Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
April 23, 2007

White House and Associates: A Two Headed Monster?

Pelosi-Political-Pic-Of-06

(click for full size)

With the exception of a little incident involving Karl Rove, the painfully-muted 2007 White House Correspondent’s Dinner has now come and gone.  How much, however, was the event bottled up for the fact that Damaged PR Prez can no longer take a joke, and the Beltway media, in its neighborliness, is taking pity on him?  (Or go ahead, blame it on Stephen Colbert.)

WAPO’s Reliable Source passed along this over-rationalization from Association President Steve Scully in the evening’s opening remarks:

“An adversary is not the same thing as an enemy … and an evening of civility does not mean we are selling out.”

Sounds great, Steve — if you swap out “civility” with “co-dependence,” and insert “wounded” in front of “adversary.”  … From everything I saw, that wasn’t a exercise in civility, so much as a scene from the “Emperors New Clothes.”

Lacking a salient visual from the ’07 WHCD (unless you count this little gem), I found my attention shifting over to the White House Correspondent’s Association‘s visual sister, the White House News Photographers Association, and the image above, named the Political Photo of the Year (link) this past January 28th.

Assuming Nancy Pelosi has come off better in the past few months, is it because she’s getting good visual press, or just less worse press, based on a conservative bias in the Beltway mediatocracy?  (Or, as Glen Greenwald sees it, is Nancy’s coverage — as far as the textual press goes, at least — that much better at all?)

I take nothing away from Chip Somodevilla (1, 2), the fine and prominent political photographer who shot this image.  I just question what it says, as the top prize-winner, about an independent press organization nominally affiliated with The White House.  (Or, at least, this White House).  It wasn’t, by the way, like “Nancy the monster” won first place while the Republicans still held the House and Senate.  It wasn’t like it took honors a few days or a week after the turnover, either.  Beyond that, just think about when this photo was taken.  Yes, this was photographed November 7th, the very day of the mid-term election.

In my mind, this photo will remain a memorable piece of evidence in the media bias debate.

More than two months after Pelosi and the Democrats engineered one of the most profound political turnarounds in American history — characterized almost uniformly in the media on November 7th, 2006 by scenes like this — it’s fascinating the WHNPA chose to commit to posterity the nightmare above.

Which leads me to ask: was this selection mostly aesthetic, or did it bear at least some slight relation to why the Beltway mediatocracy spent Saturday night sitting on its hands?

(image; Chip Somodevilla. November 7, 2006. Washington. via whnpa.org. caption: THE FUTURE SPEAKER SPEAKS. United States House of Representatives Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA, left) is reflected through a plastic podium while addressing supporters along with Rep. Kendrick Peek (D-FL, right) at the Hyatt Regency Hotel November 7, 2006 in Washington, D.C. Pelosi became the first female Speaker of the House after the Democrats took control of the House and Senate in the midterm elections.)

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