Tuesday, January 30, 2007

CNN Making News?

CNN Headline news has been showing pictures from a MLK day "theme parties" that took place on some college campuses recently. I'm not sure who broke these stories, but I first read about these blatantly racist "theme parties" over on the Smoking Gun.

Here are the pictures from the Texas College MLK Day Party.

Here are the pictures from the Clemson University MLK Day Party.

Here are the pictures from a UConn Party, NOT HELD on MLK day.

Clearly poor judgement by the students. Images of fried chicken, Aunt Jemima, and students in black face are racist and offensive... especially when they are held on Martin Luther King Day.

Because these images are racist and offensive, and the party goers all appear to be white, CNN Headline news is showing some of the more offensive images.

I've been blogging all morning/afternoon. CNN Headline news has been on in the background (I usually watch Fox News, but I wasn't paying much attention to the news anyway).

So what? Well, CNN has repeatedly shown a picture that looks like it was made in Photoshop, touting the picture as "the most offensive image of all."

I don't have a screen shot of the picture. I really wish I did, because I think I can prove it is fake.

The picture is supposedly of a poster that was allegedly at one of the parties. This poster does not appear in any of the photos available on the Smoking Gun. The picture is of Martin Luther King Jr. with a crudely drawn "talk-bubble" coming from his mouth, which says "Drink More Beer." Everything about the picture SCREAMS photoshop. This doesn't mean that a student didn't photoshop it, have the photo developed into a poster, and put the poster up at one of the parties... but the picture CNN showed didn't LOOK like a poster. It looked almost exactly like this:

This is a fake picture, it looks like what was shown on CNN

(When I made this pic, I was working from memory. The pic shown on CNN only said "Drink More")

Please do not misunderstand, the above photo was photoshopped and did NOT appear on CNN; however, a picture with an eerie resemblance DID appear on CNN and was purportedly supposed to be a "poster" which appeared at one of the parties. Again, this picture does not appear on The Smoking Gun, while the rest of the offensive picture's from the CNN story appear to have come from The Smoking Gun.

I am postulating that CNN either knowingly, or unknowingly, placed a fake picture on television that was generated in photoshop and used as the emphasis for one of their headline news items. I can't prove it because I don't have a screenshot or clip of the story.

It seems that CNN may not be to blame for this (again, I am only postulating that the picture of MLK was fake and had nothing to do with the party).

I noticed that CNN Headline News was running the story again, so I ran to the VCR and taped what I could of the segment. Here is a screen shot of the picture:

CNN Capture

I noticed in the corner of the pic the call letters WHNS. So I went to WHNS.com and low and behold I found the origins of this story....

a FOX news affiliate in North Carolina, and a reporter by the name of Jennifer Phillips. They also have the exact video which I appeared also on CNN Headline News. The story was basically a transcript of the video:

Jennifer Phillips reporting

CLEMSON, S.C.-- As students at Clemson University head to class. Some are taking a break to talk about what they call "disturbing pictures." Those pictures were taken at an off-campus party.

One guy in the photos painted his body black, and other students showed up gripping bottles of 40 ounce malt liquor with their hands duct taped to the bottles.

LeRone Smalls, a senior at the school says it is very offensive. "They acted out of ignorance," Smalls said. The theme was a "Living the Dream" party held on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. "It promotes a negative image of black people- the race of people," said Smalls.

There are more pictures which show a girl showing off some gold teeth and wearing a t-shirt that shows someone smiling with a gold grill. Another picture shows a girl with her pants stuffed to enlarge her "behind," and there are several people sporting gold chains, jerseys and baggy clothes.

However, some say the most offensive thing is a poster which shows Dr. King with the words "drink more" coming out of his mouth. Adedoyin Salami went to the party. "It went from making fun of a cultural phenomenon, to making fun of a culture of people. At that point it became offensive, and a lot of people left the party," said Salami.

