The White House Blew This One

9:21 PM

Back on April 27th, the good people of New York City were scared half out of their wits by the sight of a 747 escorted by a couple of fighter jets low and slow just above skyscraper level. The people below were justifiably mortified since these are people who will never, ever get over 09.11.01, for good reason.

This was however not a act of aggression against America, no, these were United States military planes. In fact, the big honkin' one was AIR FORCE ONE – without the President on board – and the secret mission being flown was...a photo shoot. Seems someone in the White House press office thought it'd be a gas to have some new images of AF1 with the Statue of Liberty in the background.

The sight of low flying airliners over Manhattan caused a great deal of panic, and while NYPD was briefed, the public had not been, for security purposes. So reports came out everywhere of people running into the streets, and whole buildings of people freaking the hell out. Jeez, who could have saw THAT coming?

After the story broke, the White House apologized, and President Obama – who apparently did not know this was planned – was said to be "furious" when he heard about the photo op. Ya think?

The Huffington Post reports the cost of this photo op at $328,835, and in these troubled times, one has to wonder why the beautiful shots the WH already has of AF1 wasn't good enough. And while analyzing this story, HuffPo joined, oh, about a GAZILLION other media outlets, photographers, graphic designers, and of course, MR. OBVIOUS, in publicly wondered this:

In this digital world that we live in, it is rare to find an image of any kind that hasn't been ran through Photoshop, if only for color and exposure correction. In fact, trying to find an advertising or publicity image that hasn't been manipulated in some way is impossible. There are ethical guidelines we Photoshop professionals must adhere to, and the most important is to not deceive the viewer. Remove a parked car here, green up the grass there, maybe even make a model a tad thinner, all perfectly acceptable. Usually, it would not be acceptable to photograph Air Force One over the Atlantic and Photoshop it flying by the Manhattan skyline...that is deception. But if anyone had stopped this train wreck of a photo shoot long enough to think it through, surely it made more sense to produce the shot in Photoshop than to spend almost $400K to scare the crap out of the perfectly happy citizens of NYC.
To prove their point, HuffPo's artist spent $6 on a stock photo of NYC and whipped up an acceptable a reported 90 seconds. I created a similar low-rez web image at the top of this post in about 4 minutes. Had I made this a high-resolution image and spent some time on it, I can assure you that 99% of Photoshop users would not have found one thing to indicate the -47 was not actually flying over Manhattan when the shutter was clicked.

One of NYC's own papers, The New York Daily News, has taken this "should have used Photoshop" theory much further, and has been running a contest where viewers can submit their own Photoshopped creations of AF1 flying in all sorts of crazy places. The submission showing AF1 buzzing King Kong as the monkey hangs off the Empire State Building is hilarious.

Sometimes, I wonder how anyone in our Federal Government functions day-to-day. I seriously hope my President speaks his mind to the people in charge of making the poor decision to complete this ill-timed shoot in airspace that is much more sensitive to low-flying airliners than any other. Had I been the current occupant of the Oval Office when this gigantic mistake happened, heads would have rolled.

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