Saturday, November 15, 2008

AP Waxes Indignant Over "Altered" Army Photo
AP Awarded Our First "Log In Yer Own Eye File!" Citation

11/15/2008 -- On the occasion Friday of the first woman in the United States Army, General Ann E. Dunwoody, to be awarded a fourth star, and thereby elevated to the rank of General,* here is the AP video of the actual ceremony.

Unfortunately, someone at the Associated Press also chose to mark the occasion by publicly suspending, until further notice, their use of any images provided to them by the entire Defense Department. They say the action is based on two incidents, ones that are obvioulsy unrelated. One had to do with the digital alteration of the face and shoulders of a soldier who has been killed in action in Iraq two months ago. The altered picture had been used in his unit for a memorial service, and was inadvertently released pubicly, according to the Army.

Regarding the so-called incident related to General Dunwoody, on Thursday the Army had given the AP a cropped image of the general, dressed in fatigues and with a flag backdrop, one that was taken before her current elevation. Here was the Army's release, issued on November 12th. The full shot would have shown her prior rank of Lieutenant General, or three stars, but the cropping eliminated that.

To the right, the smaller image (on top) is the cropped image the Army initially supplied to the press. And then, below that image, the larger image is the full picture that it was
taken from. Because the official elevation in rank took place at a ceremony on Friday, the Army obviously did not have a current shot showing her with her four star rank.

So, they supplied the press with a cropped image that did not show her prior rank, no doubt because by the time the story appeared, they knew she would be a "four-star." Well, big deal!

Sniffed Santiago Lyon of the AP, soon after the "evidence" of the prior image was "discovered" by the deputy director of photography with the San Antonio Express-News, Bob Owen, and reported to AP:
"For us, there's a zero-tolerance policy of adding or subtracting actual content from an image," said Santiago Lyon, the AP's director of photography.
Zero-tolerance? Really? Okay. So what's next? A change in policy over the actual content of AP stories?

Who knows!

Gee, maybe the AP will begin by giving similar exacting consideration to the "altered reality" aspects replete in the content of many of their stories -- like publishing such complete rubbish during the Presidential election, as a piece alleging that Sarah Palin's criticisms of Barack Obama over his years long relationship with unrepentant domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, was really racist on her part!

Or, perhaps in light of their anger over what was left out of the photo, they will begin including key information they omit from stories about Barack Obama appointees -- such as background about Valerie Jarrett -- including any details about her past connections to Tony Rezko and real estate scandals in Chicago. Here was more on the connections from the Boston Globe that the AP might have referenced, but chose not to include.

Somehow, that seems a teeny-weeny little bit more serious than an over-reaching indignation, including an actual banning of all DOD photos, over a cropped rank insignia from an officer's fatigues, no?

So will AP change their content policy on their stories?

"Hope springs eternal in the human breast . . ." intoned Alexander Pope, the noted 18th century poet and satirist.

Anyway, congratulations to General Ann E. Dunwoody on her notable achievement. As commander of the U.S. Army Material Command, she will in essence be the army's "premier provider of materiel readiness." Or, as they also say, "If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, or eats it, AMC provides it."

The AP coverage of the story itself was fine. But as for the obnoxious AP sidebar trashing the Army and the DOD over a lousy cropped photo, well, they've accordingly been awarded our first Log In Yer Own Eye File! citation.

* (corrected) The General officer ranks in the United States Army include "Brigadier General" (one star) BG; "Major General" (two stars) MG; "Lieutenant General" (three stars) LTG; and "General" (four stars) GEN.

Throughout American history, there have only been two men - George Washington and John T. "Black Jack" Pershing, who achieved the preeminent rank of "General of the Armies" and only Pershing did so during his lifetime. A few others, some during the Civil War, and several others during World War II, achieved the rank of "General of the Army" (five star), although the Civil War rank of General of the Army was intended to correspond more closely with that rank (General of the Armies) that had been intended to be awarded to Washington in 1799, in anticipation of a war with France. He died before that final title was conferred, and thus only held the rank of Lieutenant-General in his later lifetime. Washington had been "General and Commander in Chief of the United Colonies" during the revolutionary period, a commission he resigned in 1783. That interesting history is traced here, and can also be
found in the "note" here, noting that the intent, for the period while the ranks existed following WW II, was to have three top grades in decending order, General of the Armies, General of the Army, and General. The first linked history interestingly concludes:
Joint Resolution of Congress, Public Law 94-479, dated 11 October 1976 provided for the posthumous appointment of George Washington to the grade of General of the Armies of the United States, such appointment to take effect on July 4, 1976. This resolution stated that "it is considered fitting and proper that no officer of the United States Army should outrank Lieutenant General George Washington."

