Photo bias

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Photo bias (or image bias) is a tactic of using an unflattering or menacing photo of a supporter of an opposing position to create a hostile impression in the reader. Photo bias can also be used to shape a reader's perception of an event. As an example, a newspaper or website may make use of a photo of a rally that was taken early in the event (before the bulk of the participants had arrived) to give the impression of poor attendance. Furthermore, photo bias may be used to make an event appear more violent or peaceful than it actually was by choosing to either focus on, or ignore, law enforcement activities.

Examples include:

  • Time magazine's cover photo of Ann Coulter, designed to make her look like a childish fool.[1]
  • The New York Times's photo (June 10, 2007) of a man with missing teeth to represent opponents of the pending federal immigration bill
  • Photo of Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam Hussein in 1983 while Ronald Reagan's special envoy to the Middle East.[2]
  • Mark Crispin Miller's polemical book Cruel and Unusual: Bush/Cheney's New World Order. The front cover of the first edition (published in 2005) presented Bush with a hostile facial expression.[3]