When I saw the White House’s first formal portrait of Melania Trump, I thought it was a prank: Her face was so smooth, so devoid of human signs other than bright eyes — so, well, cartoonish.
That’s too bad. She is an attractive woman who’ll be 47 on April 26. Lines enhance her beauty as she ages.
But not in the official portrait. Botox? Makeup? Photoshop? I’d bet on Photoshop, probably ordered or approved by the president, a philanderer who discards the mothers of his children as they age.
Or by Melania, lest Trump inescapably face pictures of a third aging, yet still attractive, wife.
Enough about them.
The release of Melania’s formal portrait was a brilliant, manipulative White House exercise in fake news, worthy of Kellyanne Conway, Sean Spicer or Steve Bannon’s Breitbart News.
If Melania’s image were a painting, the absence of lines in her face wouldn’t be an issue. Painted portraits are, after all, exercises in how the artist sees.
This purports to be a photograph, and it lies. No one this side of Disney or Pixar has skin like that, so plastic it could be the Pillsbury Doughboy.
American news media accepted the image uncritically, cooing over first formal portrait of FLOTUS (First Lady of the United States). They lapped it up with the kind of enthusiasm that London dailies show for anything royal.
The image is fake and its release as a formal White House portrait is disinformation.
It’s an alternative image, close enough to appear credible.
Editors who went along with this Oval Office scam were enablers, news media complicit in misleading the public.
Melania’s airbrushed, Photoshopped portrait is a fraud, a fake, an alternative image, created and distributed by the Ministry of Truth where employees paid by taxpayers create facts opposite of anything verifiable.
Not everyone bought it. Pulitzer-winning Washington Post critic Robin Givhan said the photo “is jarring because her face appears to be heavily retouched, or perhaps just photographed through a lens smeared with Vaseline. It is devoid of fine lines and pores. It is not just the near-perfect face of a former model; it is a face that does not look real.
“The artificiality of her visage is even more acute when compared to the long, chestnut locks that frame it. You don’t have to squint to make out individual strands of hair. The hair is in sharp focus. Her face is not.”
Givhan calls it “doll-like perfection.”
I call it fake.
But not her body language, arms folded across her torso, huge engagement ring confirming her husband’s wealth and power. That was genuine.
Givhan adds, “There’s plenty that one can infer from Trump’s official photograph. The body language is reminiscent of boardroom posture. It’s powerful and confident. But it’s also closed off. The framing is a close-up with little context. Yes, it was taken in the White House, but the window in the background could almost be anywhere. The photo emphasizes her, not the setting, which one could argue reflects the subject’s desire not to be defined or confined by the White House. Indeed, she is not living there. ”
Which brings up another issue. The Washington Post — a leader among news media punching back at Trump attempts to delegitimize facts — appears troubled by the lack of time Melania spends in the White House.
I caught that in the Weekly Standard — no friend of POTUS — which said, “There once was an informal editorial motto that guided the selection of topics in Style, the Washington Post lifestyle section: ‘If a story is worth doing, it’s worth doing every year.’
“But in the age of Trump, that schedule has become rather compressed: The Post is now doing the same article about Melania every couple of months.
“It was at the end of January the Style section let loose with ‘The AWOL first lady,’ decrying Melania’s demure, if not diffident, approach to being the president’s spouse. ‘Melania Trump appears to be in no hurry to heed the call of duty,’ was how reporter Krissah Thompson denounced the Donald’s bride.
“And now, come March 28, the creative team at the Post is back, this time with a big Style section cover story, ‘Melania Trump’s vanishing act.’ Which raises a philosophical question: If Mrs. Trump was absent two months ago, how can it be that she is now ‘vanishing?’ ”
Speaking of beautiful women in the public eye, Melania’s pussy-grabbing husband dismisses accusations of sexual harassment against Fox News star Bill O’Reilly.
The irony, of course, is that the Darwinian free market that Trump worships could bring down money-spinner O’Reilly.
Already skittish about any suggestion they are sexist, racist, homophobic, xenophobic and insufficiently green, advertisers are pulling out of O’Reilly’s evening program.
So far, according to NPR media critic David Folkenflik, GlaxoSmithKline, Allstate, Hyundai and Mercedes-Benz are among firms that cancelled plans to advertise on The O’Reilly Factor.
There are lots of plots playing here, in addition to accusations against O’Reilly and Trump’s assurance that O’Reilly is a good man.
Fox News is owned by Rupert Murdoch. So is the Wall Street Journal, a home-town and national competitor to the New York Times. The Times broke the story on $13 million payments to settle claims of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior by O’Reilly.
The best part, if we credit his accusers, was O’Reilly’s access to attractive women at Fox News. He’s not alone in being accused of operating a casting couch at American conservatives’ favorite cable channel.
O’Reilly is one of the aging powers at Fox News to get into trouble over accusations of sexual harassment, including demands that younger female colleagues or aspirants provide sexual services in hopes of getting or keeping jobs or winning promotions. He denies any wrongdoing over more than a decade of similar accusations.
Those accusations cost Roger Ailes, the chairman who created Fox News with Murdoch, his job. Like O’Reilly, Ailes denied any wrongdoing.
And Trump, whose only known response to criticism is to attack, told the Times, “I think (O’Reilly) shouldn’t have settled; personally I think he shouldn’t have settled. Because you should have taken it all the way. I don’t think Bill did anything wrong. … I think he’s a person I know well — he is a good person.”
