Political photography

Anti-American photojournalist’s writings exposed.

In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, art critic Richard B. Woodward writes about how famous Magnum photographer Thomas Hoepker fabricated a story to suit his anti-American mind set. No surprise that German Hoepker proudly boasts of making his home on Manhattan’s upper east side.

The picture in question shows five people in Brooklyn chatting on the waterfront on September 11, 2001, while smoke billows from the World Trade Centers behind them.

Specifically, and scandalously, Hoepker wrote:

“It’s possible they lost people and cared, but they were not stirred by it.”

And here’s more of his tripe:

“Four and a half years later, when I was going through my archive to assemble a retrospective exhibition of my work from more than 50 years, the color slide from Brooklyn suddenly seemed to jump at me. Now, distanced from the actual event, the picture seemed strange and surreal. It asked questions but provided no answers. How could disaster descend on such a beautiful day? How could this group of cool-looking young people sit there so relaxed and seemingly untouched by the mother of all catastrophes which unfolded in the background? Was this the callousness of a generation, which had seen too much CNN and too many horror movies?”

Needless to add, Hoepker’s fraud was aided, abetted and amplifed by none other than, yes, you guessed it, The New York Times, whose Frank Rich called the image “shocking”. You can imagine how much research went into that opinion. Any publication with ethics policies would fire Rich for his drivel; I imagine a promotion is probably in store for him for getting circulation and anti-American feelings up.

Hoepker’s fraud was exposed when none other than one of the people portrayed in the picture wrote to Slate magazine stating:

“Had Hoepker walked fifty feet over to introduce himself he would have discovered a bunch of New Yorkers in the middle of an animated discussion about what had just happened.”

Subsequently, the woman in the picture – a professional photographer, no less – also contacted Slate with a poignant and moving rebuttal.

The Wall Street Journal writes succinctly that “In effect, (Hoepker) has Photoshopped (the image) in his mind so that it now belongs neatly in a more contemporary storyline of this nation’s culpability for world unease”.

Well written.

While I disagree with Woodward’s earlier statement that digital trickery has “…not eroded the truth value of photographs…” – I have shown many examples of Photoshop fraud in this journal which should make everyone sceptical – it is heartening to see people taking a stand against America’s detractors, not least against those who would, in the same breath, profer inane apologia for all that was good and great about all those moral German industrialists during WWII. You can substitute ‘German industrialists’ with ‘terrorists’, ‘WWII’ with ‘WWIII’, and it works just as well.

Update 9/102014: Hoepker’s cynical exploitation of tragedy for personal gain, his self-serving response below notwithstanding, is further addressed here.

One thought on “Political photography

  1. I welcome any kind of discussion about my photography or my writing – as long as the basic rules of honest journalism are being observed and a minimum of fairness is applied. Sadly your column titled “Political photography” is a collection of wild and unsubstantiated accusations, a rant without prior research.
    Twice you blame me for anti-Americanism, three times you write about “Hoepker’s fraud”. These are heavy accusations but sadly you don’t back them up with any kind of proof. Where exactly did you find “fraud” in either my image or my written comments? Where have you spotted an anti-American remark?? Instead you are using the old and tired defamatory tactic of quoting just part of a paragraph which I wrote, but omitting the other half. You did quote correctly: “… Was this the callousness of a generation, which had seen too much CNN and too many horror movies?…” but you conveniently left out what I wrote next: …”Or was it just the devious lie of a snapshot, which ignored the seconds before and after I had clicked the shutter? Maybe this group had just gone through agony and catharsis or a long, concerned discussion?”
    I find it remarkable that you write about the New York Times: “Any publication with ethics policies would fire (Frank) Rich for his drivel”. Using an incomplete quote to defame a person is probably the worst violation of fundamental journalistic ethics. That’s exactly what you did with my text. Consequently you should consider firing yourself from pindelski.org immediately.
    At the end of your piece, out of the blue, you get into a peculiar rant against people who “prof(f)er inane apologia for …German industrialists during WWII”. Where did this come from? Some neurons short-circuiting in your brain, simply because you read that I am of German descent? Does this automatically make me apologetic of Nazism and a WWIII terrorist? Some minimal research could have revealed to you that, at the end of WWII, I was nine years old – a bit early to have had a career as a Nazi industrialist, but old enough to be deeply impressed by the American Forces who liberated us from the unspeakable evils of Fascism. This was the moment when my belief in Democracy and my affection for America started and which later led me to emigrate to the US. Can you understand that I am deeply saddened every time I experience more erosion of democratic values in this country, which once stood for fairness, equality and civil liberties or when fair discourse is being replaced by foaming at the mouth?
    I do hope that you pass the final litmus test of democratic decency by publishing this reply to your column.
    Thomas Hoepker

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