Media
13/02/04 New York Times Falls for a Doctored Photo
Subject: [bigleftoutside] NY Times Falls for a Doctored Photo

February 13, 2004

This blog entry has lots of fun links to the photos and websites mentioned…

www.bigleftoutside.com/archives/000353.php

This is from Atrios, and, well, I feel like piling on.

In a New York Times story today, “Conservatives Shine Spotlight on Kerry’s Antiwar Record,” Times reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg got snookered by a doctored photograph purporting to show a young fresh-back-from-Nam John Kerry standing alongside Jane Fonda. Stolberg wrote:

“And on Thursday, a new photograph of the senator and the actress began circulating via e-mail. Unlike the image Mr. Sampley bought, which shows Mr. Kerry seated several rows behind Ms. Fonda, this picture ˜ its origins are unclear ˜ shows them side by side, Ms. Fonda behind a microphone and Mr. Kerry, holding a notebook, to her right.”

Yawn. Who cares other than about five people who still hate Fonda for being young, beautiful and smart back then? I’d stand next to Jane then or now. But that’s not what makes this item interesting: Its the sloppiness of the New York Times’ reporting and editing that gives this story legs.

After all, yesterday, the Urban Legends Reference Pages had already demonstrated that the photo is a fake, one that uses a different photo of Kerry, standing alone, at a 1971 antiwar rally, and that splices in the image of Fonda.

Now, this would be a somewhat innocent mistake, perhaps, except for one thing: the guy who has been behind the GOP’s “Vietnam Veterans Against John Kerry” group, Ted Sampley (who, the Times also neglects to mention was the mercenary behind the pro-Bush “Vietnam Veterans Against John McCain” four years ago, duh!) has already admitted to doctoring photos. So any photo near his beat deserves extra scrutiny.

On Sampley’s website, he leads with a photo of Kerry’s 1971 testimony to the U.S. Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, but photoshops “a Viet Cong” flag behind him. Even funnier, is that Sampley already had to admit that he doctored that photo for his cause.

Last night, on Fox News’ “Hannity and Colmes” the normally timid Alan Colmes tore the guy a new one on national TV over it, and also reminded Sampley that while he called Kerry a “traitor” today, that he also called McCain a “traitor” four years ago. Sampley is not only dishonest with a photo. He is, simply put, a wingnut, sniffing around for another 15 minutes in the spotlight.

My point is that the New York Times should know better when dealing with someone as sufficiently outed as Sampley and his ilk. Everything that the Bush II machine and its surrogates throws right now in its desperate attempt to slow the Kerry Juggernaut (as with Drudge’s smear, yesterday, which has already deflated as not adding up to his claims) must be analyzed under a microscope. A newspaper with the budget of the Times has no excuse for letting these fraudulent shots past the goalie.

If you wanna write the NY Times Public Editor, Daniel Okrent, about this, his email is: public@nytimes.com.

On a related note: The countdown is now 20 days until Jayson Blair’s book on life inside the NY Times, “Burning Down My Master’s House,” hits the shelves. Pre-orders are so voluminous that the book is already in its second printing. Stay tuned.

– Al Giordano

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