May 09, 2011 10:33 PM GMT
Hillary Clinton's expression, right hand clasped over her mouth in astonishment, is largely responsible for making the above photo iconic--and, to at least one newspaper, sexually suggestive.
In the photo, President Obama and his national security team are huddled around a conference table in the White House Situation Room, watching CIA director Leon Panetta narrate last Sunday's raid on Osama bin Laden's compound. The mood is clearly tense.
When Women's Wear Daily consulted a coterie of photo editors and designers about why the image is "destined to be one for the history books," Clinton was foremost in their responses.
"The Hillary Clinton expression is the one that holds the photograph fully," Time's photo director told the magazine. "You can see 10 years of tension and heartache and anger in Hillary's face," Conde Nast's Scott Dadich agreed.
Turns out she was probably just coughing during that crucial moment captured by White House photographer Pete Souza. But nevertheless, the image still proved a bit too racy for at least one of the many newspapers that printed it.
That would be the Ultra-Orthodox Hasidic broadsheet Der Tzitung, published in Brooklyn. The paper photoshopped Clinton, as well at the only other woman who could be seen in the room--Audrey Tomason, the national director of counterterrorism--out of the frame.
"Apparently the presence of a woman, any woman, being all womanly and sexy all over the United States' counterterrorism efforts was too much for the editors of Der Tzitung to handle," noted the prominent women's blog Jezebel.
Indeed, "The Hasidic newspaper will not intentionally include any images of women in the paper because it could be considered sexually suggestive," Rabbi Jason Miller explains in The Jewish Week. Though he notes that the publication's "fauxtograpphing" may in fact be a graver act against their religious tenets: "To my mind, this act of censorship is actually a violation of the Jewish legal principle of g'neivat da'at (deceit)."
Beyond that, Der Tzitung's editors apparently missed or blatantly ignored the guidelines stipulated on the official White House Flickr page, where the photo was released for use by news organizations: "The photograph may not be manipulated in any way."
The White House has not issued a response on the altered image.
UPDATE: The editors of Der Tzitung have apologized to the White House for altering the photo and responded to the Wasington Post with a comment clarifiying their position:
"In accord with our religious beliefs, we do not publish photos of women, which in no way relegates them to a lower status... Because of laws of modesty, we are not allowed to publish pictures of women, and we regret if this gives an impression of disparaging to women, which is certainly never our intention. We apologize if this was seen as offensive."