October 31, 2005

More Media Photo Bias

Via a tip from a reader...

Just when you though the media would have learned from USA Today's manipulating of photos of the Secretary of State, the New York Times run a photo in this article that gives conservative Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito a sickly green pallor.

Is this an accident, incompetence on the part of the NY Times, or a deliberate act by a liberal news organization to taint a conservative Supreme Court nominee?

This photo clearly violates the National Press Photographers Association Code of Ethics and Articles I, IV, V, and VI of the American Society of Newspaper Editors Statement of Principles.

We can hope that the Times will correct this image and print an apology similar to that of USA Today's.

Cross-posted at

Update: The photo has now been removed from the NY Times story, without a retraction.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at October 31, 2005 09:19 AM | TrackBack

What? You want a retraction?

I got your retraction right here, buddy boy!

Posted by: N.Y. Times at October 31, 2005 02:31 PM

On my (uncalibrated monitor) it looks like the classic mistake of someone used a daylight color-balance (film or digital setting) under fluorescent lighting.

Posted by: The Comedian at October 31, 2005 03:02 PM

Geez, you would think that the libs in the MSM would stop trying to pull crap like this by now.

Posted by: KeepinItReal at October 31, 2005 03:06 PM

Maybe Judge Alito saw the picture of Maureen Dowd in fishnet stockings and red highheels and felt like puking.

Posted by: Karen at October 31, 2005 03:16 PM

If it had all been a mistake, they would have corrected the photo, not removed it.

Posted by: Redman at October 31, 2005 03:20 PM

Geez, you'd think paranoid neo-cons would find something substantial in the MSM to complain about.

Posted by: Ivan at October 31, 2005 03:25 PM

Pretty sure this is just a color-balance issue. The books in the background show the same tinge as the face. Either the original was shot with the wrong settings, as The Comedian said, or the publishing workflow messed it up along the way. It happens all the time, and it's a quite a stretch to claim it's a breach of ethics.

Let's not overreact about these things. Perfect photos don't just appear magically from the camera. Whether film or digital, there's lots of processesing that's routinely done on nearly every professional photo you see in print or on the web. Color balance is one of those things. We can't demand that publishers never ever tweak a photo and then beat them with sticks when they publish an unflattering photo that's been left untweaked.

(Of course, if they just made their original, raw image files available for download then we'd have our answer before we even asked.)

Posted by: Bryan C at October 31, 2005 03:28 PM

Obviously he's just a staunch libertarian!

Posted by: BJ at October 31, 2005 04:19 PM

Come now, we cannot all have the quality makeup displayed by Ralph Neas...

Posted by: paul at October 31, 2005 04:25 PM

Not everyone can look great in front of the camera...

Posted by: charles schumer at October 31, 2005 04:27 PM

NYT biased? Only since 1920.

Posted by: Rodney A Stanton at October 31, 2005 04:44 PM

This is just a typical case of the NYT practicing 'green journalism'

Posted by: Kevin at October 31, 2005 08:34 PM

I have no doubt that newspaper people pick unflattering pictures of politicians they don't like. However, in this case, I highly doubt anything intentional happened. The photo on the NYTimes site is an official photo being published by everyone right now and -- the original is a bit green. If you run auto levels on it in photoshop it comes out pretty close to what's on the site (or what was there)... and no doubt with the huge volume of images that was indeed an autolevel job. For example, grab the photo from here (official site) and throw into pshop and autolevel it.

Posted by: leekane at October 31, 2005 09:29 PM

Is it only me who thinks Alito looks unwell in the picture on the right and far more normal in the one on the left? On the right he could be on the verge of chronic gout, liver and heart problems etc

Posted by: Steve at October 31, 2005 09:31 PM

PS. Steve -- Confederate Yankee's retouching (on the right) is poorly done and actually takes the left-side photo, as bad as it is, farther away from natural than it starts out at. Skin tone is very difficult to match accurately if the original is poorly balanced, as is the case here. Clearly, the person who did the photo on the right adjusted color in the midtone and possibly highlight range. This is incorrect. The green is mostly located in the shadow tones. The highlights, etc. have decent balance. A slight tweak in the shadows and blacks pretty much fixes it. I doubt a photo person has the time or expertise to do it properly (hence "auto-level), and clearly the person who did the right photo does not have the experitse either.

With all due respect of course.

Posted by: Leekane at October 31, 2005 10:54 PM

Reports out of Iraq indicate that 7 more US soldiers were killed yesterday and there was a huge bombing in Basra today where at least 20 were killed. In addition, reports from administration insiders describe an indictment of Rove as "imminent." The GOP congress has decided to give Exxon Mobil (who already has $27 billion in cash) another $2.5 Billion of our tax dollars as part of the energy bill while paying for Katrina reconstruction by cutting school lunches for 40,000 children and cutting your grandmother's health insurance. Better pick up the pace of you postings on Alito to keep your compliant readers focused on that rather than the series of disasters facing themselves, the administration and our country. Keep it up, Yank, and good luck!!!

Posted by: Phil at November 1, 2005 11:52 AM

So you jump all over one newspaper for doctoring photos, and now you criticize another for not doctoring photos? Brilliant.

Posted by: mantis at November 2, 2005 12:58 AM

By the way will you be going after the Federalist Society for their liberal "tainting of a conservative Supreme Court nominee"?

Posted by: mantis at November 2, 2005 01:04 AM

I shoot news for a living. I was just looking at the NYT site yesterday afternoon, and noticed how bad their color balance was on a restaurant review picture and a science article photo. Looking through the site, I was amazed at how bad the overall color is at such a high level paper -- and this was before I even heard of the supreme court nominee picture issue.

I think their photo staff is just sloppy at balancing color. It can only be a liberal conspiracy if they had generally good color all the time, but on pictures of conservatives, they had bad color. But that's not the case -- they have bad color everywhere.

I suppose you conspiracy whackos are going to say that they do bad color everywhere just so they can smear conservatives.

Posted by: Paul at November 2, 2005 05:11 AM

So the fact that the NY Times quickly pulled said photo within an hour of this post going up here and on was just a coincindence?

Yeah. Uh-huh.


Posted by: Confederate Yankee at November 3, 2005 12:43 AM

Apparently you don't read the Times site very often. They rotate pictures on new stories all the time.

I'm sure you're right though, the Times staff was glued to the computer screens watching to see if someone criticized them for not altering their photos. Way to take down the MSM!

P.S. There are several other sites (USAToday, USNews,

Posted by: mantis at November 3, 2005 03:01 AM

Detroit News, Boston Globe, Houston Chronicle) that include the untouched photo on their sites. Let's test your theory. Post about them here and on and see if they remove the photos.

And don't forget the Federalist Society!

Posted by: mantis at November 3, 2005 03:04 AM

He's ugly no matter how the lighting is.

Posted by: Pither at November 5, 2005 11:10 PM

Maureen Dowd in fishnet stockings? Ouch, baby, bring it on. What a bunch of fascist crybabies.

Posted by: Pither at November 5, 2005 11:12 PM