The AP’s Revolting Romney Photo: As Low As It Goes

The AP has apologized for running this misleading, undignified, offensive photograph of Mitt Romney, suggesting that he was happily mooning a shocked girl. In fact, he was in the act of sitting down for a photo, and the girl was showing surprise that the presidential candidate would be sitting next to her.

Apology not accepted.

Of course, as the apology states,

“….some photos demand more explanation and we fell short of our own standards by not providing it in this case.

That doesn’t begin to excuse or explain why such a photo ever made it to print in the first place. It’s a poor, unprofessional photo. It makes a presidential candidate look foolish through no fault of his own, and worst of all, it exploits a child. Why did it run? Why did an AP editor think it was appropriate to run?

Because it made Romney look bad, and the AP has a political and ideological stake in making Romney look bad, even if it means subjecting an innocent child to viral internet exposure.  That’s why. Would the AP, or any news outlet, allow such a photo to be run if the President or Mrs. Obama were in Romney’s physical position in the photograph? Go ahead, you bias-deniers, make that case.

I have never seen anything this unprofessional and vicious in my long experience of watching increasing news coverage distortions designed to undermine conservatives and Republicans. That such a photo would see the light of day should offend and frighten any fair-minded citizen, because it shows the degree to which a long-standing, respected, traditional news media icon is willing to abandon taste, objectivity, professionalism and objectivity in the pursuit of a political agenda it is unethical for it to have.

As Romney surges in the polls, we can expect more of such breaches of journalistic ethics, probably reaching hysterical proportions as the election approaches. The only hope left is that the 2012 election will mark rock bottom for the news media’s ethics, and will prompt an honest post mortem and genuine efforts at reform led by the handful of ethical professionals still in the field. It’s a faint hope, but it’s all we’ve got.


Facts and Graphic: Huffington Post

25 thoughts on “The AP’s Revolting Romney Photo: As Low As It Goes

  1. Nothing new here. Remember this shot of Sarah Palin’s legs at the ’08 debate, angled to appear as if an audience member is looking up her skirt?

    Kinda reminds me of the yearbook editors in high school, prominently placing unflattering or doctored photos of their enemies. I assume that most of the high school kids eventually matured, although some may have ended up as ‘professional’ journalists.

  2. Obviously, the media would run an embarrassing and deceptive photo of Obama – and they did. (Video showed that this photo catches Obama midway through turning to offer his arm to the woman in the floral skirt.)

    In the last week, virtually all of the mainstream press ran story after story declaring Obama’s debate performance the worse in history – a media barrage that appears to have done enormous harm to the Obama campaign, and given Romney a much better shot at winning the election. Why would they do, rather than downplaying the debate, if the press’ goal is to protect Obama and hurt Romney?

    (Not that I’m objecting to the coverage.. Obama’s debate performance was very poor and that should be a story. But if the media worked the way you claim it did, then they would have downplayed Obama’s poor performance and Romney’s good performance, and they did exactly the opposite.)

    The truth is, both candidates inevitably get both positive and negative coverage (as of several months ago, Romney was receiving more positive overall coverage than Obama). But when Obama gets reported on negatively, you either don’t notice at all, or don’t see it as a pattern. In contrast, any time Romney gets negative coverage, even for something that was plainly an unforced error on Romney’s part (like the 47% tape), you see that as evidence of a media conspiracy against Romney.

    I’m a little curious about you citing polls, as well. Weren’t you just saying last week that the polls were part of a liberal media conspiracy against Romney and could not be trusted? What changed?

