Monday, September 15, 2008

Atlantic Monthly to Apologize to McCain for Photographer's Unethical Deeds

The Atlantic Monthly issued an Editor's Note today concerning the work and actions of Jill Greenberg, a freelance photographer assigned by the magazine to produce a portrait of John McCain for its current cover. Greenberg apparently used the opportunity to take some of pictures and distort them on her own website. This is clearly a conflict of interest, as she was under contract with the magazine to produce the photos. She gained access using the magazine's name and reputation for her own personal vendetta.

The Atlantic Monthly said today:

We stand by the respectful image of John McCain that we used on our cover, and we expect to be judged by it. We were not aware of the manipulated and dishonest images Jill Greenberg had taken until this past Friday.

When we contract with photographers for portraits, we don't vet them for their politics—instead, we assess their professional track records. We had never worked with Jill Greenberg before (and, obviously, we will not work with her again). Based on the portraits she had done of politicians like Arnold Schwarzenegger and her work for publications like Time, Wired, and Portfolio, we expected her, like the other photographers we work with, to behave professionally.

Jill Greenberg has obviously not done that. She has, in fact, disgraced herself, and we are appalled by the manipulated images she has created for her Web site of John McCain.

She apparently took the opportunity to take other snapshots that incorporated bad lighting and were doctored using Photoshop, then publishing them on her personal website.

James Bennet, Editor of Atlantic Monthly, speaking on FOX News, said that Greenberg will not be paid, and the magazine is considering suing her. "She has violated the terms of our agreement with her, of our contract with her so we're taking steps... So we're looking into what steps we can see to do something about that. I mean this photographer went in there under our auspices to take a cover shot for us, but while she was there she behaved in an incredibly underhanded and unprofessional way." He also said that a formal apology to John McCain is being written. FOX reports:

Photographer Jill Greenberg, who is vehemently anti-Republican and expressed glee that the photos would stir up conservative ire, took pictures of McCain for the cover of The Atlantic’s October issue.

During the shoot, she took several other backlit pictures, which she then doctored and posted to her site. In one photo, she added blood oozing from McCain’s shark-toothed mouth and labeled it with the caption “I am a bloodthirsty warmongerer.” In another, a caption over McCain’s head says, “I will have my girl kill Roe v. Wade,” an obvious reference to his running mate Sarah Palin’s anti-abortion positions.

Greenberg's distorted photo of McCain can be seen here. The Atlantic Monthly's cover can be seen here.

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