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October 27, 2005

Reclaiming The Frame

Surrounded-2-1

Surrounded1-1

As Fitzmania builds and good liberals fantasize that Rove will meet a firing squad, my latest question is: Why would photographers suddenly be so interested in depicting reporters and other photographers crowding Bush and Cheney?

As most truth is generally multi-determined, the answer to such a question likely involves multiple factors.  For my part, though, I would offer up one possibility:  Revenge.

I keep thinking about Bush’s so-called press conference right before the Iraq invasion.  Held in the White House East Room on Thursday evening, March 6, 2003, Bush brushed off question after question concerning a possible intervention, beating the drum while pretending the decision to attack was somehow not a foregone conclusion.  As usual, Bush’s attitude toward the press that evening was as condescending as it was domineering, and as usual, there was nothing anyone in the press seemed prepared to do about it.

But that was back when Bush and Co. still had unlimited customers for the Kool-Aid.

For the past few months, the BAG has chronicled a a shift in the visual
balance-of-power. Highlighted by the damning visuals of Bush in the
early days of the Katrina crisis, it seems the photojournalists have
been progressively narrowing the aircraft carrier-sized pictorial gap
Bush and Rove had established between the White House and the Fourth
Estate.

Obviously, visual consumers automatically understand the
contract between the hunter-photographer, who is supposed to remain
relatively invisible, and the politician-prey, who is relatively free
to create whatever type of impression he or she can manage. For Bush,
of course, relationships were easy to manage as long as he had 9/11 to
exploit. Now however, it seems Bush can’t even ask permission for a
bathroom break without someone eavesdropping on his permission slips
with a telephoto lens.

As photographers depict other photographers having their way
with Cheney or seeking "gesture parity" with the formerly
privilege-revoking Bush, I can imagine members of the press thinking it
couldn’t feel better giving Dubya a dismissive look — especially now
that the air is thick with scandal and the smell of blood.

(image 1: Caption: President Bush listens
to a reporter’s question on the investigation into the leak of the
identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame and about the involvement of
two of Bush’s aides, Karl Rove and I. Lewis Libby, in the Oval Office
at the White House in Washington. J. Scott Applewhite/A.P. Monday, Oct.
17, 2005. Washington. Via YahooNews. image 2: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters.
October 26, 2005. Washington. Via YahooNews.)

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