Category Archives: Media

Fox Business News Proves Bob Ford/Jesse James Photo Hoax Is Reality TV

We predicted months ago that the Bob Ford/Jesse James photo hoax is a set-up for a reality TV show. Now, Fox Business News proves that the fake photo promoted by Sandy Mills & Lois Gibson is headed, in fact, for reality TV as predicted.
Strange Inheritance reality TV mastheard
Strange Inheritance, a production of Fox Business News

Fox feeds on fake fodder. With Bill O’Reilly going on “vacation” after losing advertising support, Fox Business News brings the Mills-Gibson hoax to its reality TV show “Strange Inheritance,” hosted by Jamie Colby.

More Lies Than Legend

It appears that O’Reilly’s fake history show “Legends & Lies” about Jesse James was not fake fodder enough for the fake news network.

Anyone with factual knowledge of Jesse James history who views O’Reilly’s show knows instantly from the opening scene that O’Reilly’s show is a downhill downer. Debunking O’Reilly’s fake history about Jesse James, the outlaw Jesse James never shot anyone in the back.

Fox “friends” the Hoax Cabal

From its “Media & Advertising” department, Fox Business News announced the program “Strange Inheritance” a week in advance. To promote the show, producer Brian Gaffney wrote and published his own promo “Heir Cashes in on Controversial Jesse James Photo.”

Brian Gaffney 2014 promo for “Strange Inheritance” reality TV show

In typical Fox fashion, Gaffney’s headline starts with two lies, necessary to the continuation of the Mills-Gibson hoax narrative. Debunking Gaffney’s headline, Sandy Mills is no heir of the Jesse James family, and her tintype is not a Jesse James photo.

However, wait. Maybe we should say the article opens with three lies. Who is this Brian Gaffney, the latest Mills-Gibson enabler to “friend” their hoax cabal?

Houston, We Have an Identity Problem

Long before the idea of a reality TV program came along, The Houston Chronicle introduced the fake claim of the Mills-Gibson hoax. A long list of enablers of the hoax tagged along for the ride. They have become known as the hoax cabal of alleged identity thieves. Like the hoaxers Sandy Mills and Lois Gibson, many suffered from issues of identity and veracity. It is not surprising that Fox Business News would find a publicity ally in Sandy Mills and Lois Gibson.

So now, the question must be asked. Who is Brian Gaffney? We know there is an identity problem.

Brian Gaffney-Reality TV producer
Brian Gaffney, producer of “Strange Inheritance,” a reality TV show from Fox Business News

Is this Brian Gaffney?

On LinkedIn, Brian Gaffney identifies himself as “Fox News Channel/Fox Business Network executive focusing primetime series, documentaries, 360 video and virtual reality.” He also identifies himself as a producer of “Strange Inheritance.” Despite having attended law school, virtual reality and reality TV are Gaffney’s medium.

Brian Gaffney is no stranger to identity politics, specifically those that affect the Fox Network. In 2015 Gaffney was engaged in protecting the network and defending Roger Ailes, soon to be fired from Fox arising from sexual harassment charges costing FOX $13 million in settlement fees. The Hollywood Reporter wrote about the sleazy identity games in its article “’Pawn Stars’ Producers Claim Fox News Network Execs Outed Gay Man in Reality TV Lawsuit.” It is not surprising Gaffney added the word “Controversial” in the title of Gaffney’s program announcement. Controversy is the grist of Fox media.

Brian Gaffney on IMDb
Brian Gaffney, as he appears in his IMDb profile as a producer for the Fox Network

On the other hand, is this Brian Gaffney?

IMDb, the Internet Movies Database, identifies this Brian Gaffney as a producer for Fox. He produced five episodes of “Fox News Reporting: The Right, All Along – The Rise, Fall, and Future of Conservatism.”

We are confident that, given Lois Gibson’s prodigious artist skills for photo imagery comparison, Gibson will prove both of these Brian Gaffneys as being one and the same person. In the moment, we take Gaffney’s own blog as evidence of who he is and will proceed on the basis of that identity.

REALITY TV or ALT-FACTS

Jamie Colby is the host of the forthcoming reality TV program. Colby is on the hunt for her next “shoot.” Trained as a lawyer, Colby sidesteps facts to sustain the corporate identity of the Fox Network that is “Fox Entertainment News.” Colby’s “Strange Inheritance” is not likely to produce any bonafide news.

