Fox: Library's White House mug shots might confuse little kids
David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Published: Thursday November 29, 2007
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When the Daily News reported on an exhibit at the New York Public Library of photos of George Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, and Condoleezza Rice doctored to look like prison mug shots, it touched only lightly on the artistic purposes of the display and appeared to be deliberately aiming to stir up political controversy.

The article noted that one observer had found the exhibit "hysterical" but primarily emphasized that "not everyone was amused," including a pair of brothers who told the Daily News of their plans to set up their own "rogues gallery" of Democrats, with an emphasis on Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy.

The exhibit, by artists Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese, shows Bush holding up a board saying "Washington DC Police 1-28-2003." That is the date of the State of the Union address during which he uttered the notorious "sixteen words" based on the forged Niger documents, stating, "The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." The date for Karl Rove is July 11, 2003, the day on which he leaked Valerie Plame's identity.

A Republican communications director expressed outrage at the photos, telling the Daily News, "It is simply inappropriate to have political attack art, in the form of egregious doctored photographs of the President and other high-ranking officials who have dedicated their lives to public service, in a taxpayer-funded building frequented by schoolchildren and the general public."

The New York Public Library itself has tried to damp down any attempts at provoking a controversy, insisting, "This exhibition has no political agenda. The work described in the media has been presented out of context and is not a complete or fair representation of the entire exhibition which showcases 23 different contemporary printmakers from around the world, featuring a range of subject matters. ... Portions of this exhibition ... should not be viewed as a political statement by the library."

Ligorano and Reese are well known for their political art: "Line Up (2004-5), their series of portraits of Bush administration officials, acknowledges that the mug shot has become the preeminent form of portraiture in America now that more people are incarcerated there, than any other country in the world. The artists debuted Line Up, selling it as a postcard book on the streets of New York during the Republican convention in 2004. Now in its third edition, they have printed and sold more than 5,000 copies."

The hosts at Fox News professed themselves to be bewildered by the exhibit, drawing heavily on the Daily News account of its nature. "Is this real or is this art?" asked Brian Kilmeade. "It's satire, Brian," Fox's Alisyn Camerota explained. "At least, that's what the 'artists-s-s-s' say here. This is called political attack art. That's the genre."

A Google search suggests that Camerota may have invented a new artistic genre on her own, since the phrase "political attack art" does not appear to be used by artists and has never appeared anywhere else except in the Daily News article on the exhibit.

"And this is festooning the halls of the New York Public Library which is paid for, in part, with some taxpayer money," Camerota went on, continuing to reiterate the Republican talking points from the article. "It can be funny ... but in the New York Public Library? In the main hallway? Where students are escorted through?"

"Little kids thinking, 'Oh, is that a picture of my president?'" Steve Doocey chimed in. He then asked for viewers to email their comments on the photos, acknowledging that some might consider them amusing.

This video is from Fox's Fox & Friends, broadcast on November 29, 2007.