Sorry, Wrong Caption

We wrote yesterday about the New York Times’ publication of this pieta-like image from Lebanon:

Pieta398-thumb.jpg

The caption that accompanied the picture was: “The mayor of Tyre said that in the worst hit areas, bodies were still buried under the rubble, and he appealed to the Israelis to allow government authorities time to pull them out.” The picture presumably depicted one of the “bodies,,,buried under the rubble,” in the act of being pulled out. Only the “body” was very much alive, and hardly buried, as any but the least skeptical photo editor could plainly see.

Today the Times issued this correction:

A picture caption with an audio slide show on July 27 about an Israeli attack on a building in Tyre, Lebanon, imprecisely described the situation in the picture. The man pictured, who had been seen in previous images appearing to assist with the rescue effort, was injured during that rescue effort, not during the initial attack, and was not killed.

The correct description was this one, which appeared with that picture in the printed edition of The Times: After an Israeli airstrike destroyed a building in Tyre, Lebanon, yesterday, one man helped another who had fallen and was hurt.

That’s an improvement, obviously, but it leaves unanswered the larger question: what is the Times doing reproducing this sort of propaganda image in the first place? Isn’t it obvious that this picture depicts a scene that was posed for the camera? The visual homage to a pieta is obvious. Look at the face of the man who is lying down. Is he supposed to be unconscious? Seemingly. But look how he’s holding his cap against his side with his left arm; doesn’t that appear to be a conscious act? And he was wearing that cap in an earlier photo. Why is he now holding it against his side? Maybe it was knocked off when he fell, and he caught it with his arm before he hit the ground. But I doubt it. I think he took it off to look better for his pieta pose. And look at the guy who is holding on to his arm. That’s the main action in the shot, but what’s it all about? Is he trying to help the other man to his feet? No; that isn’t what you would do to help him up; nor would you try to help him up if he were actually unconscious. He’s just lifting the man’s arm up into the air. Why? It is a pose for the camera, nothing more.

No matter how you caption it, this is a propaganda photo on behalf of Hezbollah, taken by a photographer for the New York Times.

UPDATE: Reader Ben White supplies the obvious answer:

The guy took off his hat so he could lie down. He was wearing it backward in the previous pictures. You can’t lie down on your back while wearing a hat backward — the bill of the hat gets in the way.

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