Opinion: Media Mangle

Pictures don’t lie, unless you want them to

An AP photographer’s photo and cutline assist in street theater

Sometimes the media’s gullibility (or complicity, take your pick) is just laughable.

Here’s a photo shot by an Associated Press photographer at the Occupy Wall Street sit-in, camp-in, love-in, crap-in (again, take your pick) yesterday:

Here’s the caption AP put under that photo when it sent it out to hundreds of newspapers, TV stations all over the world:

New York City police officers runs over a Legal Aid Society observer as Occupy Wall Street demonstrators march through the streets near Wall Street, Friday, Oct. 14, 2011 in New York. The cleanup of a plaza in lower Manhattan where protesters have been camped out for a month was postponed early Friday, sending cheers up from a crowd that had feared the effort was merely a pretext to evict them.(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Looks pretty dramatic doesn’t. Just look at the pain and anguish on the poor protester’s face as the motor scooter seemingly rolls over his legs. The first thing you might say to yourself is, “Even if it happened, that couldn’t possibly hurt that much. How much does that scooter weigh, anyway?”

You would be right to be skeptical. Here’s a video of the same event which shows that the scene is not exactly as it is represented in the AP photo and caption:

As you can see, the scooter was going at less than walking speed when a protester dropped to the ground and put his feet in front of it. Now, imagine you’re sitting on a scooter and pushing it along with your feet and you come in contact with a person’s leg. At that speed, you’d come to a halt.

The policeman would have had to practically pick up the front end of the scooter to actually run over the Oscar-aspirant protester’s leg, and he clearly didn’t do that.

Notice the gaggle of MSM photogs getting the dramatic event on their digital flash cards. And understand that the AP photographer, Ms. Altaffer, had a straight-on view of this “atrocity.” The fact that she saw this bit of obviously hoked-up political street theater but ran with the cutline she put on the photo says to me that she was not there to document what happened, but to be a participant on behalf of the protesters.

Incidents like this make you wonder how many times this may have happened during the Vietnam conflict to make American soldiers look like monsters, or in the coverage of the strife in the Middle East to make Israeli soldiers look like child killers.

They say pictures don’t lie. In the hands of an unscrupulous photographer, they can.

(Hat tip to Gateway Pundit for the photo and video links.)

Jon Ham is vice president of the John Locke Foundation and publisher of its newspaper, Carolina Journal.