Following the lead of Free Republic and the Drudge Report, media outlets highlighted a photo of President Obama from the G-8, in some cases with provocative, needling, or scolding commentary that is not supported by video of the event.
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After a Free Republic member posted a Reuters photo described as "U.S. President Barack Obama (C) and France's President Nicolas Sarkozy (R) tak[ing] their places with junior G8 delegates for a family photo at the G8 summit in L'Aquila, Italy," Matt Drudge promoted the same photo. Subsequently, ABC News' Jake Tapper, Fox News, and the New York Post followed their lead, highlighting the photo online and on screen, in some cases with provocative, needling, or scolding commentary. But a review of the video, which the media promoting the photo either did not watch or did not allow to give pause, makes clear that Obama was attempting to navigate high steps, while reaching back to help someone behind him do so as well. As Fox News host Greta Van Susteren said after airing video of the event, "Yes, a still picture can lie. And this one does."
As Media Matters for America has documented, media figures previously attacked Obama based on an interpretation of a photograph that was similarly disproved by video evidence.
The Reuters photo posted on Free Republic by TornadoAlley3 at 2:45 p.m. ET:*
At 3:14 p.m. ET, the Drudge Report posted the photo with the headline, "Mr. President!" Drudge later revised the headline to "Second Stimulus Package!" The Drudge Report subsequently included a link to Tapper's blog post under the headline, "ABCNEWS: NO HE DIDN'T ..."
Media figures making dubious claims about the photo following its posting on Free Republic and the Drudge Report include:
- The Fox Nation picked up the photo with the headline, "Another Stimulus?" which was later revised to "Busted?"
The Fox Nation subsequently posted the following photo with the headline, "Girl Obama Was Checking Out Is 17?":
- At 5:20 p.m. ET, Tapper posted the photo with the headline, "When In Rome...?" Around 4 a.m. ET on July 10, Tapper posted on Twitter, "that foto of POTUS seeming to be sneaking a leer is misleading, im told -- video shows the moment was completely innocent." He also updated his blog post, including video of the incident:
On first glance, the snapshot appears to show President Obama caught in a moment of less than lofty analysis. But upon looking at the video, the moment might seem to appear quite innocent -- one of those times when a picture can be misleading. The president was on a higher step and was stepping down -- so he looked down to assure his footing as the woman was walking up the stairs.
Although: not everyone agrees. Judge for yourself.
He later updated his post with video of the exchange from ABC's Good Morning America.
- On the July 9 edition of his Fox News show, Sean Hannity stated, "[S]o there I am. I'm on the radio today, and I click on to the Drudge Report. And I say, 'Oh, Barack Obama in his Bill Clinton moment,' " before showing the photograph on air. After Fox News political analyst Kirsten Powers stated, "They're looking at something else, like out of -- it's the camera angle. ... [I]t's not in the picture," Hannity replied, "He's looking at her backside, can we just say it?"
- In a July 10 New York Post article published online at 3:28 a.m. ET and linked to by Drudge by 6:10 a.m. ET, Todd Venezia posted the photo and wrote:
Baby got Barack!
The leader of the free world and his French counterpart were caught sneaking a peek at a the pink-satin-draped booty of a 17-year-old junior G-8 delegate just moments before the summit's official group photo was snapped in Italy yesterday.
Obama wasn't the only head of state getting Yankee Doodle randy.
Venezia also added video from Good Morning America to his post.
- The following day, Fox & Friends aired the photo with the caption, "Tail to the chief." Co-hosts Brian Kilmeade and Gretchen Carlson, along with guest co-host Andrew Napolitano, asserted that the photo was evidence that Obama "sneak[ed] a "peek" at "a beauty's backside." Carlson stated of the photo, "That's just a natural reaction, is it not, guys?' Napolitano responded, "It surely is. That's why there's so many pictures of it."
Fox & Friends subsequently aired another photograph from the G-8 summit with the caption, "Yes, nice can":
As video of that incident makes clear, the claim that Obama is "check[ing] out the ladies" from this photo is also baseless.
From the July 9 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
HANNITY: And we continue with our "Great American Panel."
All right, so there I am. I'm on the radio today, and I click on to the Drudge Report. And I say, "Oh, Barack Obama in his Bill Clinton moment." Let's show the picture.
POWERS: Or not.
HANNITY: Now, check -- are you all watching? Do you see that picture? There it is.
POWERS: Oh, no.
HANNITY: What do you mean, "Oh" --
POWERS: He's looking at something on the ground.
HANNITY: What --
POWERS: You see there's something, like, right there on the corner?
HANNITY: What, a piece of paper on the ground?
POWERS: Yeah. He's looking at that paper.
HANNITY: Do you really think so?
POWERS: That's my official position.
HANNITY: Now Peter Johnson, if that was you going home, and that picture was up on the Drudge Report tonight -- I know you're happily married. What would the reaction be?
JOHNSON: You know --
HANNITY: When have you ever been at a loss for words?
JOHNSON: I'm at a loss for words. You know, I'm sure there's a good explanation for that. I think he saw --
POWERS: It's the camera angle.
JOHNSON: I think he was bowing to the Saudi prince.
HANNITY: Is that what that is?
JOHNSON: I think there was something going on there.
K.T. McFARLAND (former Pentagon spokeswoman): What I want to know is, who is Sarkozy looking at? Is he looking at Obama --
HANNITY: Yeah, I --
McFARLAND -- or is he looking at the lady?
HANNITY: Either that, or Sarkozy just whispered --
POWERS: See, I --
HANNITY: -- "Hey, take a look."
McFARLAND: Hey, take a look at that. Yeah.
POWERS: They're looking at something else. They're looking at something else, like out of -- it's the camera angle.
HANNITY: And what -- tell me what they're looking at.
POWERS: I can't see it, because it's not in the picture.
HANNITY: Have you gone this far into the Obama camp?
HANNITY: You used to be a fairly reasonable liberal. I mean --
POWERS: I'm -- I just don't --
HANNITY: He's looking at her backside, can we just say it? And --
JOHNSON: And, you can -- he's leaning right. He's leaning right for the first time in his career.
From the July 10 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
CARLSON: Let me give you some inside information about men.
NAPOLITANO: Howard [Stern], if you're watching, let us know.
CARLSON: This is the inside information, ladies, about men. Check out this photo. Yup.
NAPOLITANO: There's nothing inside about that. Oh, who is the lady?
CARLSON: Well --
NAPOLITANO: Do we know?
CARLSON: Well, she's a 17-year-old G-8 intern, right?
KILMEADE: Yeah, Mayara Tavares --
NAPOLITANO: Is she a friend --
KILMEADE: -- of Rio de Janeiro.
NAPOLITANO: Oh, she's not a friend of the Italian prime minister?
KILMEADE: No -- Berlusconi not pictured here, strangely.
CARLSON: Whoa. OK, now --
NAPOLITANO: There's Berlusconi.
KILMEADE: What the heck is going on?
CARLSON: Is this the same location?
KILMEADE: Look at Berlusconi. I'm going to stare at my shoes until the camera's off.
NAPOLITANO: Right. Right. That must be --
CARLSON: He's having a little bit of difficulty over there.
NAPOLITANO: That must be another one of Prime Minister Berlusconi's interns, no?
KILMEADE: Well, we know that he's having some issues.