Two public figures, John Edwards and Alger Hiss, test their memories against photographic evidence:
Selections of Bob Woodruff’s Interview With John Edwards
Aug. 8, 2008
WOODRUFF: People say they are in contact with her, have told us that you have met her out in California several times. True?
EDWARDS: I met her this last time when I was in California for the very purpose that you and I just spoke about.
WOODRUFF: And that picture is absolutely you and you are holding that baby.
EDWARDS: The picture in the tabloid. I have no idea what that picture is.
WOODRUFF: But you’ve seen it right?
EDWARDS: I did see it and I cannot make any sense out of that. When I went to this meeting you’ve already asked me about, uh, I was not wearing a t-shirt, I was wearing a long-sleeved shirt with the sleeves rolled up. I don’t know who that picture — I don’t know if that picture is me, it could well be, it looks like me. I don’t know who that baby is, I have no idea what that picture is.
WOODRUFF: But are you saying you don’t remember holding that child of Miss Hunter?
EDWARDS: I’m saying you asked me about this photograph, I don’t know anything about that photograph, I don’t know who that baby is. I don’t know if the picture has been altered, manufactured, if it’s a picture of me taken some other time, holding another baby — I have no idea. I was not at this meeting holding a child for my photograph to be taken I can tell you that.
WOODRUFF: You did say you did meet her at a hotel in California.
EDWARDS: She was there, Mr. McGovern was present, and that’s where the meeting took place.
WOODRUFF: But you don’t remember a baby being there?
TUESDAY, AUGUST 17, 1948
UNITED STATES HOUSE. OF REPRESENTATIVES,
SPECIAL SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE
COMMITTEE ON UN-AMERICAN ACTIVITIES,
New York, N. Y.
Committee on Un-American Activities
(August 17, 1948)
Mr. STRIPLING. Mr. Hiss, you say that person you knew as George Crosley, the one feature which you must have to check on to identify him is the dentures.
Mr. HISS. May I answer that my own way rather than just “Yes” or “No”?
Mr. STRIPLING. Well, now, I would like to preface whatever you are going to say by what I say first. I certainly gathered the impression when Mr. Chambers walked in this room and you walked over and examined him and asked him to open his mouth, that you were basing your identification purely on what his upper teeth might have looked like.
Now, here is a person that you knew for several months at least. You knew him so well that he was a guest in your home.
Mr. HISS. Would you–
Mr. STRIPLING. I would like to complete my statement-that he was a guest in your home, that you gave him an old Ford automobile, and permitted him to use, or you leased him your apartment and in this, a very important confrontation, the only thing that you have to check on is this denture; is that correct ? There is nothing else about this man’s features which you could definitely say, “This is the man I knew as George Crosley,” that you have to rely entirely on this denture; is that your position?
Mr. HISS. Is your preface through? My answer to the question you have asked is this:
From the time on Wednesday, August 4, 1948, when I was able to get hold of newspapers containing photographs of one Whittaker Chambers, I was struck by a certain familiarity in features. When I testified on August 5 and was shown a photograph by you, Mr. Stripling, there was again some familiarity features. I could not be sure that I had never seen the person whose photograph you showed me. I said I would want to see the person. The photographs are rather good photographs of Whittaker Chambers as I see Whittaker Chambers today. I am not given on important occasions to snap judgments or simple, easy statements. I am confident that George Crosley had notably bad teeth. I would not call George Crosley a guest in my house. I have explained the circumstances. If you choose to call him a guest, that is your affair.
Mr. STRIPLING. I am willing to strike the word “guest.” He was in your house.
Mr. HISS. I saw him at the time I was seeing hundreds of people. Since then I have seen thousands of people. He meant nothing to me except as one I saw under the circumstances I have described. My recollection of George Crosley, if this man had said he was George Crosley, I would have no difficulty in identification. He denied it right here. I would like and asked earlier in this hearing if I could ask some further questions to help in identification. I was denied that.
Mr. STRIPLING. I think you should be permitted.
Mr. HISS. I was denied that right. I am not, therefore, able to take an oath that this man is George Crosley. I have been testifying about George Crosley. Whether he and this man are the same or whether he has means of getting information from George Crosley about my house, I do not know. He may have had his face lifted.