April 23rd, 2009
05:00 PM ET
14 years ago

Magazine takes heat for doctoring Obama pic

(CNN) - A magazine is taking heat for making undisclosed alterations of a photograph of President Obama in a bathing suit.

Washingtonian Magazine changed the color of the president's shorts and made a few other touch-ups, but media critic Howard Kurtz calls the small adjustments "unethical."

"While the alternations of this picture might seem to some people to be kind of minor, it is absolutely unethical," he said. "It is dishonest. It is not journalism. You cannot present a news photo, particularly of a president, but of anybody, and alter it through digital technology without being honest about it with readers."

Cathy Merrill Williams, the publisher of Washingtonian, disagreed, saying the publication was merely trying to convey a concept.

"When you're in the magazine business you're trying to get across a concept or an idea," she said. "Changing…the color of his shorts didn't change the overall image portrayed. It was President Obama in a bathing suit walking."

The White House is officially not commenting on the altered photo.

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (284 Responses)
  1. Jack, Bal Harbor, Florida

    Who cares? The liberal press and main stream media ARE UNETHICAL because they pushed an inexperienced person into the Presidentcy.

    Barry was not qualified and now all America is suffering (as will our children and grand-children) with his huge budget and over-spending.

    April 23, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  2. jhon wilson

    FIrst of all they suposed to not took this picture. This is the president of united states. He is not holywood celebrety. Please all media give him some respect. We need him to lead us, not to see his naked picture.This is tasteles.stop doing this any more please!

    April 23, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  3. Veronica

    I know he is the president,but....HE IS HOT!!

    Dark,tall and handsome!!.... and very smart

    April 23, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  4. barnhardt in NC

    Just running the picture of our president shirtless is inexcusable bad taste. I can't imagine this or any other magazine running a previous (ie: WHITE) president in this situation. They need to suffer financial peril as a consequence of horrible judgement.

    April 23, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  5. Kim in Arizona, FOR NOW

    The right in this country have seriously become MENTAL! They all need to take their meds. Its so sad how bad they have lost their minds. They changed the color of his shorts to stand out from the black background. Hes HOT, and he is brilliant, and he is already fixing most the countries problems in just 100 days. He is PERFECT!

    April 23, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  6. Ralph

    In protest...we should boycott this magazine.

    April 23, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  7. Chris

    no matter how much they doctor it, he still looks very much like George Bush a.k.a. Alfred Newman. or is that his policies?

    April 23, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |

    Washingtonian must be taking pointers from CNN's journalist/reporter Susan Roesgen.

    April 23, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  9. George

    Is the news cycle so obtunded that it sinks to such a level? Much ado over nothing!! President Obama looks equally healthy in any color of shorts. Come on, people! There must be something more newsworthy out there.

    April 23, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  10. Kim in Arizona, FOR NOW

    The other micheal in Houston~I am curious as to WHICH countries you are talking about that are laughing at us? Oh there are none??? Since bush was out, the world LOVES us and ALL are jealous that we have such a wonderful president. Stop trying to act like the world still thinks were all redneck uneducated idiots that voted for bush!

    April 23, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  11. Stephen Emlund

    So he is saying that pasting reagan's head on a muscular body is OK but recoloring a peice of clothing is not OK and unethical? You've got it backwards.

    It's not a newspaper, but a magazine. Therefore more liberties should be allowed to be taken.

    His body wasn't photoshopped to look more muscular or even worse, fatter – so there is no wrongdoing here. And taking out the background and making it black is also OK. If they would have changed the background to a different photo, that WOULD BE unethical.

    April 23, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  12. John in Ohio

    How is this a big deal?

    This is like complaining about makeup.

    April 23, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  13. Seattle

    All the rest of the Presidents have taken a vacation so whats the big deal seeing a photo of this President on a beach ?
    The hours President Obama puts in and the long list of problems he has tackled is absolutely amazing .
    If you have time on your hands to waste on this photo why not spend this time to support a cause you believe in instead of wasting it on this photo.
    After all he is the President of the USA

    April 23, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  14. genell

    Its people like Michael that makes this world so mess up we didn't ask 2 get on the may flower 2 come here and u can't make us go back so next time think be 4 u speak about u people needing 2 go back were we came from don't hate the player hate the game just a few words 4 u

    April 23, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  15. Fitty Scents


    Here we go again, the Mag. shamefully touched up the photo to make Obama look Whiter. Shame, shame, shame.

    April 23, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  16. dkr

    I love it and and wish there were more pictures of Obama with out a shirt!

    He's AMAZING!

    April 23, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  17. Matt

    And why exactly is this non story on the front page of cnn.com?

    April 23, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  18. Julie

    Oh who cares? Don't we have bigger issues to be concerned about? Good grief..this isn't even an issue. Its stupid to even be concerned about.

    April 23, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  19. Ann, California

    Delicious, indeed! Besides being a great intellect, President Obama is fine!!!! He's very easy on the eyes and add to that, his wonderful intellect, compassion, sensitivity, love of family, basketball, reading, writing and you have a man who is hard to resist. Who can blame Michelle. Go, Obama!!

    Having said all that, I don't think they should have put this picture on the cover of a magazine, doctored or not. He is the President.

    April 23, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  20. Kathleen Kenney

    I've decided to cancel my subscription to the Wahingtonian, thanks to Cathy Merrill Williams.
    With our new president confronted with such difficult problems, Ms. Williams should apologize and resolve to elevate her readers' interests.

    April 23, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  21. Fitty Scents

    How about Michelle in a two piece!!!!! UNTOUCHED he-he

    April 23, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  22. Ob

    So, the papparazi strikes again.... 🙂

    He does look in shorts...WOW!!!

    April 23, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  23. Charm

    The President looks amazing in the original pic and the doctored one, but personally, I think the press should lay off the first family while they're on vacation and let them have some space.

    April 23, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  24. Mark C.

    Irony to all the conservative talking heads: We see the president here toting a six pack and some serious guns.

    Please, this is not a big deal. It doesn't lessen him as a person, doesn't lessen us as a country, it's just a photo with a doctored bathing suit color. We've seen far less-dignified images from recent previous presidents and other leaders of countries.

    I'd rather have a pres that can sport a bathing suit than one that can't open a door.

    April 23, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    @Dutch – sure they did – they gave him a "tan". LOL. POTUS needs to stop the madness. The whole world laughs at the US and he thinks he is endearing us to other countries. Its all unraveling now – they think he is a joke too!

    April 23, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
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