White House Botching Photography

The news went running with what was happening in this photo. They described the faces of President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with more than a thousand words.

ABC’s Ann Compton 5/2/11:

“Clinton’s hand covers her mouth in gesture of astonishment.”

UK Telegraph: what did Hillary Clinton see?

The image captures Hillary Clinton’s expression of horror: the Secretary of State’s eyes are wide with fright and she holds a hand to her mouth, as if to stifle a gasp.

Seattle Times: A riveting photo, a moment still undefined

President Barack Obama leans forward, deadly serious. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton holds her right hand over her mouth, a worried look on her face.

The Washington Post goes beyond sanity in a full breakdown of the picture. No, seriously, they analyzed every pixel. Over-analyzed every pixel. They focus tightly on Hillary Clinton:

It is Hillary Clinton who seizes the audience. With the gesture of the hand to the mouth, as if masking a gasp, she is expressive, emotional and human, a Cassandra who stands out amid the lockjawed, impassive ensemble. The photo depicts a pas de deux between the president and his secretary of state, former competitors now moving in sync to take down an off-stage enemy. -Sarah Kaufman, Dance Critic

Yeah, WaPo got a dance critic to cement the moment for their readers. I have had a few discussions with colleagues, friends and family about the photo. Some were steadfast that she was gasping with a shocked look on her face. I think some went really far to make this picture mean more than what was there.

Hillary Clinton finally commented on the famous photo:

I am somewhat sheepishly concerned that it was my preventing one of my early spring allergic coughs. So it may have no great meaning whatsoever.

I’m thinking whoever put that photo up picked it because they wanted to narrate shock, gasp and anxiety from the Secretary of State. What’s more puzzling than that photo is the one distributed from Obama’s speech on Osama bin Laden’s death. While the one I snapped is a screenshot from the White House YouTube channel, the one distributed of him at the podium was taken from a re-enactment for photographers after he went off the air.

I don’t know how this band of White House officials is botching photography these days. For a group highly critical of Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” photo, you’d think they would get their photo-ops down.

[Read the ORIGINAL at AJ Federation’s Blog]