Like others at the Atlantic, I was appalled to read about the actions of Jill Greenberg, the freelance photographer who took the cover portrait that illustrates my article about John McCain. Greenberg doctored photographs of McCain she took during her Atlantic-arranged shoot, which took place last month in Las Vegas. She has posted these doctored photographs on her website, which you can go find yourself, if you must. Suffice it to say that her "art" is juvenile, and on occasion repulsive. This is not the issue, of course; the issue is that she betrayed this magazine, and disgraced her profession. Here is a partial account, from the New York Post, of what she did, and of the Atlantic's reaction to what she did:
"Greenberg also crowed that she had tricked McCain into standing over a strobe light placed on the floor - turning the septuagenarian's face into a horror show of shadows.
Asking McCain to 'please come over here' for a final shot, Greenberg pretended to be using a standard modeling light.
The resulting photos depict McCain as devilish, with bulging brows and washed-out skin.
'He had no idea he was being lit from below," Greenberg said, adding that none of his entourage picked up on the light switch either. 'I guess they're not very sophisticated,' she said.
The Atlantic opted not to use the distorted McCain shot on its cover, selecting instead a more straightforward portrait. 'We stand by the picture we are running on our cover," said Atlantic editor James Bennet. 'We feel it's a respectful portrait. We hope we'll be judged by that picture.'
But Bennet was appalled by Greenberg saying she tried to portray McCain in an unflattering way.
'We feel totally blind-sided,' he said. 'Her behavior is outrageous. Incredibly unprofessional.'
Greenberg later decided to use some of the images she was assigned to take to make a political statement.
Her Web site now features a series of Photoshopped pics of McCain in some highly unflattering poses - including one that has a monkey squirting dung onto the Republican candidate's head. Another one reads 'I am a bloodthirsty warmongerer,' with McCain retouched to have needle-sharp shark teeth and a vicious grin, while licking blood-smeared lips."
I don't know Greenberg (I count this as a blessing) and I can add nothing to what James Bennet told the Post except to say that Greenberg is quite obviously an indecent person who should not be working in magazine journalism. Every so often, journalists become deranged at the sight of certain candidates, and lose their bearings. Why, this has even happened in the case of John McCain once or twice. What I find truly astonishing is the blithe way in which she has tried to hurt this magazine.