Jamie Colby-Strange Inheritance Reality TV
Jamie Colby, host of “Strange Inheritance” and her “shoot”

Belying her lawyer training, Colby avoids substantive due diligence. Do not look for Colby to display any hard-hitting investigative reporting. Colby never contacted the Jesse James family regarding her show’s topic or the claims of the Mills-Gibson hoax. Reality TV is solely focused on diversion, advertising, ratings, and cash. Producing those results, and not necessarily facts or truth,  is what matters to Jamie Colby and Brian Gaffney.

As did Bill O’Reilly, right from the start Colby sets facts aside. Colby’s alt-facts begin in her trailer teaser for the show. Less than sixty seconds into her program teaser, Colby displays an image long debunked by the Jesse James family as a fake.

Less than a minute and a half into Colby’s story, Sandy Mills changes the story that she has promoted for almost two years. Mills does not state she is a relative of Jesse James. Instead, Colby reports, “her forebears occasionally aided Jesse James.”

Auctioneer Robb Burley appears in the trailer, proclaiming “We’ve heard anything from $50,000 to a half million dollars.” That is a substantial reduction from “the millions” Mills formerly touted she was aiming to receive for her fake photo. If Burley’s estimate expectation was true, you would think Burley would salivate over collecting the customary seller’s fee following a successful auction. Curiously, Burley waived his fee, choosing instead to be compensated by his association with the notoriety of the Mills-Gibson hoax.

BUYER IDENTIFIED
Bonafide Collector, Auction Shill, or Reality TV Conspirator?

The name Terry Verburgt is not one recognized among the known collectors of Jesse James artifacts or Western relics. Gaffney and Colby identify Terry Verburgt as the auction bidder who presumably paid $35,000 for Mills’ tintype. In the auction sale and purchase, there is no evidence of cash payment actually being made. Regulars who attend Burley auctions stated at the time of the sale that Verburgt was not a regular attendee at Burley auctions, nor was he known to them.

So, who is Terry Verburgt, who suddenly appears in circles where he should be known and recognized, but was not? We doubt Colby will investigate that in her show. Regardless, we have done some due diligence of our own.

Terry Verburgt is a resident of New Braunfels, Texas, where Robb Burley’s auction gallery is located. Verburgt appears to be a gold prospector who enjoys displaying his knowledge. Formerly, Verburgt was a VP and director of an aerospace supply company.

Most curiously, Terry Verburgt is a registered director of M. Windberg Galleries. The Windberg Art Center in Georgetown, Texas, is a seller of art supplies. In the art world, the track record, provenance, and reputation are always a prime consideration in regard to a prospective purchase. How aberrant is it that someone from an art supply company dishes out an exorbitant $35,000 ready cash to buy a questionable and controversial artifact that has no bonafide provenance, track record,  or formal scientific authentication? Who would do so just on say-so? Was the say-so of artist Lois Gibson alone worth $35,000? This acquisition does not pass the smell test.

Reality TV crew of Strange Inheritance
Jamie Colby, Brian Gaffney, and the crew of Fox News’ reality TV show Strange Inheritance
Now We Remember

Sandy Mills is not an heir of the Jesse James family, nor is she a relative. Her tintype is not Robert Ford and Jesse James.

Lois Gibson is not a forensic scientist who can produce a scientific forensic report to authenticate an historical image.  Gibson is only an artist.

Robb Burley took no fee for his auction, but he had a film crew on site to video his auction. There is no evidence he actually received $35,000.

The buyer Terry Verburgt came our of nowhere. He’s in the art supply business like Lois Gibson. He was unknown to Burley’s auction regulars.

Now Fox Business News appears to create a reality TV show around all this nonsense. Where lies a legitimate business interest here?

Red flags were waving over this charade from the start. We foretold the Bob Ford/Jesse James photo hoax of Sandy Mills and Lois Gibson was headed for a reality TV show. Now it has come to pass.

The Bob Ford/Jesse James photo hoax is nothing more than a reality TV show, a hoax faked about a fake historical artifact for a network that specializes in fake news and now perhaps faked entertainment.