Here are stories that shout, “There’s hope!” No. 1: Recent Sunday Enquirer headline, “Kentucky Coal Museum shifts to solar power.” No. 2: NPR two weeks ago. A Kansas student paper, the Booster Redux, reported that “Pittsburg High School’s newly hired principal had seemingly overstated her credentials. The principal, Amy Robertson, has now resigned, after the paper found she claimed advanced degrees from Corllins University, an entity whose legitimacy has been questioned.” Editor Trina Paul said, “We wanted be assured that she was qualified and had the proper credentials. We stumbled on some things that most might not consider legitimate credentials.” When students asked Robertson, she reportedly gave incomplete answers, conflicting dates and inconsistencies in her responses. Student reporter Gina Mathew said, “The extensive amount of research that we had done really didn’t line up with what she said was true on her end.” • The New York Times story on turmoil at University of Cincinnati’s law school credited Cincinnati Business Courier’s coverage. Those stories, by Andy Brownfield, were more than a one-day Courier effort. Knowing him, there’ll be more. Days later, the Enquirer began to catch up. • I hope we’re not going back to the Bad Old Days, when editing was so bad the Enquirer’s then-editor sent an embarrassingly detailed critique to her staff … about one day’s paper. A recent Enquirer obit got me thinking about Gannett outsourcing stories to Donunnastan or Slobovia for editing. The obit said Robert Doolan was an American pilot during World War II. It also says he was graduated from the Army Air Force’s navigator school. Was he a pilot or a navigator in his bomber? The obit said German fighter planes knocked out one of Doolan’s engines and forced him down “on a mission to England.” Wasn’t he returning from a mission over Europe? Why did losing an engine leave him “without enough gas to continue”? He was captured by “the Schutzstaffel, a Nazi paramilitary organization.” Paramilitary? That was the dreaded SS military force. Doolan was taken to “Stalag Luft III, a camp in Poland.” It was in Germany. Doolan and other inmates of Stalag Luft III were “marched deeper into Germany alongside multiple other prisoners” to Stalag VII-a at Moosburg. Deeper into Germany? I thought their prison was in Poland. And what are “multiple other prisoners”? The obit said “General George Patton broke through barbed wire with canon (sic) fire” and freed Doolan and fellow inmates. Histories credit units of Patton’s Third Army with liberating Moosburg, but they don’t mention Patton during the fight that was far tougher than blowing up some barbed wire with cannon fire. Finally, the obit said Doolan returned by ship to the U.S. in 1944, months before he was liberated in 1945. • Bad enough if the reporter made the errors in Robert Doolan’s obit (above). I hold editors accountable, wherever they are. Editors are paid to catch problems. Their job is to reduce reporters’ errors and to make reporters look good. I was saved from embarrassment by more than one editor. • Speaking of obits, I enjoyed writing them. An obit is a rare chance to tell a story without sprinkling it with “he said” or “she added.” Until it was obvious I was spitting into the wind, I urged editors at the Enquirer to require reporters to write and file their own updated obits. It would have reduced the likelihood of errors when we wrote their obits on deadline. It also would have reminded our colleagues that we are story tellers, regardless of the subject, and accurate obits are important to people who turn to daily papers for news. My obit was on file; I didn’t care what was done with it once I was dead. At least no one would have to scramble to put it together. My updated obit is in my home computer files. • Does the Enquirer have a double standard when it comes to the race of victims of gunfire? The Cameo nightclub mass shooting coverage ran for days on Page 1. It was another black-on-black homicide, but if that angle was explicit in Enquirer stories, I missed it. Coincidentally, the street lynching of James Upton, murdered after he struck and injured a child in a Walnut Hills street, has been covered as “oh, well, shit happens.” Upton, of Mason, was white. Even the caller to 911 referred to the “white dude.” The child — who survived — and at least one of Upton’s killers are black. • Ad placement can be awful or funny, depending on the stories around the ad. That’s why newspapers traditionally avoided placing ads for tobacco and alcohol next to stories about cancer and drunk driving. Similarly, airlines hated crash stories next to ads for flights to wherever. Unhappy, even if unintended juxtapositions online are so embarrassing that some major corporations are pulling or reducing ads on major websites. They want to avoid the chance they’ll run next to racist, homophobic, xenophobic, etc., stories. It can happen on radio, too. WVXU recently ran an ad for Victory of Light (psychic) Expo during Science Friday. It’s hard to imagine a greater, funnier mismatch. • Here’s further proof of a conspiracy among the fake, dishonest, liberal mainstream news media: golf. The weekly Economist cover had Trump digging himself deeper into a sand trap on the White House lawn. The New Yorker cover showed him smashing White House windows with golf balls hit from the lawn. • The Mexican newspaper Norte in the border city of Juárez closed after the murder of another journalist. Editor Oscar Cantu Murguia wrote in part: “I have made the decision to close this newspaper due to the fact that, among other things, there are neither the guarantees nor the security to exercise critical, counterbalanced journalism. “In these 27 years ... we fought against the tide, receiving attacks and punishments from individuals and governments for having exposed their bad practices and corrupt acts that only played to the detriment of our city and the people who live in it. “Everything in life has a beginning and an end, a price to pay, and if this is life, I am not prepared for any more of my collaborators to pay it, nor with my own person.” The triggering murder involved Miroslava Breach in nearby Chihuahua. Gunmen left a note saying, “For being a loud mouth.” At least 38 journalists have been killed in Mexico since 1992 for motives confirmed as related to their work, according the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York. • The Queen’s English appears alien to London’s dailymail.com: “Missing federal judge, 91, with memory problems who preceded (presided) over ‘cash for kids’ case is found ALIVE laying (lying) on his back in a wooded area after sparking a 48-hour search.” CONTACT BEN L. KAUFMAN: [email protected]