A few years ago, a graphic went around that perfectly illustrated the way in which photographs can be used, not only to capture the moment, but to distort the moment:
That graphic popped into my head the moment I read a story about a really evil act by the hard-Left Associated Press:
“I was horrified,” said John Stemberger, chairman of the board of Trail Life USA, a new, rapidly-growing scouting organization that doesn’t allow openly gay members.
Stemberger was referring to an Associated Press photograph that accompanied an in-depth story about Trail Life. The image showed a group of young boys gathered in a circle with their hands raised at an unusual angle. The AP’s original caption on the photo said they were reciting the organization’s “creed” during a meeting in North Richland Hills, Texas.
The photograph ran last Sunday in newspapers across the nation and generated hundreds of angry emails and some threatening telephone calls to Trail Life headquarters.
But it turns out that the boys were not saluting Hitler and contrary to the first Associated Press caption, they were not reciting a creed. The boys were singing “Taps,” a longtime Boy Scout tradition that the Texas Trail USA troop had adapted as their own.
The boys had gathered in a circle with their hands raised straight into the air. They gradually lowered their hands as they sang the song. It concludes with their hands flush against their side.
What’s even more despicable is that the AP, having published this gross calumny, initially refused to correct it:
But what really infuriated Stemberger was the Associated Press’ initial reluctance to remove the photograph and correct the caption. The Trail Life leader provided me with email correspondence he had with Nomaan Merchant, the writer of the story.
Eventually, the AP did correct the photo, and remove it from its archives, and Merchant (who was not responsible for the photo) apologized, but the whole thing smells bad — that the AP did that in the first place and that the AP took so long to correct its libel by implication that the implied message from the photograph took on a life of its own. As Churchill (or Mark Twain, or someone else entirely) said, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on,” a situation made worse when a major media outlet promulgates the lie onto the internet and then takes its own sweet time correcting it.