Saturday, December 29, 2012

EXCLUSIVE: Breitbart Website's Dishonest Use of Two Photos In Stories About Sidwell Friends School

Does anyone at Brietbart know that L.A. is not in D.C.?
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Sorry Breitbart: This is NOT Sidwell Friends School.
(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes) (Damian Dovarganes)
Click image to enlarge (see original story).
Dec. 29, 2012 - BUSTED: Breitbart's "Big Government" website is using two photos that they present falsely as being taken at the exclusive Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C., attended by the Obama daughters. In my opinion, they did this deliberately. Sadly, both photos are being reproduced by bloggers who don't know how, or are too lazy, to do a little basic research to confirm facts.

One of the photos in question was most certainly not taken at Sidwell. The other is highly suspicious. Let me explain, and keep in mind that I am a conservative blogger who doesn't like fellow conservative bloggers presenting lies, whether on purpose or through stupidity. We all make mistakes. I sure do, but I correct them when I become aware of them. I would never do what the Breitbart kiddies did here.

BAD PHOTO #1: On Dec. 23, Breitbart's "Big Government" website published a photo as part of a story about security guards at Sidwell Friends School, the private institution in Washington, D.C. that the Obama daughters attend. The article, written by someone who calls himself A.W.R. Hawkins, is titled "D.C. School Posts Job Opening For Police Officer." A photo at the top of that article shows four burly, armed guards. The photo has no caption, and no source is given.

Trouble is, the photo was actually taken in February, 2011 on the other side of the continent, in Los Angeles. The armed men are Los Angeles Unified School District police, and they were guarding Miramonte Elementary school during a protest in Los Angeles on Monday, Feb. 6, 2012. Sadly, hundreds of conservative bloggers are mindlessly republishing the same photos as they follow Breitbart like zombies, telling their readers that the photo is of Sidwell Friends School.

Why did Breitbart's Big Government use a  photo of a school in L.A. in a piece about a private school in D.C.? Does the Breitbart organization have nobody in the D.C. metro area that could have provided them with a photo of the school? No doubt that could have happened.... but not with armed men standing in a dramatic photo. Better to grab that L.A. school photo, don't put a caption on it, and slap it into the post about Sidwell. That's not just lazy, that's deliberately presenting disinformation. (In my opinion, of course.)

Where was this photo taken? When? By whom?
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BAD PHOTO #2: This is another baffling Breitbart use of a photo. This one was in another post by the same A.W.R. Hawkins, titled "School Obama's Daughters Attend Has 11 Armed Guards." What a  photo! Look! Three men with binoculars! They're looking at things! But, are they really Secret Service? The photo has no caption, no attribution, no date. The name of the photo file in the story is "sidwellfriendsSecretService.jpg," but that means nothing. A photo file is easily renamed.

"Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC," wrote Hawkins, "has 11 security officers and is seeking to hire a new police officer as we speak." Really? The only substantiation of that Hawkins gives is a link to a jobs site called Job Hustler, where there is no mention of Sidwell Friends School at that link. But wait! That was just sloppy work by Hawkins: Sidwell is seeking a security guard, but the correct link is hereSo Hawkins was right about the want ad, but we're still left with no documentation or substantiation of his claim that Sidwell currently has 11 armed guards. An unnamed source? He didn't say. A school official? He didn't say. Lazy journalism? Yep.

Sidwell by satellite: Where were those Secret Service guys standing?
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THE REALLY WEIRD THING about this photo is that there does not seem to be any such place on the grounds of Sidwell Friends School. Look for yourself, at this Google satellite view of Sidwell, located at 3825 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20016.

Notice the structure on which the three men are standing. It clearly has a flat roof. But try to find a structure that small with a flat roof on the Google maps satellite image below. Again, I'm not saying that these are not Secret Service guys. I just question where this photo was taken, and it's questionable because the Breitbart editors are lazy and didn't care to tell us. And how are we to know that it's three French Foreign Legion guys in Algeria? After all, Breitbart's editor had no problem using a photo of an L.A. school in the article about Sidwell Friends School in D.C.

It's garbage like this that makes me happy that I have remained an independent blogger and never sold my soul or journalistic integrity to the wannabe amateurs at Breitbart. Mind you, this is nothing against the late Andrew Breitbart. Rather, it's an indictment of the laziness of the editors and writers in that organization.

Yah, I am a conservative, but it pisses me off when my fellow conservatives act in such stupid ways that so brazenly violate the most basic rules of journalism - not to mention respect for copyrights. The folks running the Breitbart websites have been playing fast and loose with facts violating copyrights for a long time, but this is the first incident that I have taken the time to document. But it explains why I so rarely link to stories at the Breitbart sites. The vast majority of their contributors, after all, have no training or professional background in journalism. Sadly, it shows all too often. Sadder still, many conservative bloggers are happy to stick their faces into the trough and lap it up without question.