By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

The ugly side of politics

The New York Times Magazine, to put it mildly, is not known for its flattering photo-editing. Still, I thought yesterday’s treatment of former Virginia governor Mark Warner was over the top. After all, the magazine was introducing a potential presidential candidate to a readership that, overwhelmingly, had not seen him before. Far from being another take on a well-known person, this was our first look at the Democrat Who Might Challenge Hillary.

And what a first look photographer Alexei Hay gave us — 1940s-style lighting combined with a supremely unattractive obsession with Warner’s teeth and chin. Warner ends up looking like a half-forgotten character actor who plays a small-town murderer in an old movie you think you might have seen some years ago.

For comparison, I’ve included an official photo of Warner. Maybe its depiction of Warner as a steel-jawed man of destiny is as deceptive, in its way, as the Times’ — but surely it’s no more deceptive than the Times’.

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Philadelphia story


Wolfe at WRKO’s door


  1. Anonymous

    sadly, the official portrait isn’t a whole lot more flattering. What’s John Edwards up to, again?

  2. Wes

    What would Groucho say?

  3. adamg

    Whoa, serious Seinfeld flashback there …

  4. Anonymous

    So much for “no agenda”….

  5. Anonymous

    Agree, neither is flattering. One looks like RMN, and the other like a stoned Arnie. — Bill R

  6. Anonymous

    whoa! – “who’s afraid of the big bad wolf!”still, on the theory that the camera rarely lies, maybe this fella has two personas. i’ve seen some mighty unflattering pics of hillary, and some that make her look cute.

  7. Anonymous

    I don’t care what he looks like,but I would be interested in what he says. Making a few hundred million in startup businesses (converse of Bush) makes up for several things. But, we’ll see how he does.

  8. tony schinella

    I don’t know. He looks like a funky Warren Beatty to me.

  9. Matt

    i know its a terrible picture, but i saw someone reading it when i was taking the #1 bus into cambridge and was intrigued enough to look up the accompanying article onlineso i guess it did its job

  10. Chris in Boston

    I agree that’s it’s a supremely unflattering photo. But it’s worth remembering that the NYT Magazine has long had a Richard Avedon-inspired flat, high-contrast style for its “serious” portraits. Some degree of unflattering portraiture(exaggerated wrinkles, bags under eyes, etc.) was seen as desirable by magazine, reader and subject alike. Maybe it just went a little too far this time.

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