A Thursday Washington Post story attacked Rep. Elise Stefanik (R., N.Y.) for "manipulating" an image of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), even though such modifications are standard in political advertising on both sides of the aisle, including from Pelosi herself.
"Rep. Stefanik tweets altered photo of Pelosi in GOP fundraising appeal," read the headline of a Post piece. Reporter Felicia Sonmez wrote that the photo "appears to have been manipulated" and shows "a close-up, red-tinted photo of Pelosi, with the lines in the House speaker’s face exaggerated due to the image's unnaturally high contrast."
Dems obsessed w/ impeachment but won't send articles to the Senate. Why? It's bc they don't want a trial that will EXPOSE Schiff's illegal COORDINATION with the Whistleblower. SIGN & DONATE to #PressurePelosi to send the articles! https://t.co/g0D2tl9Px3 🚨https://t.co/w13xEv1sC9
— Elise Stefanik (@EliseStefanik) January 8, 2020
The use of filters and contrast on an opponent's picture is a common tactic in political advertising. "It's widespread, especially in video," one GOP operative told the Washington Free Beacon. The Washington Post‘s criticism of Stefanik's use of photoshop struck the operative as politically convenient. Stefanik's 2020 Democratic opponent Tedra Cobb, for example, has frequently tweeted images of the congresswoman that have been similarly "manipulated" using black-and-white and fuzzy filters without attracting negative attention from Capitol Hill reporters.
We deserve better this #holidayseason.
— Tedra Cobb for Congress (@TedraCobb) December 16, 2019
My opponent spends her time in Washington fanning partisan flames and cashing checks from her corporate donors.
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I spend my time listening to and working with families in #NY21.
— Tedra Cobb for Congress (@TedraCobb) December 14, 2019
Pelosi herself often has tweeted similarly "manipulated" photos of President Donald Trump and other ideological foes without attracting the notice of the Washington Post.
Trump endangered our national security. He betrayed his oath of office by undermining our elections. And he abused his power for personal and political gain.
— Nancy Pelosi (@TeamPelosi) December 18, 2019
— Nancy Pelosi (@TeamPelosi) December 6, 2019
He endangered our national security. He betrayed his oath of office by undermining our elections. And he abused his power.
The devastating testimony corroborated evidence of bribery. No one is above the law. pic.twitter.com/TjBRINfNnY
— Nancy Pelosi (@TeamPelosi) November 16, 2019
The House has taken action to protect women from domestic violence, defend our health care from Trump’s attacks, guarantee equal pay for equal work, and much more.
It's time Mitch McConnell act for the American people rather listen to Donald Trump and special interest wallets. pic.twitter.com/sYxgSEgnFY
— Nancy Pelosi (@TeamPelosi) May 7, 2019
"This story is the latest evidence that President Trump's presidency has caused folks at the Washington Post to lose their damn minds," wrote NRCC national press secretary Michael McAdams in an email.
Stefanik responded on social media by sharing a tweet saying the Washington Post engaged in the same sort of photo "manipulation" the paper had condemned. "Thank you again to @washingtonpost – we've had a huge morning of online national fundraising to Pressure Pelosi landing page because of this article!" she wrote.
Sonmez did not respond to a request for comment.