A card from the journal of Commerce.
A forgery.--A hoax, as ingenious in execution as it was infamous in design, was perpetrated yesterday on several of the morning papers connected with the Associated Press, ourselves among the number, by which we were led to publish, in part of our edition, a proclamation purporting to emanate from the President of the United States, but which soon proved to be a forgery. It is unnecessary to. waste words in characterizing the criminality of this hoax. Whatever its design, it was the basest and most infamous outrage on the public, as well as on the individual newspapers concerned. The injury done to ourselves is but a small matter in comparison with the public wrong attempted to be inflicted; nevertheless we owe it to ourselves, as well as to our readers, to explain the circumstances under which this fraud was effected. The utmost care and vigilance are exercised in our office, as our readers are well aware, but no amount of care in a well-regulated newspaper office seems to be sufficient to prevent frauds by persons who are acquainted with the internal economy of such an establishment. That some persons familiar with the telegraphic arrangements of the Associated Press, as well as with newspaper office hours and rules, was concerned in this forgery, we think cannot be doubted. We close our form regularly at about half-past 3 o'clock. Associated Press and other despatches are received frequently at the last moment, and sometimes after the form has gone down to the press-room. The Associated Press despatches are always written in a peculiar style, being manifolded on tissue paper, and having certain peculiarities of paging, &c., which mark them. At about half-past 3 on Tuesday morning, our form was so nearly closed that the foreman discharged the compositors, the entire force of night editors and proofreaders having already left. At this moment a despatch arrived, brought by a boy to the foreman, which was the proclamation in question. It was, in all respects, a perfect imitation of Associated Press despatches, in the minutest details of paper, paging, &c., and the foreman, thoroughly deceived, stopped a few of the men who had not yet gone out, and having set it up, inserted it in the form, so that it appeared in the latter portion of the morning edition — the early part of the edition not containing it. We may remark here, that the fraud was so perfect that we venture to affirm that ninety-nine men out of a hundred, placed in the situaiton of the foreman, would have been deceived, and would have acted as he did. The moment when editors have left, and the foreman is the responsible man, is well known to newspaper men as one of the most critical moments in the day's history of a newspaper. If any one suggests that it is better to reject everything at such a time, let him reflect that we frequently receive as late as half-past 3 o'clock A. M., urgent despatches from the War Department and other departments, the value of which to Government and people depends on their immediate publication, and let him also ask what verdict he would pass on any morning paper which refused to publish a despatch, proclamation or order from the President, which all the other papers published? This precise responsibility the author of the forgery understood, and timed his work accordingly. There must have been more than one man concerned. There was a thorough knowledge of telegraphic and Associated Press rules and customs, a clear acquaintance with newspaper offices, and an ingenious care in the procuring of manifold paper, and preparing the copy. There are numerous details of the manner in which the deception was perpetrated, which, for obvious reasons relating to the detection of the criminal, we, for the present, withhold. We may mention, however, that manifold copies, almost fac-similies of each other, being the usual form of despatches to the press, were sent to all the morning papers connected with the Associated Press except one, and the proclamation was published in three other papers besides our own, the deception being so perfect as to succeed in each instance. It excited some surprise in one office, but it was put in type, and a messenger sent to a neighboring office to make inquiries. In this case the other paper had not received it at all, and this circumstance created the first doubt as to its being an Associated Press despatch, and it was not put into the first-named paper. Another it reached too late, and yet another printed an edition of twenty thousand copies containing it, and suppressed most, if not all of it, on learning that the other papers doubted the authenticity. Our own remoteness from the offices of other papers forbade any such comparison of notes among the men employed. We have dwelt with such particularity on this fraud, because it is important that our readers and the public at large should know what ingenious scoundrels are at work, devising every possible method of deceiving the people, either for purposes of stock speculation or with intent to aid the enemies of the country. It is no pleasant duty to acknowledge ourselves, and our associates in the press, the victims of a forgery like this, but we trust that the exertions we are making personally, as well as all the members of the Associated Press, and the Government authorities, will result in the arrest of the forger, and his consignment to a fitting punishment.
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