Welcome to the latest edition of Chatting the Pictures. In each 10-minute webcast, co-hosts Michael Shaw, publisher of Reading the Pictures, and writer and historian, Cara Finnegan, discuss prominent photos in the news. In this week’s special edition, we discuss four photos from the Trump impeachment inquiry. The pictures cover Trump and Ukranian president Zelensky; the Democrats and the media spectacle; the witnesses; and the evidence. The program was recorded on November 12th, one day before the start of the public hearings.
The first visual is a montage of photos by Saul Loeb for AFP/Getty Images. The photos of President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky were taken on the sidelines of the recent UN General Assembly meetings, September 25, 2019. We discuss the humoring and posturing on the surface of the relationship. And we examine how certain photos capture the power dynamics between the two men, with Trump holding all the cards.
The second photo was taken by T.J. Kirkpatrick. It’s a portrait of Adam Schiff leading an impeachment story published by The New Yorker. We discuss the live hearings as an unavoidable media spectacle. We also talk about the lights, the test pattern, and how much these elements symbolize the hurdles Schiff and the Democrats face in bringing the hearings to live television.
The third photo was taken by Erin Schaff for The New York Times. Featuring George P. Kent, the photo was taken last month on Capitol Hill prior to Kent’s testimony to the impeachment committee. A career diplomat, Kent oversaw Ukraine policy at the State Department. We look at Kent’s energy and eagerness and consider how much it speaks to the cadre of diplomats at the State Department who have been disregarded by the White House. We also reflect on threats to the officials that have come forth, and their literal need for protection.
Finally, we look at another photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick, this one for The New York Times. It showcases the transcripts from the House impeachment inquiry that were released to the public a week ago. By last count, almost 2,700 pages of transcripts were released from eight witnesses. We speak to the battle over transcripts, between the testimony of witnesses and the edited transcript of Trump’s allegedly “perfect” phone call with Zelensky. We also discuss how much the public has been encouraged to, or discouraged from, reading these accounts.
You can find all the Chatting the Pictures replays here.