    • I’m pretty disappointed that you would defend that photo:

      1. Photos of Presidents ogling girls is old school and fair game. With Obama, the macho stuff only helps him; guys do that; what’s embarrassing about it? The girl has passed; she doesn’t see him. There have been photos of Hillary looking at Xtina’s cleavage recently. The point is, that’s what was happening, and the photo was self-explanatory. The AP photo was misleading, offensive, and intentionally so.
      2. The post wasn’t about positive and negative coverage, but I’m just not debating this, because you’re covering for the inexcusable. Romney’s 47% remark was a 10 day story. The media shrugged off Obama making a “hate whitey” speech, with Howard Kurtz actually writing that it was “just pandering.” Obama flew off to a fundraiser three hours after his ambassador was killed, and the media made no beef at all, though this was infinitely worse than Bush’s New Orleans “flyover,” which the MSM mocked for months. The New York Times’ new, progressive, left-biased ombudswoman slammed the Times for burying the Libya hearings, and the Times’ response was that it’s not that big a story.
      3.The panic by the media is palpable. Their hero is in danger. It’s nauseating. And it’s obvious to anyone who’s not deluding themselves.
      4. Your last comment is a DNC talking point, and again, I think its beneath you.
      The polls have been making assumptions that favor Obama, because the pollsters favor Obama (I’m NOT saying this is intentional, by the way) and now the polls are showing Romney up even with the assumptions that favor Obama. Columnists are still citing Nate Silver’s increasingly incoherent arguments for predicting that Obama is likely to beat Romney at 2-1 odds, down from 3-1. I think, and have thought for months, that Romney is going to win decisively and perhaps even by a landslide. I thought that before the debate. Americans don’t vote for weak Presidents, regardless of their party or policies. I’ve been checking the past elections—the only time the public has elected the candidate who came across as the weaker leader (since 1928) was when it elected Carter over Ford, and 1) they were both weak, 2) Ford had never been elected, and 3) it was very, very close. Obama’s tied with Bush 1 and Carter as the weakest US leader of my lifetime. The polls misrepresent the state of the race, and have from the beginning. Nothing has changed.

      • 0. I didn’t defend that photo, in any way. My view is that it’s obviously inappropriate for a real news organization to run a photo like that, although I probably wouldn’t object if an explicitly humorous website did.

        1. Your double-standards have become ridiculous.

        2. Obama didn’t make a “hate whitey” speech. Please quote a paragraph from the speech which, in context, can reasonably be taken to mean “hate whitey.”

        That the media doesn’t take an obviously dishonest claim that Obama called on blacks to “hate whitey” seriously isn’t a sign of bias.

        4. DNC talking point blah blah blah. If you were capable of defending your points with facts and logic, you wouldn’t have to resort to personal attacks.

        You say “the polls have been making assumptions that favor Obama,” What assumptions are those, exactly? Be specific.

        5. I think that the race is currently a toss-up. The state-by-state analysis currently seems to favor Obama, but if trends of the last week continue Romney will win. We’ll see how it goes in November.

        • 1. If you don’t see the difference between an ad falsely showing Mitt happily showing his rear end to a shocked little girl, and Obama doing a clasic look-back at a shapely women, you’ve gone around the bend, Barry.
          2. How does accusing the Bush administration of not helping New Orleans because black citizens were in the majority not translate into a “hate whitey” speech? What does context have to do with it? It’s per se racist and irresponsible, anywhere, any time. “What’s happening down in New Orleans? Where’s your dollar? Where’s your Stafford Act money?Makes no sense! Tells me that somehow, the people down in New Orleans they don’t care about as much!” What’s the clear meaning of that, to a an all black audience. And, as I assume you know, Obama himself had voted against giving the Stafford money to New Orleans.
          4. I defended my point. Your comment was a verbatim talking point, and a desperate one.
          5. Sure.

          • 1. Again, video of Obama’s “look-back” shows — at best for your case — an ambiguous event, and I think pretty clearly shows that Obama wasn’t looking back. (Unlike the leader of France, who beyond any doubt was.) The still photo makes it seem like Obama’s looking back; the video shows him turning back and offering his arm to the woman in black behind him. To report only the still photo, and to claim that it is unambiguously telling the whole story (as you are now), is dishonest.

            (Even Fox News eventually reported the “look back” as a hoax, after seeing the whole context in the video. Are you saying that Fox News is part of the pro-Obama conspiracy?)

