Time Gives Jeff Sessions the OJ Simpson Photo Treatment

March 29th, 2018 7:23 PM

In June 1994, a Time Magazine cover photo of O.J. Simpson after his arrest generated heated controversy because his photo had been significantly darkened. The magazine's latest issue treats Jeff Sessions similarly, even though the Trump administration's Attorney General hasn't been accused of murdering anybody or credibly accused of any crime.

The treatment given Simpson is seen by comparing Newsweek and Time covers shortly after his arrest:




As reported in the June 25, 1994 New York Times:

In response to the barrage of criticism about Time magazine's cover portrait of O. J. Simpson in the current issue, James R. Gaines, managing editor, posted an electronic message on a computer bulletin board on Wednesday stating that "no racial implication was intended, by Time or by the artist."

... The cover has been criticized and discussed in newspapers and on television as well as in dozens of electronic messages on America Online.

...... Some critics said that by darkening the photo of Mr. Simpson's face Time gave him a more sinister appearance and was thus guilty of racism. Other critics said the magazine had displayed poor editorial judgment.

Readers may also recall this same treatment being given to someone else who served in the Trump administration. For its February 13 cover, Steve Bannon was menacingly portrayed as "The Great Manipulator." Since then, Bannon not only left the White House, but had a falling out with the President following the publication of the sleezy Trump gossip book Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff:



Now let's a look at photo of Jeff Sessions taken with normal exposure side by side with Time's latest cover:



The photographer's tweet about his cover photo indicates that we shouldn't expect an apology from him or anyone else at the magazine any time soon (h/t Fox News):




Reporter Molly Ball's related article is predictably hostile, as is the accompanying selection of photos.

Here are a few content lowlights, with hostile labeling bolded:

... The first Senator to endorse Trump, Sessions gave him credibility with the far right and provided the intellectual framework for his law-and-order sloganeering.

... He has dramatically shifted the orientation of the Justice Department, pulling back from police oversight and civil rights enforcement and pushing a hard-line approach to drugs, gangs and immigration violations.

... Sessions’ liberal critics agree that he’s been remarkably effective. That’s why they find him so frightening. He has, they charge, put the full force of law behind Trump’s racially coded rhetoric.

... At 71, he is full of energy, and his slight stature and elfin ears give him a buoyancy that belies his severe views. His bright eyes and upturned mouth make him look like he’s smiling even when he’s delivering a jeremiad against criminals or foreigners.

Now let's look at the relevant portions of each of Montgomery's photos — every one of them black-and-white, and none showing Sessions smiling:


JeffSessions1TimeMag0318  JeffSessions2TimeMag0318  JeffSessions3TimeMag0318  JeffSessions4TimeMag0318


Time also gave then-Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed the O.J. treatment in May 1995, and has published several deeply offensive covers during the Trump administration.

Time Inc.'s financial fortunes have so seriously deteriorated that a week ago, Meredith, which recently acquired it, announced layoffs of 26 percent of its staff and that its key properties, including Time, will be sold offif anybody wants them.

Time's current staff remains determined to keep doing what's brought them to the brink until the lights go out.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.