ESPN defends ‘white Michael Vick’ photo
The author of a new article about Eagles quarterback Michael Vick in ESPN The Magazine says he was “dismayed and horrified” when he discovered that the publication had photoshopped the football star into a white man.
“I didn’t imagine that they would do that and it contradicts what I’m doing in the story,” Touré told CNN’s Carol Costello Friday. “This whole concept doesn’t really make any sense. Race informs your entire life. So, you wouldn’t even enter the same moment the same way. If Michael Vick were white, if that were even imaginable, he may not even go to the NFL because he might see other options for his life.”
“So, just the concept of re-imagining somebody is white or black is extraordinary difficult, and I dismiss the concept of that right away in the story. For the headline and the image to suggest, ‘Let’s look at him as white’ is extremely — it’s just a perpendicular relationship to the story that I wrote.”
ESPN The Magazine senior editor Raina Kelly was quick to defend the decision.
“Well, the first reason we did it is because, I mean, I’m sure, as you know, the purpose of the art in a magazine, on television, in the newspaper, is to accompany and make the reader think in a way similar to the story,” she explained. “What we wanted to do is discuss Michael Vick as fully as possible and discuss the dog-fighting issue as fully as possible.”
“You can use all kinds of code words so that nobody really knows what you’re saying, or you can just put the issue out there and let people talk about it. That’s what we did and that’s what we have done.”
“You heard her explanation, what do you think?” Costello asked Touré.
“I deal with it as a writer. I can’t even deal with the marketing of the story, putting that image, taking that title. When you see the image in particular, which goes counter to what the story is all about, you come to the story with a pitchfork,” he replied. “I mean, there is so many issues. Race is so layered. You can’t just switch people’s races and know the answer… In America, we love dogs. And for a lot of people, hurting a dog is morally equivalent to hurting a toddler. I think if Tom Brady were found to have a massive dog-fighting ring in his backyard, he would do two years in jail as well, and be thrown out of the Patriots and out of the NFL. And he would not be able to get away with it because he is white.”
ESPN briefly removed the photo from their website Thursday, but by Friday morning it reappeared again.
Watch this video from CNN’s American Morning, broadcast Aug. 26, 2011.