Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
September 14, 2008

Low Down On "The First Dude"

Palin Whisper

On Friday, I wrote that: “In a ‘People Magazine’ election, a Joy Behar is much more likely to reveal a McCain or Palin than a Charlie Gibson.”

Although the Dems and a good part of old-line media are averse to this, it’s important to recognize that the McCain campaign has reduced this election (visually, as well as textually and orally) to the level, terms and vocabulary of celebrity culture.  As such, however sad it is, more abstract, intellectual or inferential terms and arguments lack the counterweight (or, should I say, the right blend of innuendo and supermarket checkout aisle weightlessness) to expose such bottom line realities as, say, the completely Bush/Cheney-like ruthless and renegade nature of the Palin governing approach.

In clever recognition of the “tabloidization” of the campaign, the NYT pairs this shot of the Palins with an article (“Active Role for Palin’s Husband in Alaska Government”) — building off a companion article (“Once Elected, Palin Hired Friends and Lashed Foes”) — outlining the ethical and political boundary-crossing demonstrated by Todd Palin’s interjection into, and the couple’s willful exploitation of Sarah Palin’s governing mandate.

As reflectively brash as the Palin trash ethics, we (finally) have a photo that both plays high but also plays down to the Steve Schmidt level, offering the “First Dude” with his billboard-for-a-sweater captured in the off-in-the-corner, background whisper role he has with his neck-strained, all-too-attentive, multi-communication device-clutching governor-wife.

(image: Al Grillo/Associated Press)

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