ORIGINAL Copyright 1970 Valley Daily News ALTERED 1995 Life Magazine
Life Magazine responds: The photo we published was supplied to us by our photo library—the Time-Life Picture Collection, the second largest such repository of catalogued images. Amazingly, the fence post had been airbrushed out by someone, now anonymous, in a darkroom sometime in the early 1970s. The picture had run numerous times—without the fencepost, and without anyone taking notice—in Time (Nov. 6, 1972, p. 23), People (May 2, 1977, p. 37), Time (Jan. 7, 1980, p. 45), People (April 30, 1990, p. 117), to name just a few publications.
Newsweek’s policy on altering tones but not subject matter was printed in the December 8, 1997 edition of Newsweek as a “clarification” after the controversy over the magazine's digital straightening of the teeth of Bobbi McCaughey.
Newsweek’s full statement read as follows: “In an attempt to lighten shadows on last week’s cover photograph of Mr. and Mrs. Kenny McCaughey, our photo technicians altered the appearance of Bobbi McCaughey’s teeth. While we often correct color values and contrast levels in pictures we use, it is not Newsweek’s policy to change or misrepresent the subject matter in any way. We regret the error.”
“ The harshness of the mug shot—the merciless bright light, the stubble on Simpson's face, the cold specificity of the picture—had been subtly smoothed and shaped into an icon of tragedy” (Managing Editor, Time ).
“ She started out a big kitty and she just seemed to keep growing. She always meowed for more food and would climb up on the counter to eat food which I forgot to cover. Chicken is her favorite. Once I left a cooked chicken on the table that I was going to use for a boat picnic, an hour later the chicken was gone” (email text; readership: hundreds of thousands). “ My daughter wanted to send an electronic photo of her cat to her friend. I got a little carried away. When we sent it to her friend, we never dreamed anyone would believe the photo was real” (Cordell Hauglie, Ottawa Citizen, readership: thousands).
The spoof version appears to have originated on IMAO.us, a political humor blog, where it was posted on March 4, 2008 under the header, “There Is an International Crisis at 3 A.M.; President Obama Answers the Call.” Both the title and the Photoshopped clock on the wall refer to a scenario posed in a TV campaign ad released by Obama’s rival, Hillary Clinton, in late February:
It’s 3 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep. But there’s a phone in the White House and it’s ringing. Something's happening in the world. Your vote will decide who answers that call. Whether it’s someone who already knows the world’s leaders, knows the military—someone tested and ready to lead in a dangerous world. It’s 3 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep. Who do you want answering the phone?
It could also be regarded as an homage (or a rip-off) of a similar visual joke targeting George W. Bush that circulated in 2005:
“ It is important that we show the diversity in the University of Idaho,” graphic artist David Embleton told Buchanan. But if the campus were so diverse, wouldn’t the archives have real, unadulterated photographs to reflect the teeming racial variety on campus? According to the Princeton Review, at least 81% of the student body at UI is white, while 1% is black and 2% is Asian. “ Doctored Diversity” http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/Printable.asp?ID=9944