The blog From the Pen catches USA Today pulling a Daniel Lee with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. During her Senate testimony on Wednesday, America's top shoe aficionada gave the Senators this stern look:
But when McPaper got through with her, the secretary of state was flashing insane, feline, demonic, disturbingly sanpaku glares at an innocent nation:
USA Today has swapped out the altered pic, with the following explanation:
Editor's note: The photo of Condoleezza Rice that originally accompanied this story was altered in a manner that did not meet USA TODAY's editorial standards. The photo has been replaced by a properly adjusted copy. Photos published online are routinely cropped for size and adjusted for brightness and sharpness to optimize their appearance. In this case, after sharpening the photo for clarity, the editor brightened a portion of Rice's face, giving her eyes an unnatural appearance. This resulted in a distortion of the original not in keeping with our editorial standards.
Plausible? Maybe. As an editor, I consider it a matter of principle to run the most absurd and unflattering pics of public figures I can possibly find. Thus I believe the the Photoshop sharpen tool (the clear culprit here) does not make politicians ugly; it merely reveals the ugliness of their souls. A close look at the altered Rice photo indicates that not only her eyes but her entire head was sharpened—though there appears to have been a particular concentration on the eyes. Here's what the original photo above looks like if you sharpen the whole head once, and the eye area one additional time:
Not an exact match, but pretty close, and considering I was working from the published version of the image and not the one USA Today used in the first place—which presumably was of a different size and thus would have yielded different results when they were Photoshopping it—I'd say there's sufficient room for doubt. We can't say with certainty that USA Today was acting with malice aforethought. When somebody recuts store security camera footage of Condi trying on her Ferragamo shoes into a clip of an impromptu victory jig, I'll really be impressed.
Update: Robert A. George critiques another photo, this one posted by rageaholic Steve Gilliard. Close examination of the photo in question indicates it may in fact have been altered.