Now, do I hear a higher bid for all this fakery? I have one. It’s a book, titled Identity Thieves.

RELATED:

Lost Jesse James Photo – Not Lost Lost, Not Authenticated

Enablers of the Bob Ford/Jesse James Photo Hoax

Auction Gallery Partners in Jesse James Photo Hoax

Defamation Suit Threatened in Jesse James Photo Hoax

Photo Hoax Attracts Foreign Curiosity

Jesse James, Robert Ford, and the Tintype by Mark Bampton

MEN of the Jesse James Family-Photo Comparisons

Jesse James Look-Alikes from Within His Family

James-Younger Gang 2017 Conference-A Forensic Analysis of the Bob Ford/Jesse James Photo Hoax

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2015 Year In Review & 2016 Crystal Ball

Stray Leaves favicon
Favicon for Stray Leaves

The year 2015 presented significant challenges for our Stray Leaves website and our blog Leaves of Gas. Despite those challenges,  the statistics show that more visits generated more hits, more page views, and more file downloads than in previous years. Now we look into our crystal ball for 2016.

Right now, our 2016 crystal ball shows us a future for Stray Leaves that is both clouded and bright. If difficulties can be overcome by more investment and website improvement, the probability exists that Stray Leaves and Leaves of Gas will progress to become a better research resource and a more influential source of information as it approaches its 20th anniversary in 2018.

THE 2015 BOTTOM LINE

  • Number of annual visits:  477,092
  • Number of annual hits:  9,764,670 or 9.8 million plus
  • Number of annual page views:  7,155,636 or 7.1 million plus
  • Number of annual file downloads:  7,231,751 or 7.2 million plus

IT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER

stats-ericjames.org SL Stats 02-12 2015

The year 2015 began with a recovery from a hack to Leaves of Gas that occurred in November of 2014. Recovery of the blog took three months.

The devastation from the hack proved a blessing in disguise. As Google downgraded Leaves of Gas in public searches as a hacked website, Google also quickly identified the posts and pages that were affected by the hack. Google’s identification made it easy to recapture the blog posts from our backup archive. With the removal by Google of the designation of hacked website, all might have seemed restored to normal.  However, Google presented another challenge for Leaves of Gas.

In an effort to present quality content at the top of Google searches, Google changed its algorithms. Anticipating that mobile applications are poised to overtake desktop applications, as more and more people access the web via tablet or smartphone, Google announced that it would give priority in search strings to websites that are mobile responsive and which produce content of high quality. To keep the priority status Stray Leaves earned over so many years, Stray Leaves and Leaves of Gas had to adapt to the new requirement from Google to become mobile friendly.

2015 IMPROVEMENTS

Being mobile friendly means changing everything about Stray Leaves and Leaves of Gas .and its presentation. Given the gigantic size of our website and blog, the prospect could take years. The first alteration was to meet Google’s requirement for a “landing page.”

Welcome swf-Stray Leaves
Old landing page for Stray Leaves. Now a WELCOME page.

Our WELCOME page that was created five years ago no longer was viable to Google as a landing page. Steve Jobs intended to kill flash websites, by rendering them no longer accessible on smartphone or on tablets. Our WELCOME section was constructed on a flash platform. Now our WELCOME page sits in semi-retirement as a link on the menu for Leaves of Gas. Those who still access the web via laptop or desktop can still access the old WELCOME page. At the front door of our website now is our new landing page which is Google compliant.

Landing Page-Stray Leaves
New Landing page for Stray Leaves

Our changeover from flash to mobile friendly landing page cost us valuable web traffic.  For almost three months, visits to Stray Leaves fell by almost half over 2014 statistics. To return to par required more improvements.

Surnames-Stray Leaves
Stray Leaves famous SURNAMES genealogy database

Our SURNAMES genealogy research database has always been a premiere attraction of our website. Since its inception in 1997, the 55,000+ web pages that make up the database have been a magnet for genealogists and for researchers looking into much more than the genealogy of the James family alone.

But our database was built on a 1997 software platform. That software is no longer supported by its creator. The old platform inadequately serves Google’s standard of today for a mobile-friendly presentation. Not yet finding a suitable substitute, the existing software was re-coded to improve screen visibility for mobile devices. Still lingering is the need to find another new platform for the database altogether. That is a project for 2016.

