October 20, 2004

The Kerry Album: NYTimes Returns To (De)Form

On Monday, the NYTimes offered respectful photo coverage of John Kerry. (They actually ran a JFK version of the “candidate in the adulating crowd” shot –which is almost a daily staple for Bush.)

The improvement, however, only lasted a day.

This (Tuesday) morning, the two candidates appeared on page A19 (with the Bush shot, once again, higher up the page). Because I love captions, and because I was trying to spare the harangue, I started thinking of titles — like “The Ego Has Landed” or “Divine Intervention.”

If the Times said they were just trying to be creative, I could almost buy that. But, what happened to the (at least somewhat) level playing field? Maybe their rationale had to do with an attempt at abstract impressionism. But, pairing the President with the American eagle (“Two Beaks Are Better Than One?”) is not nearly as weird as what they did with (or, you could say, to) Kerry.



This shot of Kerry, far from pulling for recognizable (not to mention, respectful) themes, is just bizarre. And the negative connotations are hard to avoid. The one (obvious?) reading I make has John Q. Public reaching out to shake hands with Kerry, and the candidate — already maintaining a huge distance — shunning the offer. (And laughing about it!)

At the risk of redundancy, I have to say this shot not only reinforces the Kerry photo motifs I’ve been protesting recently, it express almost every one. Now, that’s impressive.

(My rating scorecard:)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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