Photo tampering history

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September 2005: This photo, taken of U.S. President George W. Bush as he sat in a meeting of the United Nations Security Council, shows Bush scribbling a note to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reading, "I think I may need a bathroom break. Is this possible?" Reuters' picture editor, Gary Hershorn, explained that sections of the photo were overexposed so a Reuters' processor used the Photoshop technique to "burn down the note." Hershorn says that the photo was not manipulated in any way, but that it was standard practice for such news photos to be enhanced.

October 2005: In August of 2005, the actor Tom Sizemore was convicted on charges of domestic violence, criminal threats, vandalism, and making obscene and harassing phone calls. In appealing this decision, Sizemore's lawyers contend that pictures showing the victim, Heidi Fleiss, with injuries, were faked. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Antonio Barreto Jr. has given prosecutors 30 days to prove the photos were not doctored, or produce the person who took the photographs.

October 2005: This doctored photo of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice appeared alongside a USA Today news story about Rice's comments to U.S. Lawmakers regarding U.S. Troops in Iraq. After receiving complaints from readers, this photograph was removed from USA Today's website, and the following Editor's note appeared alongside a "properly adjusted copy": Photos published online are routinely cropped for size and adjusted for brightness and sharpness to optimize their appearance. In this case, after sharpening the photo for clarity, the editor brightened a portion of Rice's face, giving her eyes an unnatural appearance. This resulted in a distortion of the original not in keeping with our editorial standards.

November 2005: This digitally altered image of illustrator Clement Hurd appeared in a newly revised edition of the book "Goodnight Moon", a classic children's book written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Hurd. The publisher, HarperCollins, altered the original photograph to remove a cigarette from Hurd's hand. HarperCollins said it made the change to avoid the appearance of encouraging smoking and did so with the permission of the illustrator's estate. But Mr. Hurd's son said he felt pressured to allow it. Prior to this latest edition, the photograph of Mr. Hurd grasping a cigarette has been on the book for at least two decades.

November 2005: Former Rolling Stones' bassist Bill Wyman was digitally removed from this cover of the Rolling Stones album "Rarities, 1971-2003" (Wyman was the bassist for the Rolling Stones from 1962 to 1992). The original photo from which Wyman was removed dates back to 1978 when Wyman was still with the group.

December 2005: A political video produced by the Republican National Committee (RNC) depicts a U.S. solider watching a television where Democratic leaders are speaking critically of the Bush administration's handling of the war in Iraq. The final screen shot, shown to the right, reads "Our soldiers are watching and our enemies are too." As shown in this original frame, this video was digitally altered -- the solider was watching the movie How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

January 2006: In 2004, Professor Hwang Woo-Suk and colleagues published what appeared to be ground-breaking advances in stem cell research. This paper appeared in one of the most prestigious scientific journals, Science. Evidence slowly emerged that these results were manipulated and/or fabricated. After months of controversy, Hwang retracted the Science paper and resigned his position at the University. An independent Korean panel investigating the accusations of fraud found, in part, that at least nine of the eleven customized stem cell colonies that Hwang had claimed to have made were fakes. Much of the evidence for those nine colonies, the panel said, involved doctored photographs of two other, authentic, colonies.

January 2006: In 2001, Dr. Jon Sudbo of the Norwegian Radium Hospital in Oslo published a study, in the prestigious journal Lancet, contending that long-term use of certain non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs reduced the risk of oral cancer. This finding was touted as a way to shift the focus of treatment away from surgery and toward new drug therapies. These results were cast into doubt when it was revealed that 250 of Sudbo's sample of 908 people in that study all shared the same birthday. In addition, it was revealed that two photographs from a microscope, reportedly representing two different patients at different stages of precancerous mouth lesions, were different magnifications of the same image. The editors of Lancet issued an "expression of concern" saying Sudbo's research was "just complete fabrication."

