- The Washington Times - Monday, August 7, 2006

Tsk, tsk, tsk

Reuters has acknowledged that a photograph of Beirut after an attack by the Israeli air force was doctored using computer software — with black smoke enhanced to look worse than in an original shot by photographer Adnan Hajj.

“Reuters has suspended a photographer until investigations are completed into changes made to a photograph showing smoke billowing from buildings following an air strike on Beirut,” Reuters spokeswoman Moira Whittle said in a statement yesterday.

“Reuters takes such matters extremely seriously, as it is strictly against company editorial policy to alter pictures. As soon as the allegation came to light, the photograph … was removed from the file and a replacement, showing the same scene, was sent. The explanation for the removal was the improper use of photo-editing software,” she concluded.

Who spotted the faulty photo? Sharp-eyed observers from Web logs — Little Green Footballs (LGF), Left & Right and the Ace of Spades, among others — publicly took Reuters to task, accusing the service of using a Photoshop “clone” tool to repeat the spirals of smoke.

“This has to cast doubt not only on the photographer who did the alterations, but on Reuters’ entire review process. If they could let such an obvious fake get through to publication, how many more faked or ‘enhanced’ photos have not been caught?” said Charles Johnson of LGF.

Mr. Johnson previously played a large role in uncovering former CBS anchorman Dan Rather’s attempt to pass off phony documents claiming President Bush compromised his Vietnam-era military service. The bogus papers aired on “60 Minutes” in September 2004 — in the pivotal weeks before the presidential election.

Oh, Joe

There’s considerable interest in the political fate of Sen. Joe Lieberman during Connecticut’s Democratic primaries tomorrow.

“It’s clear that this is a race with national significance. People are watching the outcome. Can a Democrat who disagrees with his party’s position, by and large, on the war prevail in a closely fought primary?” Sen. Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, asked yesterday on C-SPAN.

He continued: “I hope he is our nominee. If he is not, the question will be asked, in terms of other races down the road: What impact does your position on the war have? I assume that in Connecticut, the war is a much bigger issue than in many other states, because of Joe Lieberman’s candidacy. And I also think it’s going to energize the electorate, probably on both sides.”

Ned’s ascendancy?

Memo to Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman: Pollster John Zogby predicted yesterday that Mr. Lieberman would lose big time to his opponent, businessman Ned Lamont, who could become the poster boy for a newly energized Democratic Party.

“At the same time, we have seen Sen.Hillary Rodham Clinton begin the process of pulling away from her aggressive pro-war stance in last week’s compelling confrontation with Defense SecretaryDonald H. Rumsfeld,” Mr. Zogby noted on Huffington Post.

“Democratic candidates will now probably be emboldened to make a stronger stance against the war. Look for Ned Lamont, who is running a strong anti-war campaign, to be the new face of the Democrats in 2006, and possibly beyond,” Mr. Zogby observed.

Cindy’s little acre

She’s still intent on seeing President Bush. Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, whose son, Army Spc. Casey Sheehan, was killed in Iraq in 2004, arrived yesterday at a peace vigil site a few miles from the presidential ranch in Crawford, Texas. Mrs. Sheehan is fresh from a trip to Jordan, where she met with Iraqi families. But Mr. Bush has no plans to meet with her, according to White House spokesman Tony Snow.

“I would advise her to bring water, Gatorade, or both,” Mr. Snow said yesterday.

Undaunted, Mrs. Sheehan kicked things off with a prayer service and a press conference, staged on five acres of vacant land she bought near Crawford, purchased through the help of a “third party,” she told reporters. Celia Ramsey, the previous owner, was none too pleased.

“We were duped. We were deceived. We had no idea that Sheehan was behind the purchase,” she told ABC News.

Screen gems

A partisan schism is brewing in Tinseltown. Some big-time Hollywood Democrats have chosen to support a big-time Hollywood Republican: Film directors Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Jerry Zucker, plus producers Haim Saban and Bud Yorkin — are endorsing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s bid for re-election.

“Their support is partly a matter of friendship over partisanship. But it could deal a blow to the governor’s main opponent, state TreasurerPhil Angelides, by signaling to other Democrats that it’s acceptable to embrace a Republican,” the Los Angeles Times said yesterday.

Mr. Saban, in fact, is a former trustee of the Democratic National Committee and a generous donor, giving $200,000 toward fighting the 2003 recall election that brought Mr. Schwarzenegger to power.

“People think Hollywood is one giant liberal. That’s not the truth,” Mr. Yorkin noted.

Mr. Angelides’ campaign spokesman told the Times, “Schwarzenegger has become a fake Democrat in a Republican power tie, and a few friends of his in Hollywood seem to be buying his new act.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Angelides has the support of actors Will Ferrell, Matt Dillon, Laura Dern and Diane Keaton, as well as singer and actress Barbra Streisand. Former President Bill Clinton recently hosted a Beverly Hills fundraiser for Mr. Angelides that netted $4 million. Still, Mr. Schwarzenegger has been publicly wooing Democrats; Republicans represent only 34 percent of California’s electorate.

Into the gumbo

Alarmed by newspaper reports that a Katrina memorial in Louisiana’s St. Bernard Parish will feature a cross and a likeness of Jesus Christ, the local American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is reminding parish officials of the separation of church and state.

Parish President Henry “Junior” Rodriguez had a simple reply: “They can kiss my [buttocks].”

“It would be better if he would kiss the Constitution and honor it,” Louisiana ACLU Director Joe Cook responded.

In a letter to Mr. Rodriguez, Mr. Cook said that government promotion of a religious symbol on a public waterway is a violation of the Constitution’s First Amendment. But the parish maintains that nothing is improper about the memorial, which lists 129 local victims, according to the Associated Press. The St. Bernard Parish Council plans to dedicate the memorial at Shell Beach on Aug. 29, the one-year anniversary of when Katrina hit.

Contact Jennifer Harper at 202/636-3085 or jharper@washingtontimes.com

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