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Honest McCain Photography: The Atlantic’s Cover Becomes The Latest New Yorker

The article, on the Republican Presidential candidate’s view of wars (both past and present) is by Jeffrey Goldberg. When he discovered the controversial nature of the photograph, he expressed his disgust on his blog.

The Photograph

The cover photo was taken by Jill Greenberg. It’s not flattering, but according to the New York Post, she tricked McCain into standing over a strobe light for the shoot – resulting in his face being distorted in some of the photos. The Atlantic, to it’s credit, chose a more conventional photograph for its cover. It’s editor, James Bennet, defended the picture used while condemning Greenberg’s behavior as “outrageous” and “unprofessional.”


Jill Greenberg is one of the most successful commercial photographers in the US. She has photographed numerous famous people including actors Will Smith, Tom Cruise, TV Host Stephen Colbert and the Dixie Chicks. Her photos have appeared on the covers of Time, Wired and other publications.

Greenberg on her website (The Manipulator) has posted rejected photos from the shoot, with alterations. One has the caption “It was really fun to cheat on my car-injury-disabled first wife”, while another depicts the Senator as licking the blood off his lips and having monster-teeth.

This is not the first time Greenberg has gotten in trouble for controversial exhibits. Her series “End Times” was criticized by bloggers as “child abuse.”

The series consisted of photos of crying children, with captions of quotations about the Bush Administration and Christian Fundamentalism in the United States. She got the reactions from the toddlers in the photos by giving them candy and suddenly taking it away.

The New Yorker

This controversy over magazine covers comes a few months after The New Yorker published a controversial cartoon on its cover depicting Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama in a turban, next to an American flag burning in the fireplace. He is depicted fist-bumping his wife Michelle, who is dressed in camoflauge pants, with an afro hairstyle.

The magazine was criticized for running the cover, as many thought it was racist and reinforced stereotypes attached to the Obamas. The magazine defended the cover as a satire of those stereotypes, but that did not soften the backlash.

The difference in the case of The Atlantic is that the editor of the magazine has condemned Greenberg’s tactics, as has Goldberg. In that respect, it can be argued that the Atlantic had no role in the controversy.

But the cover is still a photo from the set of McCain photos. Will the criticism of the magazine still happen? It might, especially since the campaign has been increasingly hostile to the media in the last several weeks.

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