            The Romney photo, on the other hand, looks like what it is; a visual coincidence that looks funny, but doesn’t actually depict anyone acting at all badly. No sane person could look at that photo and think that Romney is doing anything improper. Has anyone that you can link to claimed in seriousness that this photo shows Romney acting inappropriately?

            2. It’s not at all clear that, in context, Obama did accuse the Bush administration of racism. In the same speech, Obama explicitly addressed this question

            People ask me whether I thought race was the reason the response was so slow. I said, ‘No. This administration was colorblind in its incompetence.’ But everyone here knows the disaster and the poverty happened long before that hurricane hit. All the hurricane did was make bare what we ignore each and every day, which is that there are whole sets of communities that are impoverished, that don’t have meaningful opportunity, that don’t have hope and they are forgotten.

            But even if Obama did accuse Bush of racism, it’s dishonest of your to equate criticism of Bush with “hate Whitey.” George Bush is not all white people. Accusing Bush of racism is not the same of accusing “Whitey” of racism, any more than by accusing Obama of racism you have now accused all Black people of racism.

            Furthermore, “Whitey” is a racial epitaph, and it’s dishonest of you (to put it mildly!) to characterize Obama as having used it when he didn’t. If I said that Tucker Carlson had called Obama a “n*****r,” and then when pressed on it said that I thought that was a fair way of describing Carlson accusing Obama of having said something racist, you’d call me a liar. And you’d be right. Summing up someone’s criticism of what they see as racism, as the same as having used a racial epitaph, is both dishonest and incendiary.

            By the way, there were multiple bills regarding the Stafford Act; Obama did vote against one bill because of attached language regarding Iraq that he felt he couldn’t support in good conscience. He voted for giving the Stafford money to N.O. in a different bill that didn’t have the attached iraq language he objected to. He was also one of the major proponents in the Senate of waiving the Stafford requirements for New Orleans, including giving speeches on the floor of the Senate on the subject. Anyone suggesting that Obama opposed waiving Stafford requirements for N.O. is either unaware of the facts (as I assume you are) or deliberately being deceptive.

            4. You did not defend your point with any specifics. Again, what are these so-called “assumptions” that the major pollsters are allegedly making?

      • By the way, you completely ignored my question about the coverage of the Romney/Obama debate.

        If the media is determined to protect Obama and damage Romney, then what explains a solid week of coverage which overwhelmingly (although not 100%) favored Romney and hurt Obama, and which clearly has hurt Obama in the polls? Why didn’t the media downplay Obama’s poor performance, or drop the story after a day or so?

        As far as I can tell, you just focus on events that support your narrative about the biased media, and ignore obvious and important events that don’t support your narrative. The world is not as simple and black-and-white as you seem to believe.

        • The coverage didn’t hurt Obama. The debate hurt Obama. Romney not appearing as the absurd caricature—wife-killing, job-killing, tycoon off the Monopoly board—portrayed in the dishonest Bain ads hurt Obama. Talk about “what elephant?”—denying that Romeny bested the President was hardly an option (though I say some pundits, like Kurtz, try.)

          But the media did aid and abet the Obama campaign’s agreed-upon spin, which was that the President just had an off-day. Review the video—the accepted media narrative was that Obama was off, for some reason, not that Romney did well. To o that, they had to exaggerate Obama’s failings. He just wasn’t that bad.

          • So your argument is that because the media presented Obama as being worse than he really was, that’s a sign of pro-Obama bias?

            Do you really not understand how silly that argument is?

            I won’t argue about exactly how bad Obama was (there’s no objective way of measuring that). But that you’re actually arguing that the media presented Obama as much worse than he was, therefore they have a pro-Obama bias, shows how much you’ve got a pre-determined conclusion, and will spin any evidence to support that conclusion.

            Nor do I agree that the media had no choice but to report the debate honestly. In the Gore/Bush debate, immediate post-debate polls of viewers showed that a majority thought that Gore had won the debate. Three days later – after endless news clips focusing on Gore’s sighs with the volume turned way up — most of the public thought Bush had won the debate.

