Yahoo Used Ground Zero Photos to Score Points on Waterboarding, Economy, Giuliani

February 10th, 2008 3:26 PM
A Yahoo photo slideshow of Ground Zero perfectly demonstrates the bias news agencies frequently insert into captions. Instead of just describing the photo, Yahoo included captions with partisan cheap shots unrelated to the image to score typical anti-War On Terror points (h/t NB reader Larry Jordan).

Out-of-place comments about waterboarding, the downturn in the economy and a criticism of Rudy Giuliani were captioned under photos of a smoking World Trade Center and Ground Zero rubble (bold mine throughout):

Slide 1: Early morning light illuminates the wreckage of the World Trade Center on September 25, 2001 in New York. The head of the CIA said Thursday it is uncertain whether the use of waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning widely condemned as torture, would be lawful if used today against Al-Qaeda detainees.

Slide 2: (same photo): Early morning light illuminates the wreckage of the World Trade Center on September 25, 2001 in New York. CIA director Michael Hayden for the first time admitted publicly Tuesday that the agency had used "waterboarding," or simulated drowning, in interrogations of three top Al-Qaeda detainees nearly five years ago.

Yahoo used a photo of the “Tribute in Lights” to criticize Giuliani, which is, of course, the appropriate time to address his fatal command center decision:

Slide 21: The 'Tribute in Lights' shines on the skyline of lower Manhattan as the sixth anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center is observed in New York, September 11, 2007. A detailed 1998 New York Police Department analysis opposed the city's plans to locate its emergency command center at the World Trade Center but then-mayor Rudolph Giuliani's administration overrode the objections, The New York Times reported on Saturday.

This series of six photos perfectly illustrated how the media skew captions to drive home a specific message. In this case, Yahoo used photos of Ground Zero construction to make negative comments about the economy. The news agency started with different captions for each photo and then cut-and-pasted the same negative statement about the economy into each one. For example:

Slide 6: Workers rest during a lunch break at the Freedom Tower construction site on Jan. 25, 2008 in New York. Construction and factory workers have been especially hard hit by the meltdown in housing and other troubles in the economy. Spending on all construction projects by both private builders and the government fell by 2.6 percent last year, also an all-time low in records dating back to 1993.

This slideshow could have been better edited. Yahoo included several photos with no connection to the Ground Zero theme, just captions containing the words “9/11” or “ground zero” and seven images of architectural representations of the rebuilt WTC site. Between poorly selected photos and biased captioning, this Ground Zero slideshow did not reflect well upon Yahoo.


*photo AFP/file/Eric Feferberg

Lynn contributes to NewsBusters and can be reached at tvisgoodforyou2 A T yahoo D O T com (replace AT and DOT with “@” and “.” for the actual email)