A HIT BY ANY OTHER NAME IS ANOTHER HACK

By summer and into the fall of 2015, our website and blog began to recapture lost audience and its priority standing in Google searches. At the beginning of October, however, the arrival of the detestable Bob Ford/Jesse James Photo Hoax shot our statistics into the stratosphere. We were poised for a ceiling breakthrough. But a follow-up story on the hoax cabal brought everything to a crash. Leaves of Gas was hacked again. This hack appeared to emanate from Houston, Texas, the home of the hoaxers.

Leaves of Gas-screenshot
The upgraded Leaves of Gas theme with improved drop down menu, search, and email capabilioty

This time, repair to Leaves of Gas took about thirty days. Using a security backup file of the entire blog installed after the previous hack, the entire blog was restored. Then, security was doubled. Within ten days, stats were restored to pre-hack level. Since then, stats have continued on an upward trajectory.

2016 CRYSTAL BALL – MORE IMPROVEMENT IS REQUIRED

Our crystal ball for 2016 tells us, the oldest section of Stray Leaves still is in need of a very challenging makeover. The CONTENTS and JESSE JAMES pages, together with their ARCHIVED CONTENT and NEW FOUND LINES subpages, must still be transcribed, remounted, and presented again in a new mobile friendly theme. Another year may be required to achieve this.

store website
Screenshot of Jesse James Soul Liberty website

Further complicating needed improvement to the Stray Leaves and Leaves of Gas website and blog is the additional need to revamp the website for Jesse James Soul Liberty. Funding that could easily have continued to support our website and blog has been directed to research, promotion, and publications for producing our epic five-volume history of the Jesse James family. Our present book website is not recognized by Google as being mobile-friendly. This, too, needs to change. Our entire book website needs to be republished for both ease of use and ease of customer purchase of our family history books and related souvenirs to come.

Left waiting on the horizon remains our plans for the Joan Beamis Studio for film, video, and podcast production, and for continuing Jesse James Family and Gang reunions, highlighting and celebrating the unique contributions to society by slected members of the James family.

Meanwhile, the cost of making the required improvements, plus the need for added security, up-to-date software, editorial applications, design, storage  and other services, arise from the former hobby level of Stray Leaves to a new level of professionalism. Time has come to recognize that Stray Leaves and Leaves of Gas must have financial underwriting to support this new professional level of service and to continue as an effective research resource.

YOUR OPINION MATTERS

Can your crystal ball see the future of Stray Leaves and Leaves of Gas?Our options for badly needed support and underwriting are limited.

  1. Should our website and blog accept advertisements?
  2. Should patronage or corporate sponsorship be sought?
  3. Should the SURNAMES database be put on a paid subscription basis?
  4. Should Leaves of Gas become a paid membership site?
  5. Or, should our website and blog continue to sustain free use solely through the support of user and visitor donations?

SEND ME AN EMAIL. Let me know your thoughts.

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Bob Ford-Jesse James Photo Hoax Cabal

Bob Ford-Jesse James photo hoax JJSL

In the Bob Ford – Jesse James photo hoax formerly written about HERE, a cabal of hoaxers assembled to perpetrate a case of identity theft, at the expense of factual history and in violation of the identity of the Jesse James family.

Through an ample misapplication of fantasy, imagination, slight of eye magic, chicanery, and purposely deceitful tabloid and broadcast journalism, the cabal sought to beguile, hoodwink, and defraud an unknowledgeable audience for the purpose of promoting fake imagery of Bob Ford and Jesse James and for reaping an imaginary million dollar windfall.

THE CABAL OF HOAXERS

The principal motivating forces behind the Bob Ford-Jesse James photo hoax is without doubt Sandy Mills, Lois Gibson, Dylan Baddour, and the Houston Chronicle. Whether the others who followed were witting or unwitting accomplices, each as writer and publishers had a fiduciary duty to investigate and report the truth of the opposite side of Sandy Mills’ story. They did not. But others did.