            That’s just one anecdote, but it’s consistent with the evidence. Studies have shown that the public’s impression of debates is based more on how the media covers the debate in the days following the debate, than on the debate itself.

            In this case, if the media were really trying to protect Obama, they could have done a “draw” narrative — “Obama was weak on body language, but the Romney campaign had to withdraw some of his major claims within hours, so both candidates scored some good points and made some mistakes,” etc.. That would have been the obvious tact to take if the media saw its goal as promoting Obama’s interests.

            But the point is, absolutely nothing the media says or does will make any difference to your opinion. You have a preset narrative – the media is pro-Obama — and you’re so committed to it that even a week of bad coverage that clearly hurt Obama and helped Romney, you beleive is an example of pro-Obama spin.

    • &,
      Your contention that Romney at any point received more positive overall coverage than Obama smells like bullshit to me.
      Sure enough, it is:
      Here’s the main problem:
      “Influential and top-rated media outlets (like ABC, CBS and the New York Times) are buried in a sea of “coverage and commentary on more than 11,500 news outlets,” ”
      I’m sure that every blogger appreciates their utterances being given exactly the same value as 60 Minutes, but it rather skews the data, and obscures the truth.

        • Fair enough, they are biased. The issue they raise about data weighting is valid, and I haven’t come across any rebuttal so far.

      • Joe, thanks for your comment. However, you’ve made a couple of mistakes.

        First of all, your implication that Pew included ordinary blogs in their database seems to be simply untrue. As far as I can tell, the only way a blog could be included is if it were part of a mainstream news site (i.e., the bloggers who work for the Washington Post).

        Second of all, Pew’s researchers had been concerned with exactly the issue you mention, but actual research shows that there is no significant difference between the results from sampling news comprehensively versus sampling just the major news outlets. Quoting PEJ’s (aka Pew’s) discussion of methodology:

        PEJ utilizes a wide range of news outlets as the basis for its examination of tone for this project. Previous testing, however, has shown that a smaller, more select sample of popular media sites considered drivers of news coverage-nearly identical to the 52 sites used by PEJ in its News Coverage Index-would yield similar results. PEJ has conducted a number of comparisons between a broad sample and a smaller, “elite” sample and concluded that the results were alike.

        I know this because I did the most obvious thing in the world – i took two minutes to read PEJ’s description of their methodology. That the site you linked to apparently didn’t do that, suggests that the quality of their research is not high.

        • &,
          You are wrong as regards blogs and mainstream news sites. They even include the “Twitter Firehose Data Feed”. Yep, pretty selective.
          There is a difference between firing a pre-emptive shot anticipating complaints about your methodology and defending it. Your excerpt from PEJs site does the former. Perhaps if you took more than two minutes, and understood data manipulation and algorythm biasing, etc., etc. and so on.
          All that aside, do you honestly maintain that there is no media bias?

          • Joe, as I’m sure you know, the Pew folks examine multiple data streams. The particular data stream that was used to create the charts I linked to earlier, do not include twitter feeds.

            It is common practice for social scientists to anticipate possible problems with their methodology and run test studies to determine if those problems actually make a difference to study outcomes. This is a logical and ethical practice; such tests make the study outcomes more reliable.

            You seem to be saying that anticipating and testing possible problems is somehow not a reasonable thing to do, even though it’s common practice among experts. That seems unreasonable to me.

            I’m interested in hearing more about “data manipulation and algorythm (sic) biasing, etc.” But you can’t expect me to take that vague arm-waving as if it were an actual argument.

            Finally, I do think that there’s media bias (or biases), but it’s a lot more complex than Jack’s discussion makes it seem. On the obvious level, Fox is biased towards the right and MSNBC is biased towards the left, etc.. But there are other biases at play. For instance, the media has a bias towards particular narratives; a story that fits in with the narrative will tend to get reported on more, and that can work against candidates from either party. And there are further biases, such as the bias in favor of horserace reporting.

            So yeas, I believe in media bias. No, I don’t believe in the one-dimensional analysis Jack has been pushing.

