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The Sun Sets on Staged Presidential Photos

BY Nancy Scola | Friday, May 13 2011

White House photo by Chuck Kennedy

Remember last week's mini-debate over whether the time had passed on the staging of presidential photos?

The White House said it is ending its long-running practice of having presidents re-enact televised speeches for news photographers following major addresses to the country, a little-known arrangement that fed suggestions of fakery when Barack Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden.

After Obama's live, late-evening address from the East Room of the White House on May 1, five photographers were ushered in to shoot pictures as the president stood at the podium and re-read a few lines of his speech — a practice that news organizations have protested for years.

Even though The Associated Press and other news outlets said in captions to the photos that they were taken after the president delivered his address, many people who saw them may have assumed they depicted the speech itself. That raised questions of whether news organizations were staging an event.

So reports the AP's David Bauder. The details are still being worked out. The news services, of course, aren't in love with the idea of depending on the White House's crack photo unit for stills.

("Staged photos" isn't meant to include photo ops. We're talking here about situations where the White House re-enacts events so that photographers get a good shot, as happened with President Obama's speech announcing the death of Osama Bin Laden.)