Among the responsible writers and publishers, the Canadian Broadcasting Company dropped the story from publication altogether. CNN’s Michael Pearson questioned the image’s authenticity and claim.  Christopher Klein who writes for  A&E’s History rewrote his initial story to present the James family’s objection and argument. Elleda Wilson who picked up the story for the Daily Astorian wrote a followup story when alerted about the hoax.

Without doubt, calling out the hoaxers of the Bob Ford-Jesse James fake photo fraud, will not put an end to the constant flow of images claimed to be Jesse James. Within the period of the present hoax, two more claimed images arrived at Stray Leaves, claiming to be authentic images of Jesse James.

UPDATE: Jan 12, 2017
Robert Wilson Burley
Robb Burley, owner of Burley Auction Gallery

The next stage in the Bob Ford-Jesse James photo hoax has been announced by Burley Auction Gallery. The auction house and its owner Robb Burley have been added to the cabal of hoaxers engaged in this act of identity theft.

In addition, we also are adding to the hoax cabal, the website PRWeb and article author Nikki Thibodeaux. The specific identity of Thibodeaux formerly was unknown until Robb Burley provided an actual photo of her. Thibodeaux is an associate of Robb Burley.

Thibodeaux & Burley
Nikki Thibodeaux and Robb Burley
prweb
PRWeb’s promotion

The Smack & Zing of This Bloody Ground

This Bloody Ground, Volume II of the Jesse James Soul Liberty quintet
Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol. II, This Bloody Ground

Daniel Boone and John M. James are ancestors of today’s descendants of Jesse James. In the present film documentary Daniel Boone & the Opening of the American West, Boone once more cuts a path and trail for Jesse’s grandfather John M. James, again today as Boone did in the past. The film is worth viewing as a preview of the smack and zing of John’s own history, soon to come in my book This Bloody Ground.

In recent years, as I sat in Danville, Kentucky, writing the story of Frank & Jesse James’ grandfather as the second book of my Jesse James Soul Liberty quintet, Kent Masterson Brown was in Lexington, Kentucky, beginning his journey of three years to bring Boone to film.

Both my book and Brown’s film cover the same period, the same territory, many of the same people, and a lot of the same history. However, each of us delivers a different view. Much of Boone’s story, as Brown tells it, is located north of the Kentucky River. The story of John M. James in This Bloody Ground, as might be expected, resides south of the Kentucky River.

Brown credits Boone in part with opening the Northwest Territory that became everything from Ohio west to Minnesota. John M. James and his band of rebel Baptist preachers, not only opened the West from colonial Virginia to Missouri Territory, but also way beyond into the Far West, to the Rockies and California.

Daniel Boone is a star in history’s firmament, replete with legend and misleading mythology, which Brown goes to great length to extinguish in a shower of facts. John M. James, for the most part, is unknown to legend, mythology, or fact. Equally, unknown is the origination in John’s Kentucky of many of those families affiliated with John who later spawned their own history of the American West.

Kent Masterson Brown
Kent Masterson Brown

I have enjoyed the former historical work of Kent Masterson Brown. Brown resembles for me the often fabled Kentucky lawyer whose telling of a good history lesson, more than a trial, vindicates justice. His voice that speaks through grit is invaluable. Brown and I are in the same business. Maybe that explains our mutual fondness for a neat and tidy bow tie.

Scitt New as Daniel Boone
Scott New portrays Daniel Boone

As a boy, John M. James tried to join Daniel Boone, when Boone stood beside his wagon in Stevensburg, Virginia, seeking recruits to enter the dark and unknown wilderness. Though John was too young for Boone to accept, each man became a pioneer. Each did so in his own way. Each has had a lasting effect on American history.

In This Bloody Ground, I will argue, however, that John M. James was more an average person’s pioneer. John M. James, not Daniel Boone, produced a more lasting effect relative to the common person. The legacy of John M. James endures in the social, religious, and political culture of America.

The marriage of Jesse’s son Jesse Edwards James Jr. to Estella Frances “Stella” McGowan might have appeared surprising at the time. It should not. He is a great-grandson of John M. James. She is a third great granddaughter of Daniel Boone. Their marriage represents the reunion of Daniel Boone and John M. James. For today and all tomorrows, the descendants of Jesse James will be the progeny of a star pioneer and a pioneer of the common man.

