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Drudge politicizes another ‘cheap shot’ Reuters photograph

By Ron Brynaert
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 12:04 EDT
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Is photo the latest in “Bizarre Love Triangle” formed by Breitbart, Reuters, and the Drudge Report?

“US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is pictured through a video viewfinder as she speaks during a news conference in Amman September 16, 2010,” reads the sober caption describing a negative image photograph taken by Reuters’ Ali Jarekji.

At the conservative Drudge Report, “HILLARY HORROR: ‘DEMON’ PHOTO MOVED ON WIRE” became the top banner and photograph on Tuesday morning.

One blogger comments, “Matt Drudge, as always, is having fun with Hillary Clinton. This photo on the Reuter’s wire is pretty weird.”

Flapsblog’s Gregory Cole believes that the photograph which Drudge labeled with the “demon” moniker is a reminder of past “sins” committed by the Clintons.

And, it reminds us that if the Democrats insist on sending the Clintons out to save their ass in the Midterm Congressional elections (in five weeks), there will be reminders of what has gone on before – like impeachment, perjury, ‘sex with that woman’ and political contribution corruption.

According to a blogger at Freedom Eden, “Reuters is notorious for its ‘message’ photos,” and the wire service hasn’t always just targeted Democrats.

For years, the Reuters photo wire has been packed with pics of President Bush that make editorial statements.

Here’s a 2006 cheap shot by photographer Larry Downing–

Another Downing photo “was taken or cropped to include the word ‘retire’ above the Vice President’s head. Based on Cheney’s placement within the frame of the photo, there is no conceivable explanation for the appearance of the word other than a conscious decision by someone at Reuters to make an editorial statement.”

Although the conservative blog was elated that Hillary Clinton was getting the Reuters treatment, as opposed to the multiple examples of Republicans provided, it still bashed the wire service: “Reuters’ editorializing photographers and their cheap shots are a disgrace to photojournalists everywhere.”

In November of 2009, Soundbitten’s Greg Beato wrote an article called “Bizarre Love Triangle: Breitbart, Reuters, and the Drudge Report.” It exposed the “links-for-pay arrangement that the Drudge Report’s sometime deputy Andrew Breitbart struck with Reuters,” Gawker noted.

Beato reported,

When an interview subject delivers quotes like that, you pretty much just turn on your tape recorder and let the magic happen. So you can imagine how disappointed I was when I called up Breitbart, asked him about a long-term business deal he has with Reuters, and he declined to comment.

I was hoping he’d brag about how much money he’s made from the deal. And fire off some zingers about how unlikely it is that he, a guy so conservative he once suggested to the New York Observer that it would “almost disgust” him to have sex with the liberal movie star Maggie Gyllenhaal, had hooked up with Reuters, an international newswire with a reputation for anti-American bias, anti-Israeli bias, and anti-conservative bias.

And maybe if I had caught in a particularly expansive mood, I figured he might brazenly exclaim that while Reuters is charging its MSM brethren thousands of dollars a month to license its content, it’s paying him, the anti-MSM upstart, for editorial links he places on his two news portals, Breitbart.com and Breitbart.TV, and even on the Drudge Report.

At which point, I would have probably said something like, “Dude, you’re living the blogger dream! Mainstream media’s paying you to link to its content, and you’re using the money you make from them to fund sites which, as you told the Wall Street Journal, aim to ‘attack the media and to expose them . . . for the partisan hacks that they are.’ They’re paying you to say they suck! I don’t think it gets any better than that.”

Beato reported “Reuters wanted to pay Breitbart ‘a fee for traffic to driven to Reuters [sic] own website’” in October of 2005.

Typically, newspaper sites pay newswires to license their content, and that’s what Breitbart was doing until Reuters cancelled its original contract with him. Now, it wanted to switch things up.

….

In a document arising from his legal dispute, Breitbart admitted that he had “at times, caused there to be hyperlinks to Reuters’ website from the Drudge Report, and that some of those links have contained the same tracking code as links to Reuters’ website from www.Breitbart.com.”

….

Was Reuters paying Breitbart a flat fee for the paid links he was placing on Breitbart.com and The Drudge Report, or was it paying him based on the amount of traffic he was driving to its site?