  3. To look at that photo and think anything but what it really is takes a level of incompetence and partisan hackery that has likely never been seen on this Earth in all of recorded history. Seriously. Get a grip on reality. Sexualizing the child by thinking she’s looking at his butt is infinitely more offensive than anything the “lame-stream-media” has ever done.

    People do not care about photos like this when it’s obviously a candid photo with nothing nefarious going on. No one gives photos like this a second thought except for partisans who rehash things to “prove” their hypothesis that the media is being MEAN.

    What they do care about are the answers to questions like what are the details of the Romney-Ryan budget, how are both candidates going to deal with the upcoming budget cliff, and how are both candidates going to deal with an unprecedented abuse of the filibuster by the current Senate?

    Finally, since this forum is about ethics AP has an ethical duty to report the news in an honest and to make clarifications and corrections when necessary. They’ve done that. End of Story.

  4. Would the AP, or any news outlet, allow such a photo to be run if the President or Mrs. Obama were in Romney’s physical position in the photograph? Go ahead, you bias-deniers, make that case.


    Ahem. The AP or any news outlet would allow such a photo to be run if the President or Mrs. Obama were in Romney’s physical position in the photograph. There.

    With that said, I’ll now point out that such an assertion is completely baseless. Exactly as baseless, in fact, as any assertion that they wouldn’t run such a photo. There’s ordinary confirmation bias, and then there’s criticizing your opponents by comparing actual events to their imaginary counterparts.

    You become more unhinged with every passing week, Jack. Does this happen to you every election cycle? Will you go back to being a usually-rational and insightful ethics blogger in November? Will that happen if Obama wins, or will you be retitling this website “Conspiracy Alarms”?

    Just what are you suggesting happened here? That some lifelong Democrat, Wall Street-occupying AP photographer deliberately waited for the moment when Mitt Romney wasn’t quite seated at an event, used the super-human reflexes of his trigger finger to snap a photo that almost aligned his rear with the eyeline of a young girl, and sent it to his editor with a note explaining that it was a great opportunity to imply that the Republican candidate is a child molester? Are you envisioning that editor pumping his fist in triumph as he declared that from this day forth no person in America would look at the presidential candidate and fail to think “pedophile and flasher.”

    Was it a bad photo to run? Yes, or course. But your assertion that they ran it because it makes Romney look bad is asinine. It doesn’t make Romney look bad. It makes the AP look bad. That should be obvious to anyone that isn’t (to borrow a phrase from you) completely deluding themselves. The AP had to apologize for it, and rightly so. It wasn’t Mitt Romney that was harmed, nor was there any danger of him being harmed. It’s not as though anyone who saw the photo expected him to issue a statement declaring, “I have never in my adult life deliberately shown my ass to a prepubescent girl.”

    I saw this photo earlier under the caption “Best campaign photo yet of Mitt Romney seemingly showing his ass to a schoolgirl.” The word “seemingly” implies the reality, which is that no one in their right mind would notice what the picture suggests and think that that’s what’s happening. When I clicked on the image originally I thought to myself, “Heh, that’s kind of funny,” immediately after I thought to myself, “She’s clearly not looking at his ass, and he was clearly just bending over at the moment that the photo was taken.” So I was quite surprised to see the photo again when I checked your blog, because really, it’s just one of those funny things that happens when people aren’t paying close enough attention. Not a major topic for ethical analysis.

    Again, I absolutely agree that it’s an instance of a photo editor doing a poor a job, but that is likely the full extent of his or her lapse. He probably clicked “ok” without looking closely at the photo and checking whether there was anything embarrassing to the AP or the subjects of the image. I do hope he learns from it, but these things happen. Surely you can think of a few instances which were not politically motivated. Indeed, I think it’s very telling of your own bias that you would so cavalierly disregard Ampersand’s example of a similarly misleading photo of Obama. It’s especially telling that your response to it is basically, “Contrary evidence be damned, the president was totally looking at that girl’s ass.” By comparison, I trust you’ll find that no sane person is trying to suggest that Mitt Romney was actually mooning a school girl. That would be politically motivated. This isn’t.

    The political dimension aside, does this photo exploit a child, as you say? Sure, absolutely. But that’s only grounds for ethical criticism if you similarly object to every photograph of a child ever run in any publication in the history of man. That’s why journalistic photographers take pictures that include children. They evoke responses. They’re more emotional than dull photos of staid grown-ups. Children particularly tug at the heart strings when they’re in sorrow or peril, and they showcase joy or excitement exceptionally well, as with this girl. Or did you mean that the girl was being sexually exploited. In that case, I really have to disagree, because again she’s clearly not looking at his ass, nobody in the photo could reasonably be construed as being engaged in sexual activity. Do you really think that the people responsible were trying to exploit the girl in order to depict Romney as a sexual predator, and not in order to depict childlike excitement in the midst of the presidential campaign?

    I know it’s difficult because once you see the humorous, or to your mind nefarious undertones of this image, you can’t unsee them, but try for a moment to imagine that you’re the first person to see it and you’re looking at it only in passing. Isn’t it just possible that a lazy or overworked editor took note of the two focal points of the image – the faces of the subjects – and thought, “good photo; run it.” Romney makes eye contact with the photographer and he looks generally cheerful; the girl to his right, far from looking shocked, is obviously excited and happy. Those are both things you’d want in an image of a presidential candidate’s unscheduled visit to an elementary school. There’s a possible scenario in which this photograph is selected for publication specifically for criteria that make it look good for the Romney campaign. In that scenario, it just so happens that it was selected poorly on that basis.

    If this picture had been taken a split second earlier or later, would the AP have ended up being praised on this blog for its positive depiction of the GOP candidate’s engagement with children? Or do you only notice the unremarkable stories that help to stoke your irate biases? Alternatively, do you ascribe such clear intentionality to every professional mistake? In absence of such intentionality, the AP’s ethical obligation was, as Eric said above, to apologize for its oversight. It did that.

    The AP takes a lot of photos. Sometimes it screws them up, like that image of the Pope that made it look like he had horns. That seems obviously inappropriate now, but somebody missed it, unless you think it was chosen for that exact reason. But it requires some pretty absurdly conspiratorial thinking to make the claim that each instance of a poorly-selected photo is an example of the organization working as one to create an unfavorable image of people that they don’t like. I know you’re not making that broader claim, but it’s every bit as illogical to imply that while innocent mistakes do sometimes happen, this specific image is not one of them. You need evidence in order to ascribe malicious intent to one screw up as compared to numerous others. And it needs to be evidence other than that it fits your narrative, which apparently is that there everyone in the media, from the highest executive to the lowliest staff photographer is in the tank for Obama and is committed to leveraging their every resource to smear his challenger textually, visually, aurally, and probably subliminally.

    Get a friggin’ grip, Jack.

    • Such a long post, Ed, and so obviously, indefensibly, desperately, wrong.

      A news organization that posted such a photo of Obama would be immediately condemned as racist, and I’m not sure the accusation wouldn’t be correct. Indeed, as was obvious since 2008, news organizations seldom dare to print photos of Obama that aren’t flattering to the point of personality cultism. That Barry, a reasonable man, really argued here that a photo of Obama glancing admiringly at a comely tush—and unless you’re a Kansman, what’s the matter with that?— is the equivalent a false photo appearing to make it look like Mitt Romney had happily stuck his can in the face of a horrified school girl shows just how double this standards is, and how tolerant and enabling of it some of you have become. Printing such a photo without context was such terrible and uncharacteristically unprofessional judgment that there are only two possibilities: 1) a puckish intern sneaked it past the editors, or 2) someone wanted to make Romney look bad.

