we even put in a giveaway that the photo was a fake. The television in the top right corner is showing fantastical creatures from the 1974 television series “Land of the Lost.”

Remember I told you to take note of the TV monitor image? Here’s the original:

Attack of the Neocon Sleestaks!

Next, Roe wrote:

…Then we left comments on various blogs and social networking sites linking back to the original post. Bloggers immediately picked up the images, and we watched the misinformation filter upward and outward. We also modified our personal and professional blog posts to show pleasure at the photograph, so any unscrupulous researcher could jump to conclusions.

This has driven tens of thousands of visitors to our Web site. From all indications the story has not reached its peak (Wonkette even made the doctored photo into an advertisement for their site), but we consider our web marketing experiment a success. Viral marketing and social networking are modern communication tools that can be leveraged to drive exposure to a particular brand. Which, in this case, was us.

Ace has a raucous roast of Wonkette and notes:

Now, the thing is, this was a decent prank, and I, personally, wouldn’t be terribly embarrassed about being taken in by it. I’m notoriously slapdash in my own, um, “reporting,” so this sort of thing would probably get by me. And I would be embarrassed about it, a bit, but I’d fess up and say “I was punk’d, they got me. Sorry.”

The shrieking ninnies at Wonkette can’t do that, though. They can never simply admit they made an error. And thus — similar to in the case of the Malkin photoshop — they now appear to claim they never really believed any of it and and they kinda knew it was all a lark the whole time!

At least the pathetic bunch at Wonkette has mentioned the ruse. As of 5:00pm Eastern today, Firedoglake was still treating the photo as real.


Like Wonkette, other left-wing bloggers are bitterly attacking Coptix for their “dirty trick”–instead of owning up.

You were had. Can you all swallow and make stand-alone corrections (here is how conservative bloggers make corrections, by the way)?

Or will you find another way to lay this all at the feet of the Evil Genius Karl Rove and his co-conspirators:

Chaka, member of the VWRC

Posted in: Karl Rove,Nutroots

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