AP Apologized For Romney-and-Child Photo -- After Bill O'Reilly Predicted They Would, and Must

The Associated Press has apologized for its rude picture of Romney with a young girl gaping from behind. That happened the morning after Bill O'Reilly trashed AP on Tuesday night and predicted they would apologize.

"Here is the photo the Associated Press took at the meet and greet, a foolish shot that makes Romney the butt of stupid jokes. Pardon the pun. The picture was taken by photographer Evan Vucci and never should have been published. The Governor doesn't know there is a child behind him. And the child is looking at something else. This is a cheap shot, literally.... So the person who did that at the Associated Press who put that picture out on the wire should be fired, and the Associated Press should put out an apology, in which they will by the way after tonight." Alan Colmes tried to make excuses for AP:

Colmes said "Nobody should be fired. Did you want to fire the guy who took the Dukakis picture in the tank? How about the Biden picture with a biker chick sitting on his lap?"

O'Reilly wasn't standing for that: "Wait, wait. Now, here is how that is so grossly unfair. Romney had no idea that little girl is behind her. All right, the little girl was looking at something completely different. All right, so Romney did not put himself in a tank. And he did not put a biker chick on his lap. That's the difference....This is a total accident that this happened. The Associated Press captured it and then in a very sleazy way, used it to denigrate Mr. Romney."

“I don't think it was a purposeful act on the part of the Associated Press to make Romney look as bad as possible,” claimed Colmes. “Oh come on, replied O’Reilly. “Is there anybody in the country that agrees with that?" Later, O'Reilly added in a segment with Charles Krauthammer:

I'm really angry about the safety thing because of the use of a child in the picture. It's inexcusable. And I expect the AP to apologize tomorrow.

They don't really have much to do with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But the Associated Press used to be a proud organization and it still has the widest reach of any print wire service in the country. And to do something like this, all right, that is shameful -- it's just shameful. You know, you just -- how bad is it going to go? How low is the media going to go? And that's a question we're dealing with right now.

After Foxnews.com picked up the story (and made the Drudge Report), AP first issued a clarification that should have been in the original caption if they were going to post this bad shot: "A student, right, reacts as she realizes Romney will crouch down directly in front of her and her classmates for the group photo."

Then came the apology from AP executiv editor Kathleen Carroll:

The original caption on the photo of Gov. Romney taken Monday at a Virginia school was literally correct — it said the governor was posing for photos with schoolchildren. But it was too generic and missed the boat by not explaining exactly what was happening. The student with the surprised expression had just realized that the governor was going to crouch down in front of her for the group photo.

We amended the caption on Tuesday with that explanation, but by then many people had seen the photo and were confused by or angry about it. Those generic captions help us process a large number of photos on a busy campaign day, but some photos demand more explanation and we fell short of our own standards by not providing it in this case.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis