Thursday, December 01, 2005


The distorting lens

If a picture is worth a 1,000 words, it's also worth a 1,000 lies. Nowhere is this so evident as in mainstream photojournalism coverage of the antiwar movement. But the deceptive photos typically pass without notice except by those involved in the movement, who seldom get heard anyway.

AP Photo/Evan Vucci
Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan waits for people to show up at her book signing near President Bush's ranch on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2005 in Crawford, Texas.

The photo on the left is the exception. AP photographer Evan Vucci went to Cindy Sheehan's book signing last Saturday at Camp Casey to take a picture of ... well, you would suppose a book signing. Instead the AP distributed the photo on the left, which was carried by the Washington Post among others, with the caption as shown. It really looks as if it turned out to be a dud, doesn't it?

According to Cindy Sheehan, as quoted in E&P, she sold the 100 copies of her book she had with her and raised $2,000 for the Peace House. Furthermore,

Her publisher, Arnie Kotler at Koa Books, meanwhile released a letter to her supporters, charging that “AP and Reuters posted photos - I can't imagine why - of Cindy sitting at the book table between signings, rather than while someone was at the table. And now the smear websites are circulating an article, with these photos, that Cindy gave a signing and nobody came. It's simply not true…. the benefit books signing in Crawford, Texas on November 26, 2005 was well attended and a huge success.”

This was the AP's response to a query from E&P—

Photographer Evan Vucci, queried about the incident today said that he was present at the book signing from about 10 a.m. to about 11 a.m. During that time, he said, people were coming in to have their books signed in small groups of a few at a time.

At the time the photos were taken "maybe 5 people had come in," Vucci says, and Sheehan was waiting for more to stop by, which they did individually as well as in very small groups. Therefore the wording of the caption is accurate in that Sheehan was waiting for people to show up at her signing.

Oh. If he had waited a little longer, maybe he could have caught her during a potty break.

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