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Photoshopping Nonscandal

I guess the guys at DailyKos are a bit giddy after their victory over Kiss Me Joe, because they're hawking the story of a photoshopping scandal. According to the Kossacks, the GOP decided to paint a Hitler moustache on Howard Dean in an advertisement ridiculing the "Defeat-ocracts." When I first saw mention of it, I thought, "Well, maybe. I mean, Fascist Dean seems like a tough meme to propogate, and photoshopping to do it virtually guarantees a backlash, but hey, I've never claimed that Republicans used the web effectively. So who knows?"

Click through to the first link above and prepare to be underwhelmed. The "moustache" doesn't seem to be the result of intentional malice, but rather of having used this photograph, pulled off another blog. Don't get me wrong: the picture looks awful (so do the other four victims), but you have to really squint to look at Dean and think "mysterious Naziesque facial hair" rather than "wow... fire the photo editor." (Take another look at that picture. The injudicious use of the lasso tool leaves Dean's finger looking frighteningly skeletal, and if I were to make any complaint, it would be the fact that Rep. Murtha resembles a large, fleshy growth developing out of Michael Moore's left shoulder blade.) There's certainly nothing to suggest that someone sat down and painted a moustache onto Dean.

In other words, the story is the same as always when it comes to Republican web work. Don't assume malice where simple incompetence will suffice.

Nevertheless, the GOP has issued a new image (which seems to use a better picture of Dean as the source). Fair enough, although no one has corrected the whole Murtha-Moore-tumor problem. In the meantime, if this is supposed to be the left-wing version of Reuters photoshopping, there's just no comparison.

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I find it bizarre that the decision of a Reuters stringer or freelance photographer to doctor a picture because they were either a) pro-hezbollah / lebanon or b) hoping to make more money with a more dramatic shot has anything to do with left / right politics in your country...

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