Adedoyin says he left too, but originally came dressed in business attire. He says he went hoping to change minds. "There are difference among people, and we have to learn to work with each other in a way we're not always stereotyping people," said Salami.

We decided to show the pictures to other students on campus to see what they thought.

"It seems almost racist," said one student.

Some students couldn't believe it, like Ashley York. "This doesn't represent Clemson, and I think this is a poor judgment on their part," said York.

Justin Griffith, a Sophomore at Clemson, says it didn't offend him at all. "These kind of theme parties, I mean there are even lingerie parties, those are popping up a lot more often too. So, I mean this is pretty commonplace to tell you the truth. You see you got white and black people here so its' not really defining anybody," said Griffith.

However, we had to point out that the picture he was looking at was a white guy painted in black face.

Now there are students who say they want to teach others a lesson- one of respect.

I've contacted Jennifer Phillips to inquire as to the origins of the MLK "Drink More" photo. My inquiry centers around a few interesting facts:

1) Where did the picture of the poster of MLK which said "Drink More" come from? It wasn't among the other pictures from Clemson reported elsewhere.

2) Nothing in the picture suggests it was actually at the party.

3) It doesn't look like a poster.

4) It looks like the first image that appears when you type "Martin Luther King" into a google image search.

5) It was obviously Photoshopped.

6) It could have been at the party, having been photoshopped, developed, and put up by one of the party goers, but why wouldn't the picture appear different (having been printed and photographed at the party you would expect variances in lighting from the party, flash, etc) and why is it cropped such that there is no evidence at all to suggest that it was ever at the party?

Take a good look at the picture:

And this picture:

(granted the resolution is better on the second image, but I could easily manipulate it by lowering the resolution and blurring to make it look identical)

Aside from the clearer resolution, there is basically no difference between the pics. Nothing suggests that the image provided in Phillips's story was printed and then photographed at a party (you would expect variances in hue/lighting) and you would expect to see more of the picture, not less (the first photo is a slightly cropped from the original... but you don't see any more of the photo... for instance a thumbtack attaching it to a board, or tape to keep it attached to a wall. You don't see the photo as appearing on a desk or a sofa. All you see is a photo that is not in the traditional shape of a poster.)

I believe the photo is a fake. I am awaiting a response from Phillips.

I emailed Ms. Phillips a few times asking about the origins of the photo. She was kind enough to respond, saying, "We were told that this came from a flyer promoting the party. I called it a poster, so you won't see it in any of the pictures."

This is clearly NOT a photo of a flyer, but COULD have been used in a promotional flyer. (evidence that this is not a true representation of a reproduction of the photo is this: Why color print promotional pictures of a black and white photo? AND if this were a promotional flyer, why don't we see anything promoting the party? Ex. Location, Theme, Cover Charge, etc.)

It COULD have been used to promote the party online. This would explain why there is just the one clearly photoshopped picture; however, if that were the case, why not just show a link to the source?

The only other way this photo could be authentic is if Ms. Phillips acquired it directly from one of the party organizers. She didn't name her source except to say, "We we told that this came from a flyer promoting the party."

I am trying to track down some of the party goers to see if I can authenticate the pic.

1 comment:

haygis said...

It is extremely bizarre how you are fixating on one hardly relevant element of an entirely racist incident. Why is this? Do you think that if you can "prove" that the MLK image was fabricated, that the underlying and overlying racism of the students involved will be dismissable?

Also bizarre is your fixation on the quality of the image. These are clearly college students with little regard for detail or artistic merit...why would they bother with the standards by which you are basing your entire premise on?

There are many obvious ways anyone could have gotten the image...main one being right click and save which would have saved only the image and not a hyperlink.

You are somehow invested in proving the image a fake or somehow egregiously attained and why? Do you think to lessen the actions of the racist students through discrediting the authenticity of the image? Even if the image is a fake, as you believe, the students behaviour alone is enough of an indictment.

Get over yourself...white racism is alive and well in the US. Best to simply own it and move on rather than compose elaborate conspiracies.