January 2006: Famed Indian movie star Khushboo is taking legal action against the publishers of Maxim magazine for the publication of a doctored photograph. The photograph was created by digitally splicing Khushboo's head onto another model's scantily clad body. This photograph was published in the Indian version of Maxim under the heading "Women you will never see in Maxim - 100% fake". Magazine editor, Sunil Mehra, said "We are deeply apologetic for causing any inadvertent hurt and offence to Khushboo." Despite an apology, Khushboo plans to go to court, "Indeed the punishment that is finally meted out to them should be a deterrent against anyone who tries to treat women as a commodity and exploit them as they please. I will not opt for any kind of out-of-court settlement," she said.

March 2006: This cover of the San Antonio Observer features a San Antonio police officer wearing a white hood of the Ku Klux Klan. The newspaper admits that they digitally inserted the hood and gun into the original photograph. Police spokesman Joe Rios said that the Observer defamed the character of the officer in the photograph. "You can clearly read his badge number," Rios said. "I can tell you that the officer who was depicted in that picture is very upset." Ida Brown, an Observer spokeswoman, disputed that the officer's badge number could be discerned on the cover and said the image was not intended as a personal attack. "Primarily, the picture shows that there are racist police officers on the force, and they do target minorities who are innocent," Brown said.

March 2006: This March 12th cover of the New York Times Magazine shows former Virginia Governor Mark Warner, a possible contender in the 2008 U.S. presidential race. After receiving complaints from Warner's campaign about the accuracy of this photo, the New York Times published the following correction. "The cover photograph in The Times Magazine on Sunday rendered colors incorrectly for the jacket, shirt and tie worn by Mark Warner, the former Virginia governor who is a possible candidate for the presidency. The jacket was charcoal, not maroon; the shirt was light blue, not pink; the tie was dark blue with stripes, not maroon. The Times's policy rules out alteration of photographs that depict actual news scenes and, even in a contrived illustration, requires acknowledgment in a credit. In this case, the film that was used can cause colors to shift, and the processing altered them further; the change escaped notice because of a misunderstanding by the editors."

April 2006: New Orleans Mayoral Candidate Kimberly Williamson Butler digitally inserted herself into this photograph of what appeared to be the French Quarter in New Orleans. The setting, however, was the New Orleans Square at Disneyland. This photo was then manipulated again to remove a Disneyland trash can from the background.

June 2006: This photograph, showing two police officers standing by as prostitutes in Cuba hail a foreign tourist, appeared in the El Nuevo Herald under the headline "Hookers: The Sad Meat of the American Dollar". This image, however, was a composite of two separate photographs taken by veteran photographer Roberto Koltun, and published over his objections. "Two things were put together," commented photo coordinator Orlando Mellado. Asked why the photograph was published, Mellado responded "that's a decision that was made by another editor."

July 2006: This controversial ad appeared as part of the Ohio Senate campaign between incumbent Mike DeWine (R) and challenger Sherrod Brown (D). DeWine's campaign created a video of the World Trade Center in flames to attack Brown as soft on terrorism. The ad shows the south tower burning -- the north tower was hit first, however, so the south tower could not be burning without the north tower burning as well. A DeWine spokesman acknowledged the image was a "graphic representation" by the firm that produced the ad, which used a still photo of the towers with computer-generated smoke added.

July 2006: The Charlotte Observer fired Patrick Schneider, a staff photographer, for altering this image of a fire fighter. Following the incident, the paper released the following statement: "Photographer Patrick Schneider's photo depicted a Charlotte firefighter on a ladder, silhouetted by the light of the early morning sun. In the original photo, the sky in the photo was brownish-gray. Enhanced with photo-editing software, the sky became a deep red and the sun took on a more distinct halo. The Observer's photo policy states: No colors will be altered from the original scene photographed." Schneider said that he only meant to restore the actual color of the sky that was lost when he underexposed the photo. Schneider was suspended in an earlier episode after it was revealed that his award-winning photographs had been manipulated. Scheider allowed this case to be used to educate other professional photographers in ethics seminars. At the time he pledged, "I will no longer tone my background down that far."

