- The Washington Times - Monday, February 4, 2013

Did he or didn’t he?

When the White House released a photograph Saturday that supposedly shows President Obama shooting skeet at Camp David on Aug. 4, it was intended to back up Mr. Obama’s previous statement that “up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time” — a claim met with skepticism, both real and playful, by many on the political right.

The photo has failed to quell “Skeeter” suspicion, instead prompting more questions: Is the president shooting too low to target actual skeet? Is the shotgun smoke pattern unnatural? Why was Mr. Obama photographed wearing different clothes while golfing and boarding Marine One on Aug. 4, which was his 51st birthday?

Of course, the image of Mr. Obama skeet shooting — allegedly — is hardly the first to court controversy:

Lie of the tiger

Picture: An August 2008 photo of then-Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who is now president, affixing a GPS tracking device to an endangered species of tiger — a scene, according to state-run television reports, that took place just after Mr. Putin rescued an endangered camera crew by shooting the attacking tiger with his tranquilizer gun.

Controversy: Russian environmentalists claimed that the female tiger in question was taken from a zoo and driven several hundred miles to the site of Mr. Putin’s photo-op, where she reportedly was sedated and placed in a snare before Mr. Putin arrived. Environmentalists also claimed that the tiger in question, Serga, subsequently died because of excessive tranquilizer use during the publicity stunt.

Verdict: Dubious. The photo appears real. The backstory? Not so much. Last year, Mr. Putin’s website reportedly posted follow-up photos of “Serga”; bloggers were quick to point out that the markings on the tiger in the new photo didn’t match those of the tiger in the original photo.

Space monkey business

Picture: An Iranian state media report last week showed pictures of a monkey that the nation supposedly successfully launched into space.

Controversy: Observers quickly pointed out that the alleged space monkey pictured by state news organizations before the launch had a prominent mole over its right eye, but that the monkey shown in post-mission celebrations did not.

Verdict: Inconclusive. An Iranian space agency official told the Associated Press that the “mole” monkey was one of five simians who trained for the mission, but that another monkey actually made the trip into the thermosphere.

Fun fact: Believe it or not, this isn’t the first time Iran’s aerospace might has been called into photographic question. In 2008, the country’s Revolutionary Guards released a doctored photo showing a successful ballistic-missile launch, never mind that the original photo showing a failed launch already had been printed in an Iranian newspaper. Then, just last week, the country revealed its first “stealth fighter,” the Q-313, which aerospace analysts quickly dismissed as being both too small to actually function and lacking an engine nozzle that would prevent the plane from melting in midair.

Fun with John and Jane

Picture: During the 2004 presidential election, a photo surfaced that appeared to show Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry and actress Jane Fonda sitting next to each other at a Vietnam War protest rally.

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