By Michael d’Oliveira
Stop trusting photographs.
Seeing is not always believing, especially when politics is involved.
On her verified Instagram account, Lynne Patton, an official with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, shared a meme of CNN anchor Anderson Cooper.
The meme reads, “If the media will lie about this what else are they lying about?”
If you go just by the photo, it might look as though Cooper was trying to make the water look deeper than it actually was. He wasn’t.
Cooper defended himself and his reporting and debunked the meme by playing a video of his coverage – from Hurricane Ike in 2008.
Cooper clearly wasn’t trying to make things seem worse than they were.
“The good news here is the water is subsiding,” he says in the video. The whole point of having the camera crew on the road and Cooper just a few feet away was to demonstrate how deep the water can suddenly get and why people should be cautious and stay on the road if possible.
So, Cooper basically did the opposite of what the meme claimed he did.
If anyone is lying here, it’s the person who made the meme.
There’s also a good chance that they just saw the photo and assumed they knew the whole story. Jumping to conclusions seems to have become the national pastime.
That’s why you can’t trust photographs. They can be taken out of context or even photoshopped.
One recent meme (posted below) claims that a group of baseball players, in what looks like the 1950s, kneeled during the National Anthem in protest of black lynching’s.
By the way the men are standing, it’s clearly a team photo with no political agenda behind it. But the crowd behind the men also offers a clue: many of the people seem to be sitting. Something most people don’t do during the National Anthem. Either way, there’s no proof the players were protesting in the photo. So there’s no reason you should just believe they were just because someone slapped a few words on a photo.
If the American experiment is going to survive, Americans, as a whole, are going to have to become a lot more skeptical about what we read, hear, and see. As Hunter S. Thompson said, “In a democracy, you have to be a player.” Was he talking about “fake news”? I doubt it. But, in today’s democracy, being a player means being good at not letting false information fool you.