These questions, alas, remain unanswered, because Breitbart declined to talk about his deal with Reuters and Reuters has been nearly as silent.

Earlier this month, Drudge spotlighted a photo by Reuters photographer Jason Cohn.

Superintendent Joanne Hanley (L) of the Flight 93 National Memorial escorts first lady Michelle Obama (C) and former first lady Laura Bush (R) into a memorial service at the Flight 93 Temporary Memorial outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania, September 11, 2010. Mrs. Bush and Mrs. Obama were in Pennsylvania to mark the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania.

“HOLD ONE SEC, LAURA, MICHELLE TAKES A CALL…” Drudge’s banner read, implying that the new First Lady has her own priorities.

At the Black Political Thought blog, Janet Shan complained, “The Drudge Report is after First Lady Michelle Obama again.”

The Drudge Report will spin anything. Unbelievable.

Once again, this is much ado about nothing. I could see if she was already sitting on the stage and took a phone call. That would be tacky. But this? Ridiculous.

In February, Talking Points Memo noted, “The news service Reuters withdrew a story last night titled ‘Backdoor taxes to hit middle class’ after the White House reached out and pointed out ‘errors of fact.’”

The story, which claimed the White House’s deficit reduction plan relies on raising taxes against the middle class by allowing tax cuts to expire, was withdrawn at about 8 p.m. Monday, according to Yahoo timestamps. The original story ran at 4 p.m. The withdrawal promises a replacement story later this week.

“The story went out, and it shouldn’t have gone out,” said Courtney Dolan, a spokeswoman for Reuters. “It had significant errors of fact.”

Reuters decided not to run a replacement story for the article which TPM’s Rachel Sladja noted “was running at the top of the Drudge Report’s front page” earlier that day.

The Feb 1 story headlined “Backdoor taxes to hit middle class” is wrong and has been withdrawn. The story said lower-income families will pay more under tax provisions scheduled to expire Dec 31. The Obama administration’s budget calls for the extension of those tax provisions for households earning less than $250,000. There will be no substitute story.

In August, Reuters heard it from the right again.

Haaretz noted, “The Reuters news agency has been accused of removing images of activists wielding weapons and bloodied and wounded Israeli naval commandos from photographs taken on board a ship headed for Gaza during deadly clashes last week.”

Reuters on Monday rejected accusations of biased coverage, adding that it had reverted to the use of “the original set” of images, once the organization realized that the photographs it had published had been cropped.

A Reuters spokesman told Haaretz: “Reuters is committed to an accurate and impartial reporting. All images that pass over our wire follow a strict editorial evaluation and selection process.

“The images in question were made available in Istanbul in following normal editorial practice were prepared for dissemination which included cropping at the edges. When we realized that the dagger was inadvertently cropped from the images Reuters immediately moved to the original set as well.”

This is not the first time that Reuters has been criticized for images that appear to be biased against Israel. During the Second Lebanon War in 2006, the news agency admitted that one of its pictures of destruction caused by Israel’s bombing of Beirut had been altered with a computer graphics program.

Political commentator Tom Gross told Haaretz that “this isn’t the first time Reuters had been caught altering photos to make them less sympathetic to Israel. They did so, for example, in the 2006 Lebanon war.”

“Everyone makes mistakes, including journalists, but every time Reuters says it makes a mistake, it does so to Israel’s detriment, and this looks suspiciously like a deliberate pattern.”

But perhaps the most notorious photo by Reuters involved President Obama and caused quite a stir in July of 2009.

The conservative Newsbusters blog noted, “MSNBC’s David Shuster and Tamron Hall labeled the circulation of a photo of President Obama allegedly glancing at a teenager’s posterior a “right wing smear,” and singled out Fox News and Drudge as culprits.

They brought on a Media Matters spokesman, who accused these sites of being motivated by a “racist stereotype of an oversexed black man being a predator.”

….

When the segment finally began at the bottom of the hour, Hall highlighted how the picture “was posted on a right-wing website, and launched a thousand words about President Obama. Beginning late Thursday afternoon, this picture appeared on the Drudge Report, and we just checked just five minutes ago, and it’s still at the top of the website. It appears to show President Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy sneaking an admiring look at a young lady from Brazil- some reports said she was 16.”

Media Matters wrote,

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.”

….

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 …”

 
 
 
 
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