Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
March 2, 2019

Figures Larger than Life: Our Social Week

 

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 27: Michael Cohen, former attorney and fixer for President Donald Trump prepares to testify before the House Oversight Committee on Capitol Hill February 27, 2019 in Washington, DC. Last year Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay a $50,000 fine for tax evasion, making false statements to a financial institution, unlawful excessive campaign contributions and lying to Congress as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential elections. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

It’s been a great week for pictures that bring us close—physically and psychologically—to the larger than life protagonists on the political stage. Michael Cohen’s ordeal before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday teemed with expressive imagery, and not just because the former Trump lawyer’s Big Apple persona feels straight out of central casting. The stalwart photographers of the Capitol press pool have gotten very good at separating pomp from circumstance in the Trump era (Lord knows they’ve had the practice). Making an interesting photo in a House committee hearing is more than challenging, what with bad lighting and even worse angles, but photographs from recent testimonies—from Zuckerberg to Kavanaugh to Cohen—have dripped with drama.

 Equally noteworthy, the Kim–Trump summit in Hanoi produced a smattering of visual highlights from an event that went bad without much explanation. Some of the best pictures are snapped surreptitiously (a sequence of Kim Jong-un taking smoke breaks is notable); others are standard handshake-and-pose scenarios, which nonetheless reveal loads about the stagecraft of statecraft. Despite, or in part because of his visual reputation for buffoonery, Kim often comes across as more authentic than his American counterpart. Trump’s incessant, cringe-inducing dad smile might placate his base, but the expression could be getting lost in translation when deployed against his North Korean rival. Kim isn’t just playing hard to get here—he’s using the platform handed him by the Americans to double down on his fantasy of the DPRK as a legitimate nuclear power.

 

 

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images Caption: Michael Cohen, former attorney and fixer for President Donald Trump prepares to testify before the House Oversight Committee on Capitol Hill February 27, 2019 in Washington, DC. 

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