A recent blog item by Cincinnati Enquirer columnist Peter Bronson has generated plenty of national attention for the newspaper, all of the negative variety.
Bronson posted comments July 1 on his ironically titled blog, Bronson is Always Right, which criticized the long-delayed appointment of writer and comedian Al Franken as one of Minnesota’s senators. Accompanying the item was a photograph of Franken wearing a diaper, bunny ears and holding a stuffed animal. Bronson wrote, “There must be some great ads to be made from Franken’s clips and quips."—-
Use of the photo, however, unleashed a torrent of criticism.
As first noted on The Cincinnati Beacon Web site, none other than an Enquirer reporter, Jon Craig, long ago debunked the photo as an altered fake. The Ohio Republican Party doctored it in 2004 as part of a smear campaign against Franken, who by that time was a liberal radio talk show host.
(How Bronson accessed the photo without also accessing Craig’s article debunking it remains a mystery.)
Word of Bronson’s sloppy faux pas quickly spread. It was cited in online articles by Editor & Publisher, the Poynter Center’s Romenseko column, MinnPost.com, the popular Eschaton political blog and elsewhere.
After all the attention, Bronson initially apologized Monday — more or less — for posting the altered photo. He wrote, “Yes, the photo of Franken in a diaper was apparently altered. But it’s not exacly (sic) a big reach to believe it could have come from one of his SNL skits. It resonates because people find it easy to see Franken that way.” Bronson changed the photo but left the rest of original item intact on his blog.
As of late yesterday, though, the original item has now completely disappeared from The Enquirer’s Web site.
Deleting the item is a bit like closing the barn door after the horse has escaped. Regardless, whoever made the decision should rethink it. As the old political axiom goes, the cover-up is usually worse than the crime.