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The phony photo. (Credit: Whitehouse.gov1.info, screenshot)

The New Republic tweeted a fake photo purporting to show President Obama skeet shooting, the Weekly Standard reported.

The Weekly Standard included the text of The New Republic tweet, which has since been deleted, and pointed to its two follow-up tweets, apparently about the error.  The original tweet read, according to the Weekly Standard:

“@tnr: PHOTO: Obama shooting skeet at Camp David. http://whitehouse.gov1.info/camp-david/index.html … (from http://whitehouse.gov”

The first link goes to a website in the style of the White House’s including information on Camp David. But, at the bottom of the page, the website discloses it’s a fake, reading:

“Nope, this is not the official website of The White House. It’s a parody of whitehouse.gov.  No person, department, or agency of the U.S. Government approved, endorsed, or authorized this site. No animals were harmed while making this website (except maybe that one time when I was a little late feeding my dog his dinner).”

See below a screenshot of the top of the phony White House page:

 

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The tweets were “We see it! We see it! Not the White House!” and “OK, everyone. Apologies. Twitter sometimes leads to quick accidents.”

iMediaEthics has written twice to The New Republic asking for confirmation it sent the above tweet to the phony photo, where it got the photo, and how it learned of its error. We’ll update with any response.

While The New Republic may have simply been fooled by a fake photograph of President Obama, iMediaEthics feels the error is particularly sensitive at a time when Congress is debating a change in the nation’s gun laws in the wake of the Connecticut school massacre. A controversial image on the hotly contested topic of guns and the POTUS using one surely requires extra due diligence.

The photo error’s significance is also heightened because just days earlier, the New Republic published an interview with Obama in which he said “Yes, in fact, up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time.”

This isn’t the first time The New Republic has had egg on its face for a hoax image. In 2011, the magazine  fell for another political Photoshopped picture.  In that case, the New Republic unpublished a photo that doctored an August picture of the then-Republican presidential candidates to reflect the candidates in September. For example, Tim Pawlenty, who was in the race and the photo in August, was replaced with Rick Perry, who had joined by September and wasn’t in the August photo.

Hat Tip: Drudge Report

UPDATE: 1/31/2013 10:45 AM EST: TNR’s communications manager Annie Augustine told iMediaEthics by email:

“A member of our staff saw a tweet pointing to a site that at first glance they considered authentic–which they, in turn, cited on our own feed. Within minutes, upon realizing our mistake, we removed the tweet and apologized. We regret the careless mistake. “

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The New Republic Tweets Fake Photo of Obama Skeet Shooting?

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2 Responses

  1. Jody says:

    Love him or hate him, it is still unethical to post a fake picture of our president. I am currently enrolled in an ethics communication class and according to John Stewart we all have “characteristics of both personal and impersonal communication in which we relate to others primarily as persons or primarily as objects” and he continues on to say that “only persons are addressable, while objects are not….objects can be talked about” (Johannesen, Valde, & Whedbee, 2008, p.58). President Obama is a person first and deserves our respect, no matter how we feel about his politics. I think in this particular instance the phony tweet made of Obama was objectifying communication and was ethically wrong. Sometimes I think people don’t realize that what they see as harmless can have great ramifications to our country. The picture being tweeted is horrible timing with the gun control issues going on in Washington and had no place being tweeted at all. The New Republic has an ethical duty

  2. Jody says:

    ***Remainder of comments****The New Republic has an ethical duty to make sure that the information they send out is accurate. If they were unsure of the authenticity of the photo then it should not have been posted. Jody W.Drury UniversityJohannesen, R.L., Valde, K.S., & Whedbee, K.E. (2008). Ethics in human communication (6th ed.). Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, Inc.