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Elizabeth Vargas Fake Breast Feeding Photo Update

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A few days ago I wrote about how Marie Claire magazine published a fake photo of ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas breast feeding. I’ve now had a chance to review the article, and here’s my take.
The piece is nothing earth shattering. It’s a Q &A about Vargas’ career and family. What do we learn? That she’s not exactly like the rest of us– she has a cook, an immaculate apartment and she’s married to the singer Marc Cohn. Not to mention she is one of THE stars of ABC news. (You may remember she and Bob Woodruff were supposed to be the future of ABC’s evening news. They were named co-anchors after Peter Jennings died. Then Woodruff got seriously injured in Iraq and Vargas got pregnant. So now she’s back at 20/20 and Charlie Gibson has the anchor job). But in other ways she is like the rest of us. She has to figure out how to balance work and family. When she was anchoring the evening news, her son wouldn’t go to sleep until she got home.
As for that photo…from my perspective, there is no reason your average reader would think it was a fake. The story byline says “By Judith Newman, Photo Illustration by Eric Cahan.” Does that mean anything to any of you? Certainly not to me. I just don’t get what Marie Claire was thinking. Didn’t it occur to them that most people wouldn’t get the distinction, and that ultimately, someone (Drudge) would point out the liberties they took?
The Boston Herald ran a story on this today. There was an additional comment from Marie Claire:
“We wanted an arresting, satirical image to make the reader stop and read this important story about what happens when job and family collide. This is an image illustration and is stated so with the byline of this story.”
Wouldn’t a real photo have made the case just as strongly?
Oh, and by the way, the photo at the top of this entry is from The Boston Herald. Just wouldn’t want anyone to be confused.



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