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At 11:56 PM, November 16, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are so uninformed...

At 11:22 AM, November 17, 2008, Blogger Trochilus said...

Responding to the anonymous comment above. Really? I'm uninformed? Please, explain where?

At 2:47 PM, November 17, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are indeed either uninformed or willfully misrepresenting the facts.

First of all, in the prior offense, they didn't just digitally alter the soldier's face, they stuck his head on somebody else's body without acknowledging it.

And in the most recent case, they not only altered Dunwoody's face considerably, they cut her body out of the office setting from the actual photograph and put her in front of an American flag. In fact the only detail of the original photo that they didn't alter was her uniform. They just cropped it -- not a big deal, except that it was likely done to hide the fact that they were tinkering with a previously existing photograph.

These things would be no big concern in images concocted for P.R. and advertising purposes, but when released as news, there are standards that are universally accepted and the military press departments know this.

What reason would they have for testing the gullibility of the press like this? Certainly nothing particularly honorable.

At 7:55 PM, November 17, 2008, Blogger Trochilus said...

Thanks for your response. I'm afraid, however, that we still strongly disagree.

In the first place, the prior "incident" (with the memorial picture) had absolutely nothing to do with this one.

The AP drew that silly comparison in order to try and lend support to their pompous public bashing and "banning" of all DOD photos "until further notice."

The army had apologized for the public release – back in September -- of that photo of the troop who was killed in Iraq, which they said they put together for the purposes of a unit memorial. That point was clearly made in my original post and I reiterate it. None of what is contained in your comment, or at the NPPA post (which essentially regurgitates the nonsense from AP) supports a contrary conclusion.

The incidents are simply unrelated.

Secondly, as I noted in my post the Associated Press has displayed a considerable level of biased reporting over time, including in this cycle through a few reporters.

Please, actually read the dishonest stories I linked to in my original post.

Also, consider the reporting of Jennifer Loven both this year and, as well, back during the 2004 cycle.

For AP to suddenly become so picky over what was quite obviously released as a public relations photo, really demonstrates a high level of hypocrisy on their part.

I also specifically recommend you examine several of the 2008 campaign stories written by AP "reporter" Glen Johnson.

Back in January, Johnson wrote an account that was so "in the tank" for Hillary Clinton, that he became a laughing stock. Get this!

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (AP) - When the hostages had been released and their alleged captor arrested, a regal-looking Hillary Rodham Clinton strolled out of her Washington home, the picture of calm in the face of crisis.

Oh, barf!

Johnson remained biased and intellectually dishonest throughout the entire presidential campaign, so much so that in reporting the final appearance of Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live, he reported the "schtick" which was the basis of the skit, as if it was fact -- in order to try and make her look defensive.

These two phoneys have been demonstrable shills for Democrats for a long time now.

Their antics arguably violate AP standards against bias.

. . . AP employees must avoid behavior or activities - political, social or financial - that create a conflict of interest or compromise our ability to report the news fairly and accurately, uninfluenced by any person or action.
. . .
Anyone who works for the AP must be mindful that opinions they express may damage the AP's reputation as an unbiased source of news.

Yet, over a lousy PR Army photo, the AP now launches into a complete holier-than-thou snit!

Note that after pulling down the original "cropped" photo, the AP permitted it's replacement on their "updated" (Nov. 14th) story with the full profile photo showing her Major General stars on her fatigues, together with the flag background. Obviously, the sole AP point must have been over the rank insignia.

This was and continues to be a PR photo. She was awarded her fourth star following full Senate confirmation. There was no attempt to superimpose her photo into some "situation." The Army just superimposed it on a flag background.

And as an obvious PR photo, I still say, so what? If AP felt it violated their standards, they could have simply told the Army they would not print that photo and ask for another. The Army wanted to release a PR photo of her in fatigues, and the only one they had was the prior one of her seated at a desk. So they put a flag background on it. Big deal!

In no way did it misrepresent the "news" aspect of the story.

Therefore, the overreaction by AP was uncalled for and thoroughly hypocritical. Furthermore, your silly claim that the Army was "testing the gullibility of the press" is quite risible.


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