Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
May 3, 2017

Trump, King and What’s in an Overcoat?

Sen. Tim Scott was part of a delegation to tour the National Museum of African American History and Culture with President Donald Trump on Tuesday. Provided/Office of Sen. Tim Scott.

Too often, it’s that simple thing right in front of your eyes that gets completely overlooked, even if it has the most meaning.

Following the daily photo coverage of the Trump presidency, of course I studied the photos of the Donald’s visit to the African-American Museum. I even wrote a post about how he and Ben Carson gratuitously posed in front of the Carson exhibit. That’s what makes Josh King‘s visual observation about the visit all the more interesting. If you don’t recognize the name, Josh served as the production director for Bill Clinton from 1993-97.

As anniversaries do these days, Trump hitting the 100 day mark sparked many photo reviews. The one Josh penned, tracking Trump and the administration week-by-week, appeared at The Verge. What’s distinctive and fun about this one though, besides his wry tone, is how King sees so many technical details and picks up on so much stagecraft that only someone with his experience would catch. Having been in the game, he also sees those almost imperceptible, but surprisingly meaningful details. To me, that ability is endlessly inspiring.

As an example, Josh called out something from the visit to the African-American Museum that is not only plain as day, but is also incredibly easy to miss. From the title of the post and the first photo, I wonder if you’ve already figured it out. If not — and I don’t blame you if you still haven’t — here’s what Josh wrote in the first paragraph of his entry for Trump’s Week 5. The more obvious and dramatic material is accompanied by photos, but in this instance, he only mentions it with a link:

With a month in office under his belt, Trump began Week Five by replacing Michael Flynn with Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster. He kept a lower profile for much of the rest of the week, but stayed standing for the duration of his tour through the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The pictures from the visit, in which he declined to check his coat, suggested he wanted to rush through the exhibits.

The photo leading this post is from Senator Tim Scott’s office. It shows Trump in his overcoat with the Senator. Josh’s link, on the other hand, directs to a version of the following photo. In it, we see Trump in a photo op with MLK’s niece. You’ll also notice that everyone else in the picture managed to lose his or her winter wear.

President Donald Trump hugs Alveda King, the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., while speaking after touring the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

When I was a kid and I entered our house and forget to remove my jacket, my father, in his best Brooklyn way, would sometimes crack: “why don’t you take off you coat and stay a while?”

With Trump, whether were talking about his relationship to African-Americans, to the presidency, or just to the moment, that coat says everything about his attention span and his endless mad dash. In the blur, I also appreciate Josh for seeing it.

— Michael Shaw

(photo 1: Office of Sen. Tim Scott via postandcourier.com. caption: Sen. Tim Scott was part of a delegation to tour the National Museum of African American History and Culture with President Donald Trump on Tuesday. photo 2: Evan Vucci/AP. caption: President Donald Trump hugs Alveda King, the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., while speaking after touring the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017, in Washington.)

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