Pelosi's office releases doctored photo of female lawmakers

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's office sent a photo of female lawmakers to press Thursday to commemorate a huge moment for the Democratic Party: The first time its House of Representatives caucus didn't have a majority of white men.

Unfortunately, four members were late to the photo shoot.

"Please note this version has the four Members who were late photo-shopped in," Pelosi spokesperson Drew Hammill wrote in an email to news outlets Thursday evening. In a subsequent email to Poynter, Hammill confirmed that the four latecomers were placed in the rear of the group.

Here's the Associated Press version of the photo:

Photo by Cliff Owen/Associated Press

And here's the photo Pelosi's office released:

Photo courtesy Nancy Pelosi's office

The additional lawmakers were photoshopped into the back row:

New York Times reporter Ashley Parker wrote an account of the composite photo:

As latecomers wandered up, the women called for the photographer to wait, pointing out the stragglers.

“Here comes Rosa! Here comes Rosa!” they cheered, referring to Representative Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, who came jogging up from the left side.

They urged Representative Gwen Moore of Wisconsin to hurry, as she made her way down the steps and to the group. “I’m coming!” she said, to laughter.

But Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida emerged from the House moments too late, just as the group was dispersing. However, all was not lost; the photographer took some shots of the late arrivals, and the caucus plans to Photoshop them in.

DeLauro made the AP photo (as well as the Getty Images shot the Times ran in Parker's blog post).

In 2011, the White House ended the longstanding practice of staging photos after Poynter and other outlets reported that photos of President Barack Obama announcing the death of Osama bin Laden were re-created for still photographers after his initial statement to the press.

A Google image search turned up only two news outlets using the doctored photo: Salem (N.H.) Patch and Exeter (N.H.) Patch.

Update: Pelosi defends photo as "accurate historical record" while journalists uncover additional manipulations to the image

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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