Archives About Staff BagNews is dedicated to visual politics, media literacy and the analysis of news images.
January 4, 2011

GOP ‘11: Corporate Stalking Horses Disguised as “Average Joes”


At their house in a new development, Mrs. Toomey was cooling a batch of pumpkin muffins and churning cookie dough while Mr. Toomey’s daughter slid through his legs and his older son wielded a new Nerf gun.“We’ve got a wonderful little life here,” he said later over coffee at the Trivet diner.

from: Conservative Seeks Balance on His Way to Senate (NYT)

Notice any similarities in these two new NYT profiles of incoming right-wing politicos?

Whereas Pat Toomey (Sen- PA) and Scott Walker (WI – Gov) are both arch-conservatives supporting an unabashed “free market” (i.e. corporate) agenda, they are being framed and photographed in a way that perpetuates the most populist, modest, John Q. Public personas.

In Toomy’s case, the refashioned Tea Party favorite endorsed by Sarah Palin — also a former investment banker who flies his own plane, wants to privatize social security and was President of the Club for Growth — is pictured sitting alone in a diner wearing a simple pullover while he looks thoughtfully out the window.

And then there’s the profile piece on new Governor Walker, who is gunning to eliminate corporate income taxes, decertify unions and reject government aid. In this case, the spin is all in the caption:

Scott Walker, the governor elect, brings his lunch to work. He will also make a voluntary pension contribution after taking office.
Want to know how the radical right is winning hearts and minds? In part, it’s through feel-good news pictures papering over the disconnect between gestures of austerity, displays of simplicity, and a radical agenda to unfetter the corporate state to a stunning degree.

If you see further examples, please forward them along.

(Photos: Matt Rainey for The New York Times; Narayan Mahon for The New York Times.)

  • black dog barking

    Best thing about catapulting the propoganda in the subtext of a photograph is that it can’t be quoted against you. What hypocrisy? Its just a picture of a guy in a diner. You liberals and your invisible conspiracies. Get out in the real world. Go to church!

    • http://bagnews.com/staff/#mshaw Michael Shaw

      Amen.

  • thirdeye pushpin

    Pat almost looks like he is worried about his job at the mill.

  • http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Arel Harry R. Sohl

    Well, it’s just like Tweety (Chris Matthews) and poor, poor Pumpkinhead (Tim Russert).

    Getting paid more than $5 million/yr. (that $100,000+ a WEEK), but they’re really still just good ole blue-collar workin’ boys.

    Aren’t they?

    • http://solarray.blogspot.com gmoke

      Sen Toomey likes a lot of cream (or creamer) in his coffee, doesn’t he?

      There’s an old Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy routine that I saw once in a film. Edgar and Charlie are at a swanky society ball. Edgar is impressed, “This is the cream of society, Charlie. Do you know why they call it the cream of society? Because cream rises to the top.”

      “Yeah, so does the scum,” Charlie replies.

  • http://narayan.visualsociety.com Narayan

    I’m not sure there is much of a conspiracy here. Walker eats a sack lunch in his office. Do we really expect them to be eating in fat cat steak houses with lobbyists and corporate CEOs everyday? The Walker photo is just what it is, a man eating his lunch in his office… CEOs and average Joe’s do that.
    In another NYT story I shot, a photo was ran that makes the Republican congressional candidate look worried and vexed (he won)… but in reality he is just wiping some sweat from his forehead at a fundraiser-
    http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2010/10/13/us/RACES-5.html

    This is the problem with photography and context.

  • Pragmatic Realist

    Gerald Ford got up and toasted his own English muffins on his first morning in the White House, and Jimmy Carter carried his own luggage once. It doesn’t last long. They get used to the privileges and perquisites pretty quick.

  • g

    This would be a good time to examine the news coverage of President Obama wearing flip-flops, no?

Refresh Archives

Random Notes