To view the entire program of Daniel Boone and the Opening of the West, and to savor the smack and zing of This Bloody Ground coming this year, CLICK HERE. The program may not be available for very long.

Hot to Trot for How to Write Family History

Writing my presentations for the upcoming annual conference of the Ohio Genealogical Society has me super-charged.

Program presentations by Eric F. James for the Ohio Genealogical Society Annual Conference 2015
Program presentations by Eric F. James for the Ohio Genealogical Society Annual Conference 2015

It makes no sense at all though if I show up in front of my audience all hot to trot only to find that my audience needs a warm-up.

I hate losing ten minutes of precious presentation time, or lose content from either of my two talks:  “From Bodice Ripper to Jack the Ripper, How To Write a Family History Everyone Wants to Read,” and “How to Publish, Sell, or Give Away a Family History Everyone Wants to Read.”  I want my audience jazzed from the moment they walk into the conference room.

Program for talks by Eric F. James at the Ohio  Genealogical Society Annual Conference 2015
Program for talks by Eric F. James at the Ohio Genealogical Society Annual Conference 2015

My solution is to grab their interest with the following video that will arrest their attention the moment they walk in the door.

As the audience takes their seats, this video already is at work relaxing the house and setting the tone for my talk. If everything  goes as expected, the video is building anticipation, excitement, and readiness for my moment to appear. In fact, I can play the same video after my talk, and have them dancing out the door.

Next, I just have to find a way of keeping the attention of anyone who takes a potty break.

Viewers of this video may recognize some of its images. They were used first in banners appearing on the Facebook page for my book Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol. I. My own book cover appeared in the box “My Book Here.”

Since I change Facebook banners often, I had plenty of banners from which to choose. The ones I selected for use in this video chiefly reflect upon the content contained in my talks.

Which Makes a Better Genealogy TV Program?

What makes one genealogy TV program better than another? The top two genealogy programs are Who Do You Think You Are and Finding Your Roots. One is better than the other because one more accurately reflects the real genealogy experience.

Who Do you Think You Are TV ProgramFinding Your Roots TV Program

Both programs, however, misrepresent genealogy for what it is. That’s because both programs are constructed as entertainments. A television program, devised from the need to attract a defined audience demographic, cannot ever be true to its subject, because the program will be skewed towards the demographic. In essence, the only general audience appeals the program may have in the end is an appeal to entertain.

In the Finding Your Roots TV program, Henry Louis Gates presents himself as an authoritarian who will show to a subject’s surprise unknown facts about the subject’s past. His narrative discoveries appear, as if by magic. There’s no insight for the audience into the magician’s bag of tricks. Nothing is required of the focal subject, or of the audience for that matter, other than to sit back and be entertained by Mr. Gates’ wizardry.

On the other hand, the TV program Who Do You Think You Are actually displays a journey of personal discovery. The subject must travel from place to place, from one institution to another, often seeking help, to find the desired evidence of fact, often coming up short. The journey may produce yet another clue for yet another segment of discovery, leading in the end to a satisfactory conclusion though trial and error to accomplishment and fulfillment, regardless of one’s originally desired expectation. This more closely represents the real genealogy experience.

Ironically, Who Do You Think You Are displays the warrior experience of mythology. The program shows an individual can arise from the unknown to go forward. That person can be tested and tried, over and over, and ultimately return home to one’s family, or tribe, as a hero, who now is the enlightened one. This in fact is how genealogists become heroes among their families. Genealogists are the heroes families turn to. They are ones who hold the tested knowledge, the truth, and the history. Genealogists become family leaders.

Mr. Gates, though, would prefer to be every family’s leader and hero. That’s as much an unrealistic expectation as the leaf in the ancestry.com television commercial, which promises if you simply click on it, all your family ancestry will magically be provided.

It is not surprising if viewers might not identify with the genealogy experience presented to them in these television programs. Viewers are passive receptors, nothing more than observers. Few among them have been warrior tested. But, if they were, they soon would recognize the weaknesses in these entertainments. In fact, they would probably come to prefer sifting through old records in the basement of a dingy courthouse basement, to sitting comfortably in their lounge chair, awaiting the big reveal. If they’d just go and be tested, they would return with stories as magical, entertaining, informative, and enlightening.