August 2006: This photograph by Adnan Hajj, a Lebanese photographer, showed thick black smoke rising above buildings in the Lebanese capital after an Israeli air raid. The Reuters news agency initially published this photograph on their web site and then withdrew it when it became evident that the original image had been manipulated to show more and darker smoke. "Hajj has denied deliberately attempting to manipulate the image, saying that he was trying to remove dust marks and that he made mistakes due to the bad lighting conditions he was working under", said Moira Whittle, the head of public relations for Reuters. "This represents a serious breach of Reuters' standards and we shall not be accepting or using pictures taken by him." A second photograph by Hajj was also determined to have been doctored.

August 2006: The Reuters news agency published a photograph showing the remnants of an Israeli bombing of a Lebanese town. In the week that followed, hundreds of bloggers and nearly every major news organization reported that the photograph had been doctored (see above entry). These political cartoons reflected the general consensus of outrage and anger.

August 2006: An Easton, Middlesbrough (UK) man, Stafford Sven Tudor-Miles, scanned photographs of adult porn stars into his computer and digitally altered them so that the women appeared to be of girls under the age of 18. The 38-year-old fine art student was charged with possessing indecent pseudo-images of children. His barrister argued that the pictures were of adults and, therefore, no offense had been committed. Under the Protection of Children Act 1978, as amended by the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, a pseudophotograph of a child is defined as an image, whether made by computer graphics or otherwise, which appears to be that of a child. Possession or creation of such an image is, therefore, illegal. Tudor-Miles pleaded guilty to five counts of attempting to make indecent pseudo-photographs of children, one charge of possessing indecent pseudo-photographs and one of breaching a sex offenders order. Tudor-Miles will be sentenced on September 8.

August 2006: Nathan Noy, a rival of Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio), contends that this picture on Schmidt's webpage showing her at a 1993 Marathon has been doctored. The photo shows Schmidt near the finish line with the time clock showing 3:19:06. But a newspaper list does not include Schmidt's name. Joseph Braun, an attorney representing Schmidt, denied that the photograph is fake. He produced what he said was an official race results book, listing Schmidt as the fifth-place finisher in her age group with a time of 3:19:09. A four-member commission panel ruled that there was enough evidence to look into the complaint. UPDATE: Citing the lack of evidence or witnesses, a unanimous Ohio Elections Commission dismissed the campaign complaint against Schmidt. After the hearing, Noy admitted he made a mistake pursuing the complaint.

September 2006: A photograph of CBS news anchor Katie Couric was digitally altered from this original to give Couric a trimmer waistline and a thinner face. This photo appeared in CBS' in-house magazine Watch! CBS spokesman, Gil Schwartz, said "the doctored image was the work of a CBS photo department employee who got a little zealous". Schwartz added, "I talked to my photo department; we had a discussion about it; I think photo understands this is not something we'd do in the future."

September 2006: This image was posted on, a website supporting Senate Democrat Joseph Lieberman. In reference to Lieberman's opponent, the accompanying caption read "Four out of Five Terrorists Agree Ted Lamont for Senate". "As soon as we saw it, we immediately pulled it down," Lieberman campaign spokeswoman Tammy Sun said. "We condemn things like this. It has no place in our political discourse or on our web site."

September 2006: The Dubliner apologized for a story depicting the wife of famed golfer Tiger Woods in doctored pornographic images. The article read, in part, "Most American golfers are married to women who cannot keep their clothes on in public. Is it too much to ask that they leave them at home for the Ryder Cup? Consider the evidence - Tiger Woods' wife Elin Nordegren can be found in a variety of sweaty poses on porn sites across the Web.". After Woods publicly denounced the story, the magazine apologized: "The publisher and staff acknowledge that the satirical article was inappropriate. We wish to sincerely apologise to Tiger Woods, his wife Elin Nordegren and other Ryder Cup players and their families for any offence they may have taken to it. The article was written as a satirical piece and, in the context of the entire article, the publishers believed the readers would not be left with the impression that there was any truth in the assertions, it being an absurd parody of inaccurate tabloid publishing generally. If any contrary impression was given it certainly was not intended and for this the publishers unreservedly apologise"

October 2006: This movie poster for Shut Up and Sing (a film about the criticism of the musical group Dixie Chicks that followed lead singer Natalie Maines' comments about being ashamed that President Bush was from her home state of Texas) was doctored from its original. In this doctored version, sheets were added to the members so as to be less revealing.

