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. Chris

    now a photo they should doctor is of Janet Napolitano... the only terrorists she going to deter are ones that get a good look at her. but that will be while she is handing out drivers licenses to them.

    April 23, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  2. Kenyan Wonder Kid

    Why the surprise? We all know that everything about the O'man is manufactured, processed, spun, filtered and full of all sorts of other trickery. Nothing is as it appears...unfortunaltely, he provides proof that PT Barnum continues to be correct to this day!

    April 23, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  3. Don in Boca Raton Florida

    Hey Fritz – This is not journalism from the left or of any sort. The picture depicts the POTUS as if he were in a movie. I know the right doesn't like the rock star status of Obama, but what about all of those pictures of Palin that were doctored by the same media to make the pagent queen look good?

    This is a gossip column like article, it does not represent "anything", the guy was at the beach with his family when the pic was shot... how the paparratzi got so close is beyond me.

    April 23, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  4. ralph

    Hey Candy from West Virginia,

    Girl (I hope it's a girl), you are so crazy! That's the best entry yet. I'm still laughing.

    For the the other folks making this a dire issue – Get a Grip!!!

    April 23, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  5. Joe

    Hopefully Obama's team won't pretend to be upset especially after those staged photos of him shirtless on the beach. Yeah... that's what all smokers look like lol!

    April 23, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  6. Mary Stewart

    I think munchmom needs to go stick her head in the toilet!

    April 23, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  7. az voter

    Hey, the president's image isn't trollish any more. So would you rather see Dick Chaney in a bathing suit? Now that's just too gruesome to imagine.

    April 23, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  8. eric

    This is another conspiracy by Bush and Cheney. Sincerely the dumbocratic party!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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

    All you people who are touting that this alteration is dishonest, unethical, blah, blah blah, I ask you one question:

    How honest would you say the goverment is in general?

    That should put the magazine photo in perspective.

    Get over it already.

    April 23, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  10. mark

    Who gives a rats CNN. Silly. Very silly.

    April 23, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  11. barry in las vegas

    Hey he is the "Rock Star" so why is the MSM upset with the picture.

    It shows a total lack of respect for the office of POTUS.

    I'm sure Anerson Cooper, Penn and the rest of Hollywood's finest will have it framed for their bedrooms.

    April 23, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  12. Nate

    They should have touched up the man-boobs.

    April 23, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  13. Bill in the other Washington

    Obviously the good folks at the Washingtonian magazine forgot the basics we learned in Journalism 101. But, heck, so have nearly all of so-called journalists we see prostituting themselves in print and on TV, just for a good story. That's partially why I'm not in journalism anymore. They can spin anything however they want. Ethics? What ethics?!

    April 23, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  14. SHIRLEY "60"

    At my age, even I get the change to red. People think HOT and be grateful that we have this smart, intelligent, buff man to be our leader.

    April 23, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  15. What Me Worry?

    Obama is vastly overexposed, regardless what color his shorts are or how dramatically the lighting is enhanced to make him look more muscular.

    April 23, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  16. Jason

    It's nice for once to have a president who is easy on the eye.

    April 23, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  17. Pat F

    Baze, you are so funny! This presidency is nothing but one publicity stunt after another!

    April 23, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  18. Reality Check

    This is disgusting. How disrespectful to the office of the presidency to show Obama half nude! This should not be published at all.

    April 23, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  19. Bridget

    If you doctor a photo in any way in a magazine, I believe you are supposed to title it a "photo illustration". It's perfectly OK, but you do have to be up front that you are doing it. That said, this tit-for-tat is silly.

    April 23, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  20. nani

    He should never be the president of the United States Of America.
    What a Shame he is for this country!
    He did very bad in the International world, that we all going to pay tomorrow.
    Obama is the discrased president1. and the time will tell!

    April 23, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  21. Butch Dillon

    Someone should show Howard Kurtz the way back underneath the rock where he used to live quietly and out of sight.

    April 23, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  22. DJ

    Give the man some privacy already! He was on vacation with his family. The piece of garbage tabloid-style media needs to get a life, they're a bunch of idiots that don't have a clue what real journalism is.

    April 23, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  23. Barbara, FL

    Michelle is a lucky woman!

    April 23, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  24. Whatever Is Politically Expedient

    If they changed the color of his shorts, what else have they changed or distored in their magazine? I won't be buying it based on this. I can go on the internet ant get the real pic.

    April 23, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  25. ldk

    To all of you saying the black trunks wouldnt show up on a black background. Ok, they should change the background then - not the photo. Moreover this is our president and he DOES NOT belong on the cover of a magazine in a bathing suit. Just my $0.02.

    April 23, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
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