Media outlets -- but not Fox News -- weigh in on doctored photos

››› ››› MATTHEW BIEDLINGMAIER & JEREMY HOLDEN

MSNBC and Editor & Publisher have noted that Fox & Friends featured photos of New York Times reporter Jacques Steinberg and editor Steven Reddicliffe that appeared to have been digitally altered. But Fox News has yet to address the controversy.

On the July 2 edition of MSNBC's Verdict, during the nightly "Beat the Press" segment, which "look[s] back at media hypocrisy, agendas, and the amusing perils of live TV," host Dan Abrams asserted that Fox News "really outdid themselves this morning" -- a reference to the July 2 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, which, as Media Matters for America documented, featured photos of New York Times reporter Jacques Steinberg and editor Steven Reddicliffe that appeared to have been digitally altered. Specifically, the journalists' teeth had been yellowed, their facial features exaggerated, and Reddicliffe's hairline receded. Fox News gave no indication that the photos had been altered at the time.

Additionally, a July 2 Editor & Publisher web item reported that "The Fox News channel has gained wide attention today in the blogosphere for airing photos of two New York Times staffers that appear to have been doctored to portray the Timesmen in an unflattering light." The E&P piece further reported that "[n]either Steinberg nor Reddicliffe were reachable for comment Wednesday. But Times Culture Editor Sam Sifton called the Fox photo work 'disgusting,' and the criticism of the paper's reporting 'a specious and meritless claim.' ... Asked if the paper planned to respond to Fox's actions, he said no: 'It is fighting with a pig, everyone gets dirty and the pig likes it.' "

The controversy was not mentioned on the July 3 edition of Fox & Friends, and as of this posting, Fox News had yet to comment on, or apologize for, the doctored photos.

From the July 2 edition of MSNBC's Verdict with Dan Abrams:

ABRAMS: And Fox News attacks The New York Times by literally altering pictures of a Times editor and reporter to make them look uglier than they are. Yes, they really did it and did not say that they were doing it. "Beat the Press" is next.

[...]

ABRAMS: It's time for tonight's "Beat the Press," our daily look back at media hypocrisy, agendas, and the amusing perils of live TV.

First up, over at Fox News, they really outdid themselves this morning. They were upset at a New York Times article titled, "Fox News Finds Its Rivals Closing In," which we are. So, rather than address the substance, they targeted New York Times editor Steven Reddicliffe and reporter Jacques Steinberg. But look carefully at the pictures they use.

DOOCY [video clip]: His boss, the guy who assigned to this, is a fellow by the name of Steven Reddicliffe, and Mr. Reddicliffe actually used to work for this company. ... [H]e sends his attack dog, Jacques Steinberg, out -- that fellow right there, the writer for the New York Times -- to do these hit pieces.

ABRAMS: Hit piece? How about the fact that they altered the photos? Compare the actual picture of editor Steven Reddicliffe to the one they used. They yellowed his teeth, blackened his eyes, receded his hairline. And here's reporter Jacques Steinberg, and what Fox used. They gave him a bigger nose, and, again, blackened his eyes and yellowed his teeth. They report, you decide.

From the July 2 Editor & Publisher piece, headlined "Fox News Airs Revised Photos of 'NYT' Staffers -- Sifton Calls It 'Disgusting' ":

The Fox News channel has gained wide attention today in the blogosphere for airing photos of two New York Times staffers that appear to have been doctored to portray the Timesmen in an unflattering light.

The photos depict New York Times reporter Jacques Steinberg with yellowed teeth, "his nose and chin widened, and his ears made to protrude further," according to a statement today by Media Matters for America. The other image, of Times television editor Steven Reddicliffe, with similar yellow teeth, as well as "dark circles ... under his eyes, and his hairline has been moved back," according to the Media Matters statement.

The photos appear to have been flattened or extended using photoshop tools.

On Wednesday morning's edition of Fox & Friends, co-hosts Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade aired the photos while discussing a piece in the June 28 edition of the New York Times. The piece pointed out what the newspaper called "ominous trends" in Fox News' ratings.

Neither Steinberg nor Reddicliffe were reachable for comment Wednesday. But Times Culture Editor Sam Sifton called the Fox photo work "disgusting," and the criticism of the paper's reporting "a specious and meritless claim."

"It wasn't a hit piece," Sifton told E&P. "It was straight news. This was a hit piece by Fox News. It is beneath comment." Asked if the paper planned to respond to Fox's actions, he said no: "It is fighting with a pig, everyone gets dirty and the pig likes it."

In his TV spot, Doocy called the Times report, written by Steinberg, a "hit piece" ordered up by Reddicliffe. The pair then made reference to Reddicliffe's tenure as editor of TV Guide owned by Fox News' parent company, News Corporation, which ended in 2002. Reddicliffe was hired by the Times in 2004.

The anchors cited a brief item from the Web site of Radar magazine, quoting a blog called FTVLive, which stated that Reddicliffe "is still bitter about losing his gig at ... TV Guide" and "sends his attack dog Jacques Steinberg out -- that fellow right there, the writer for The New York Times -- to do these hit pieces. So, he essentially is his attack dog. His -- his poodle, if you will."

The broadcast than showed an image of Steinberg's face superimposed over a picture of a poodle, while Reddicliffe's face was superimposed over the man holding the poodle's leash.

As of this afternoon, neither Fox News or News Corp. had made a public statement on the matter.

To see the photos, go to: http://mediamatters.org/

Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel, MSNBC
Person
Steve Doocy, Brian Kilmeade, Dan Abrams
Show/Publication
FOX & Friends, Verdict with Dan Abrams
Stories/Interests
Propaganda/Noise Machine
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