WaPo Reveals Photoshop Is Problematic If It Targets Dems

Paper attacks Elise Stefanik for 'manipulating' Pelosi photo

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R., N.Y.) / Getty Images
• January 9, 2020 1:20 pm


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."

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.

Pelosi herself often has tweeted similarly "manipulated" photos of President Donald Trump and other ideological foes without attracting the notice of the Washington Post.

"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.