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What image will define the 2018 election?

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- Commentary

Every election has its iconic images. Or does it?

There are standout images from previous campaigns. Barack Obama’s “Hope” poster, with all its homages and parodies, is a classic example.

A supporter holds the poster of Barack Obama by Shepard Fairey, in Wisconsin, Nov. 5, 2012.
Shutterstock, Juli Hansen

George W. Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” banner dogged him through his 2004 campaign and beyond.

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The image that haunted George W. Bush’s re-election efforts.
Boston Globe screenshot

Michael Dukakis’ ill-advised 1998 photo in a tank was widely seen as “a huge mistake.”

This shot of presidential candidate Michael Dukakis damaged his candidacy.
Politico screenshot

But this campaign season seems to work on different principles. As someone who’s worked in news design and graphics and now teaches these subjects, I’ve spent a good bit of attention on news visuals. To me, it seems like in 2018, images just don’t seem to stick in the same way as they used to.

As the midterm campaigns got underway, images appeared that were used to characterize the politics of one side or the other. One June image that circulated widely showed a crying Honduran child allegedly separated from her parents at the border. Later we learned she and her mother were detained together.

Screenshot from The New York Times of photo taken by Getty photographer John Moore.
New York Times screenshot

Also widely seen were photos of now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh and his accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, from Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing.

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These images had some staying power, but they haven’t been notably present in the late campaign. The Honduran child image, seemingly good material for a campaign focused on immigration policy, didn’t make any significant October appearances, and while Kavanaugh’s impassioned, sometimes sneering face has been decent meme fodder, there’s not really one single image that’s persisted.

Maybe that’s the difference. Thinking of icons as single images is so 20th century, a time when cameras were far less ubiquitous. But we’re all documenters and publishers now, and the photos we see come from a much wider range of sources.

Yet there is an image that shows up again and again this campaign season. It’s not a specific photo, it’s the face of a man, one who isn’t currently on the ballot.

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President Donald Trump at a campaign rally, Nov. 5, 2018, in Cleveland.
AP/Tony Dejak

President Trump is a presence in nearly all election media. His photo broods alongside his tweets, gazes nobly on Fox News and gawps foolishly in the images of MSNBC and elsewhere. There’s no single Trump image that stands out and no prominent images of him doing something – as with Bush or Dukakis – but his face is everywhere, inescapable.

Better photos may win awards, but the photos that stick have become a broad pool that reflects personalities, not events. Trump’s no Kim Kardashian, but their shared sense of visual branding defines this campaign, and this era, far more than any substantive moment: Today’s photographic icons may not depict what happened so much as who happened.The Conversation

Bob Britten, Teaching Associate Professor, West Virginia University

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This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


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Legal scholar exposes the strange ‘missing link’ in Rudy Giuliani’s debunked Ukraine conspiracy theory

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Ryan Goodman, a professor at New York University School of Law, has written a new article with NYU colleague Alex Potcovaru exposing the direct link between President Donald Trump's request to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and to investigate a debunked conspiracy theory pinning the blame on Ukraine for interfering in the 2016 presidential election.

Writing at Just Security, Goodman and Potcovaru examine past statements made by Giuliani both on cable news shows and on social media, and have discovered that Giuliani's efforts to get Ukraine to probe the 2016 election are also an effort to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden.

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Trump Organization boasts about India towers just days after Eric Trump says family doesn’t do international business

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The Trump Organization undermined Eric Trump's lie about the president's family ending its international business dealings.

President Donald Trump's second son falsely claimed last week to Fox News host Laura Ingraham that he and his siblings "got out of all international business" after their father took office.

"The difference between us and Hunter (Biden) is, when my father became commander in chief of this country, we got out of all international business," Eric Trump said.

However, the Trump Organization run by Eric Trump and his older brother Donald Trump Jr. sent out a tweet Monday morning promoting the Trump Towers in Pune, India.

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Trump wants to ‘wash his hands of responsibility for the Kurds’: US official tells NBC News

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A source reportedly told NBC News on Monday that President Donald Trump wants to "wash his hands of responsibility for the Kurds."

NBC correspondent Richard Engel reported the remarks on Monday morning.

"US officials tell me Trump wants to wash his hands of responsibility for the Kurds," Engel wrote on Twitter. "The US mil/gov gave Kurds REPEATED assurances of protection. US even asked Kurds to REMOVE defenses BEFORE the Turkish offensive. Kurds complied and now being displaced. WH says not our problem."

Read the tweet below.

US officials tell me Trump wants to wash his hands of responsibility for the Kurds. The US mil/gov gave Kurds REPEATED assurances of protection. US even asked Kurds to REMOVE defenses BEFORE the Turkish offensive. Kurds complied and now being displaced. WH says not our problem.

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