Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
February 3, 2015

Dr. Christie, He Presumes: GOP Optics and Weird Science

Whether politicizing vaccinations or the domestic risk of Ebola, the biggest threat in these photos is the health effect on the candidate’s campaign viability. It’s one thing to propound pseudo-science, dismiss overwhelming research or try to tie science over here to a hot button issue over there. If you don’t have the politics or the facts firmly enough behind you — especially if the public just doesn’t know you well enough, or worse, doesn’t take you that seriously  — doing a photo op against the no-nonsense background of the clinic or the lab is not a very good idea.

For Christie specifically, this was one of few shots taken Monday at One Nucleus in Cambridge. The facility manufacturers the FluMist vaccine. Full of hubris, the sideways glance away from what’s front-and-center only amplifies his unwillingness to face facts surrounding immunization, the presidential hopeful having been pilloried for framing it as a “choice” issue. Worse, the vague smile and eyes turned up and away — even if completely innocent in the moment — has the look of a signature (the kind that says, ‘I’ve got the gravitas of my friend in the other pair of glasses’).

Finally, Dr. Paul has the opposite problem. Having backed Christie’s “choice” statement on Monday only to immediately backpedal, and then doubled-down with more talk about vaccinations and mental disorders, the ophthalmologist can look (talking medicine or politics) like he’s out of his league.

Update 5:05 pm:

This just hit the news cycle this afternoon. As we were were saying above…

(photo 1: Neil Hall/Reuters. caption: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and his wife Mary Pat Christie visited the One Nucleus life science company headquarters in Cambridge on Monday. photo 2: Jennifer Reynolds / AP. caption: Texas Gov. Rick Perry (left) listens to Tom Geisbert, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Texas Medical Branch, explain the work researchers are conducting in a lab in the Galveston National Laboratory on Tuesday. Numerous Republicans, including Perry, have linked the first Ebola case diagnosed in the U.S. to border control and other political issues. photo 3: NBC screenshot. Medical mission to Guatemala)

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