Tags: atlantic | monthly | mccain

Atlantic Monthly Apologizes to McCain Over Photos

Monday, 15 Sep 2008 05:56 PM

By Tim Collie

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A photographer working for a leading U.S. magazine says she intentionally shot John McCain in an unflattering light — shots that she is using to mock him on her own Web site.

The disclosure has embarrassed The Atlantic Monthly, prompting an apologetic note from its editor and an angry comment from the journalist who wrote its October cover story on McCain.

Jill Greenberg boasted to Photo District News that she submitted photos of the Arizona senator to the magazine while barely airbrushing them.

"I left his eyes red and his skin looking bad," she said.

Greenberg went on to explain that she tricked McCain into standing over a strobe light placed on the floor — a horror-movie style of lighting from beneath that turned the Republican’s face into a stark display of shadows. Asking McCain to "please come over here" for a final shot, Greenberg pretended to be using a standard modeling light.

"He had no idea he was being lit from below," Greenberg said, adding that none of his entourage picked up on the light switch either.

"I guess they're not very sophisticated," she said.

Greenberg, a self-proclaimed "hard-core Democrat," has posted some of the images she was assigned to take to make a political statement on her Web site, Manipulator.com. It shows a series of McCain images in highly unflattering poses, including one that has a monkey defecating onto the Republican candidate's head. (Greenberg is known in photo circles for her pictures of apes.)

Another one reads, "I am a bloodthirsty warmongerer," with McCain retouched to have needle-sharp shark teeth and a vicious grin, while licking blood-smeared lips.

The revelation prompted The Atlantic’s editor to explain that the magazine didn't use Greenberg’s controversial photos but opted instead for a more straightforward portrait.

"We stand by the picture we are running on our cover," Atlantic editor James Bennet told The New York Post. "We feel it's a respectful portrait. We hope we'll be judged by that picture."

Author Jeffrey Goldberg posted a note on the magazine’s Web site saying that Greenberg “betrayed this magazine, and disgraced her profession.”

“Every so often, journalists become deranged at the sight of certain candidates, and lose their bearings,” Goldberg went on. “Why, this has even happened in the case of John McCain once or twice. What I find truly astonishing is the blithe way in which she has tried to hurt this magazine.”

For her part, Greenberg says the magazine’s editors should have known. Her politics are no secret, after all.

"Some of my artwork has been pretty anti-Bush, so maybe it was somewhat irresponsible for [The Atlantic] to hire me." Editor Bennet said, "We don't vet our photographers by their politics."

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