October 2006: An Ohio Republican Party news release attacked Democratic Rep. Sherrod Brown for enlisting the support of comedian Al Franken. The news release was accompanied by a photograph, showing Franken dressed up like a baby bunny, wearing adult diapers and clutching a fluffy white teddy bear. Andy Barr, director of Franken's Midwest Values PAC, confirmed, "The picture is a fake." The Ohio Republican Party used a 2004 photo of Franken for the doctored image. UPDATE (July 2009): Shortly after Senator Al Franken was seated in the U.S. Senate, Cincinnati Enquirer columnist Peter Bronson re-published this doctored photo under the heading "Is this who you want making decisions about your health care?" In his retraction, Bronson wrote "Last week I posted a blog about comedian Al Franken joining the Senate, including a picture of Franken wearing bunny ears and a diaper. Franken did many things on Saturday Night Live that could be embarrassing to a Senator. But apparently, that was not one of them. It turns out the picture was photoshopped. We don't knowingly run false pictures, so I took it down and replaced it with another goofy picture of Sen. Franken."

November 2006: This photo of ABC News' Elizabeth Vargas breastfeeding her baby while at her anchor desk accompanied an article with Vargas about balancing work and motherhood. The image was created by digitally combining a head shot of Vargas with another image. The article is scheduled to appear in next month's issue of Marie Claire Magazine. A spokesperson for the magazine called Vargas "a great journalist," and added that "We do not believe anyone seriously thought she would nurse and report the news at the same time!"

February 2007: The campaign of Tung Nguyen (second from left) for Orange County supervisorial candidate doctored a photo placing Nguyen close to Governor Schwarzenegger. The photo appeared in two Vietnamese-language daily newspapers. Although Nguyen attended the event with Schwarzenegger, he was not standing next to him. Instead, Nguyen's head was spliced onto another person's body. Nguyen's campaign first blamed the alteration on an advertising company and then on a campaign volunteer.

March 2007: This image of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan appeared on the cover of Time magazine under the headline "How the Right Went Wrong". The image was doctored to include a tear on Reagan's face. Time issued a statement saying it regularly runs what it calls "conceptual covers." They said: "This week's cover image is clearly credited on the table of contents page, naming both the photographer of the Reagan photo and the illustrator of the tear."

April 2007: Under the headline "Rove personally connected to email scandal", this photo of presidential adviser Karl Rove, was said to provide evidence that the White House had created an independent e-mail system for communicating outside of the White House's email system, which is automatically archived for record-keeping. The doctored photo, however, was part of an April Fool's joke, and marketing campaign by the Internet design company Coptix. "We watched the misinformation filter upward and outward," said a Coptix spokesman. "This has driven tens of thousands of visitors to our Web site. ... We consider our Web marketing experiment a success."

April 2007: Newspaper photographer Allan Detrich resigned from The Blade of Toledo Ohio after admitting he had altered a photo that appeared in the paper. Detrich submitted at least 79 photos for publication since the beginning of the year that were digitally altered, 58 of which appeared in print. In a printed letter to readers, Blade Editor Ron Royhab said "the changes Mr. Detrich made included erasing people, tree limbs, utility poles, electrical wires, electrical outlets, and other background elements from photographs. In other cases, he added elements such as tree branches and shrubbery." The Blade released three examples of how Detrich altered photos. "Readers have asked us why this was such a big deal. What's wrong with changing the content of a photograph that is published in a newspaper? The answer is simple: It is dishonest," Royhab wrote. "Journalism, whether by using words or pictures, must be an accurate representation of the truth."

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