New York Times under fire for allegedly cropping George W. Bush from front-page Selma photograph

by Gannon Burgett

posted Friday, March 13, 2015 at 1:59 PM EST


The New York Times is taking heat for allegedly cropping out former President George W. Bush and his wife Laura from a photograph documenting President Barrack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at the 50th anniversary march that took place this past weekend in Selma, Alabama.

Not long after Sunday’s edition The New York Times hit racks did the critics come out slamming the publication and photographer responsible for taking the image. The New York Times quickly came to its own defense when Times photo editor, Michele McNally, told Times public editor, Margaret Sullivan, that no cropping was done and the image was printed ‘as we received it’.

Photographer Doug Mills, who captured the image, came to back up those statements. In an email to McNally, he said that while he did capture a wider image of the anniversary march and its participants via remote camera, he chose to send the tighter version he captured with his 70–200mm lens. This decision was due to better composition in the chosen image and an imbalance in exposure in the wider shot, which left the section where former President Bush and his wife were, overexposed.

While the wider image has not been shared publicly, below is a smartphone photograph shared by Atlanta-based WSB-TV that shows the march as it was happening around the time Mills is said to have captured the photograph.

Sullivan shared the following section in her follow-up article, explaining the process that led to the final image being chosen:

“Technically, it’s a bad picture, and [Mills] didn’t even send it,” [McNally] said. President Bush “was totally overexposed,” she said. The photograph that was published is compositionally strong and “it has impact.”

No further comments have been made by The New York Times since Sullivan's statement.