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

A tale of two photos

I come to this with clean hands: I didn’t think it was a big deal when the Boston Globe caught Kerry Healey using a photo from the wrong signing ceremony in one of her TV ads*. It was truthful, even if it wasn’t 100 percent accurate — not good enough for journalism (or at least it shouldn’t be), but plenty good enough for political advertising.

Now, then. On to Scott Allen Miller’s latest, in which he claims that Deval Patrick did the same thing and no one’s calling him on it.

Scott’s evidence is a Patrick ad in which Romney’s signing something and Healey’s looking over his shoulder with a tight little smile on her face. The “something,” according to the ad, is a $682 million cut in local aid. In fact, Miller points out, the photo was actually taken at the signing of the sex-offender-reform bill. Miller writes:

Let’s not hold our breath that the Globe will report, let alone run on the front page of section B, that the latest Deval Patrick ad is using a picture to make the same kind of distortion in reverse.

Trouble is, Miller’s lament is based on two suppositions, both ludicrous. They are:

  1. That Romney and Healey would hold a public signing ceremony so the cameras could click away as they slashed nearly $700 million for local police officers, firefighters and teachers. Rest assured, that one was signed in the office, with the door closed.
  2. That Patrick campaign officials hold the public in such contempt that they think viewers would actually believe Romney signed those cuts in public.

The shot used in the Patrick ad was clearly intended as stock footage, and was understood as such by 99 percent of those who saw it. The shot used in the Healey ad was not — viewers were deliberately led to believe Romney was signing the health-care bill when in fact he was signing the sex-offender bill.

Again, not a big deal. But to the extent that anyone was being deceived, it was by Healey, not Patrick.

*Yeah, yeah, yeah. The ad was bought for her, not by her.

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  1. Citizen Charles Foster Kane

    Dan:What you fail to realize is that Scott is an infotainer and therefore exempt from the dictates of logic and accuracy. How dare you call his interpretation into question! As an infotainer he is immune to scrutiny. I do find it interesting how he protests that he isn’t a journalist yet is preoccupied with how the Globe won’t publish his “scoops”. Them’s the breaks Scott–no one pays attention to the boy who cries “wolf” all the time.

  2. Scott Allen Miller

    Fact check:1) Healey didn’t buy the ad whose accuracy was criticized in the Globe. The Republican Governors Association, a 527 group like the Patriot Majority, did. (Even though Romney heads the RGA, they’ve done less ads for Healey than some other Republican governors.) The Patrick ad, on the other hand, is paid for by the Patrick-Murray Victory Fund and is on the Patrick website.2) I make no such supposition about a public bill signing. It’s the Patrick ad that’s trying to create an illusion of Romney/Healey signing a bill cutting hundreds of millions from the budget by using a photo from the Ally Zapp Bill signing. You can dismiss it as stock footage if you like, but it’s the SAME stock footage!3) I agree with you that the original Globe story wasn’t that big of a deal, but if the Globe is going to splash this on the front page of the B section, they obviously disagree. I just think if the Globe is being even-handed a follow up report would be in order.

  3. Anonymous

    Sorry Dan, but “scotto” has sold his integrity to the Healey campaign. He’ll say almost anything to get her elected. I used to like him, but he’s become a hate-filled caricature, just another face on Dennis and Callahan. Rumor is his new tagline’s going to be “Talent on loan from Eric Cartman”

  4. Anonymous

    Here’s the rub, Scott. If you’re so concerned with being even-handed, how do you explain this from your show’s Web site?Joining me in the studio as a surprise guest (and pictured above) was one of Deval’s supposedly biggest supporters, an “inmate” in our corrections system. He dropped off a bunch of “Free ’em All Deval” bumper stickers for me to give out to my listeners. He also had one of those “under inflated basketballs” just to prove Deval was serious.Any bias on the part of the Globe, real or imagined, pales in comparison next to yours.

  5. Anonymous

    I can’t believe that: A) The Globe actually thought bill-signing-photogate was actually a story. B) That some talk radio blowhard felt compelled to do more than simply ignore it. C) That Dan Kennedy weighed in on it on his otherwise superb blog. D) That I’m wasting my time writing a comment about the whole “scandal.” Who cares? Have the voters been mislead by any of this? No. Should the electorate feel disillusioned? Not by this, but certainly by the shitty slate of candidates from which they have to choose the governor and the laughable media coverage of the campaign.

  6. BosPhotog

    The Gov has a photog on staff. Most if not all recent Govs have had a photog as a paid staffer. I wonder if that was her photo. I would think it would be since she is at every bill signing and almost every event the Gov attends. I wonder if the Healey committee has to pay extra $ for these ad photos from the Gov’s photog since the taxpayer is paying her salary to begin with.

  7. Scott Allen Miller

    anonymous*ahem* Once again, I am NOT a journalist. I am not a reporter. I do not host a news show; I host a talk radio show that sometimes makes news. It’s similar to (but not the same as) how the Tonight Show, SNL, the Daily Show, Letterman, the Colbert Report do the same thing.However, the Globe is a newspaper that, outside of its op/ed pages, has a mission to cover news as fairly and objectively as possible. If you call Marty Baron or the ombudsman and ask if the Globe exists to report the news as objectively as possible, the answer will be yes. I simply point out how the local news media, in spite of their claims to be impartial, objective, fair and unbiased, their biases come through in how they report stories and what they choose not to report. I don’t bring this to attention because *I* am objective; It’s because the Globe doesn’t live up to its own stated mission. I’d rather the Globe declare its biases like Mother Jones or American Spectator than pretend it has none.

  8. mike_b1

    If you call the Globe ombudsman you’ll get an empty office.

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