      It’s a great trap the MSM sets for me: I’ll condemn any blatantly unfair biased coverage of any politician, but since it’s not worth my time to flag all of MSNBC’s obscene smears of Republicans and all of Fox’s biased criticism of Democrats, I’m left with the Times, the Post, ABC, NBC, CBS, USA Today, CNN, and the Wall Street Journal, which, all in all, is conservative slanted but pretty fair with facts. So most of the time when I see outrageous stories like this, its the Republicans that are getting slimed. James Taranto wrote in to Ethics Alarms complaining when I pointed out that he was unfair to John Kerry; I have knocked James in the past for cheap shots against Ted Kennedy, and I admire Taranto greatly—and have as much contempt for Kerry and Kennedy as any politicians this side of Newt Gingrich, Bill Clinton and Tom DeLay. Don’t accuse me of bias in this—it won’t wash, and it can’t be supported by my record or the facts.

      “Just what are you suggesting happened here? That some lifelong Democrat, Wall Street-occupying AP photographer deliberately waited for the moment when Mitt Romney wasn’t quite seated at an event, used the super-human reflexes of his trigger finger to snap a photo that almost aligned his rear with the eyeline of a young girl, and sent it to his editor with a note explaining that it was a great opportunity to imply that the Republican candidate is a child molester? Are you envisioning that editor pumping his fist in triumph as he declared that from this day forth no person in America would look at the presidential candidate and fail to think “pedophile and flasher.”

      A snide question that makes you seem more ignorant than you are, Ed. Photographers take dozens of shots at such events, and most are crap. And professional, fair editors don’t run the crap. You tell me: why would such a confusing, undignified, obviously suggestive and misleading photo be printed, rather than immediately tossed out? Yes: I believe that an editor wanted to make Romney look bad, and was willing to exploit an innocent child to do it. Give me another plausible explanation. I also believe that an editor at NBC intentionally edited the Zimmerman 911 call to make him sound racist. You don’t? Which is more outrageous? Some mistakes are so outrageous that we know they aren’t mistakes.

      “It doesn’t make Romney look bad. It makes the AP look bad.”

      Nice circular argument, but it avoids the issue. The AP IS bad; its bias has been more and more blatant for about 18 months. Taranto has done a great job documenting it. Obviously normal inhibitions no longer apply at the AP–if it can restrain its anti-GOP bias, that’s an accomplishment. This is signature significance, in my estimation: an unbiased, ethical media outlet does run this story even once.

      When these things happen, and the Pope’s photo may even be an example, at professional media outlets, they usually are NOT an accident. Somebody is trying to sneak something through to make a statement, or a joke. People who watch Matt Drudge’s page have begun to catch on that his choice of photos in unrelated links often have a unifying theme, and sometimes a nasty or subversive one. At the Harvard Crimson in 1969, the paper ran a photo from an erotic art exhibit opening on campus, a photo that was clearly a careful, dreamy representation of a young man engaging in cunnilingus, right next to a story headlines, “New Cafeteria Opens At Radcliffe.” The Crimson staff swore it was an accident. I guess you would agree.

      ( PS: Nobody believed it was an accident.)

  5. On the contrary, I wish more people would be as ‘unhinged’ as Jack. This kind of slop is what’s taking up news space in an election year. We’re trying to pick a President, not Funniest Guy of the Week. The press and most commentators are openly biased and some are outright juvenile. It’s an embarrassment.

  6. Lots of interesting posts, but the whole discussion boils down to the following….

    AP had an ethical responsibility to place the photo in the appropriate context. If anyone has read the original accompanying text they only made it 1/2 way there. They were wrong and issued a correction. Case closed. Ethically responsibility met.

    AP has no ethical responsibility to make sure a politician likes the photos that are published. I can see it now splashed on conservative blogs all next week, “Romney campaign states AP and Reuters hates me. They published photos of my left side when they know I only take photos from the right.” or “Massive conspiracy at AP, they took the picture from my right but printed the flipped photo to embarrass me!”

    Embarrassment is a non-ethical consideration and should not be considered in this discussion.

    • I agree with this, but that photo was an unprofessional botch, and would never have been published at all except that it made Mitt look foolish at first glance. And that is NOT what the AP i supposed to be doing. If the photo was taken by, oh, say, a Howard Stern staffer and found its way to Jimmy Kimmel, then the standards are different.

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