Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Preview of the lead story on the National page of The Washington Times right now:

Yup -- the photo accompanying the headline "36 Chicago Area Students Killed Sets Record" shows Malia and Sasha Obama. How tasteful. (Click to enlarge this and the screen shot below.)

And it's not just a Web glitch -- here's the page with the full story (a story that, it should be noted, doesn't mention the Obama girls at all):

Click on the photo at that page and you go here, for a larger version with this caption:

ASSOCIATED PRESS PHOTOGRAPHS The Obama daughters (above) - Sasha, 7, and Malia, 10 - attended the private University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. This school year 36 of the city's school children have been killed.

I understand that it's a succesful business strategy for wingnut media outlets to play on both racist anti-Obama anger and anger at Obama's perceived elitism. I expect that. But come on -- imagining the daughters dead? Isn't this crossing a line?


UPDATE ,THURSDAY: I guess this post had some impact (with a lot of help from those of you who linked it -- thank you). The photo's been taken down and John Solomon, editor of the Times, has apologized. But I'm not buying this:

"The theme engine, through automation, grabbed a photo it thought was relevant, and attached it to the story" Solomon says, acknowledging that the photo had gone up without a person seeing it. "There was no editorial decision to run it. As soon as it was brought to our attention, we pulled it down."

Excuse me -- if "the photo had gone up without a person seeing it," then what was the source of the caption cited above, which identified Malia and Sasha and then cited the murder statistics? Did a "caption engine" write it after the "theme engine" picked the photo? Has the science of robotics gone beyond my wildest imaginings?

No, sorry -- some human being was aware of the juxtaposition. The explanation doesn't wash.

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