Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Photographer Disciplined for Snapping President at Bad Angle

The New York Times announced yesterday that it was disciplining one of its editors, Neil Thomas, and a photographer, for approving the publication of a photograph of President Barack Obama that was judged to have been taken from not the best angle. News of the action rocked the journalism world as editors, photographers, and publishers reevaluated how best to convey to readers the total perfection that is President Obama.

Times editor-in-chief Lewis Mann, discussing the lapse of standards with reporters, said “Our journalistic philosophy is that if an image or a report does not capture the true majesty of the President's grandeur, that image or report is essentially a lie. And the Times does not print lies.”

The announcement by the Times follows a string of journalistic lapses by the venerable newspaper commonly known as the Old Gray Lady on Her Death Bed. Last week, a Times reporter was taken to task for writing an article that mentioned a remark the President made on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno in which the President likened his poor bowling abilities to the Special Olympics. The next day the Times published a retraction expressing regret for the article, clarifying that “When President Obama compared his really pitiful bowling ability to the Special Olympics, he was making fun of himself, not the people he explicitly compared himself to as being really pitiful bowlers.”

Previously, the Times reported on the President’s first meeting with the Prime Minister of Great Britain, a country that shares a historically special relationship with the U.S. During the traditional gift exchange, the Prime Minister gave the President a pen holder carved from the timbers of the HMS Gannett, a sister ship of the HMS Resolute, the Resolute’s commissioning certificate, and a seven-volume biography of Winston Churchill. In return, President Obama gave the Prime Minister a 25-pack of American movies that were incompatible with British DVD players. That Times report was quickly amended to make clear that the non-functioning DVDs were “a thoughtful if subtle expression of how the relations between the U.S. and Great Britain transcend the superficiality of Hollywood make-believe.”

It has also been reported that another writer for the Times was on the verge of filing a report that mentioned how the President had mistaken a White House window for a door, but his editor rejected it before publication. An anonymous source tells this newspaper the editor explained to the reporter that while former President Bush’s struggle with a locked door was publication-worthy, President Obama’s struggle with a window was not, as “Obama sees windows as opportunities. Bush saw doors as things meant to stay shut.”

But perhaps the most glaring breach of journalistic standards occurred just a few days ago when an article was posted on the Times website that referenced the President’s obsessive reliance on his teleprompter when making public statements. The posting was immediately taken down for reasons that were never made public. But sources told this newspaper the posting violated journalistic standards because “It’s common knowledge that, far from relying too much on his teleprompter, Obama is actually transferring his exquisitely crafted, wholly spontaneous thoughts in real time onto the screens around him through sheer force of brain power, so others on the far sides of the room can see his remarks.”

Associated articles:;;;;