GOOD

Republican Senate Nominee Uses Picture of Mexicans—in Mexico—to Scare Us About Illegal Immigrants

Sharron Angle, the Republican opponent of Senator Harry Reid in Nevada, just grabbed any old scary picture of Mexican guys for her TV ad.


This is a political ad from Sharron Angle, the Republican opponent of Senator Harry Reid in Nevada. It accuses him of accommodating and coddling illegal immigrants.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsVmzyDIyKs


The only problem: Those especially tough-looking "illegal immigrants" at 0:20? They're actually Mexicans photographed in a town square in Altar, Mexico. There's no evidence they ever came to America, legally or otherwise.

The photograph was taken by Chris Floyd for a GQ story on the Minutemen.


Floyd isn't too happy about his photo being used this way.

At this early stage the legal and usage issues are still too uncertain because the facts on how the photo was acquired are not yet known. My feelings on how the picture has been used, however, are quite clear. Fundamentally, a portrait of three Mexican men taken in Mexico, admittedly in the midst of a story about the Arizona Minutemen and their role in the illegal alien issue has been ripped away from the context of that story and used to portray the men in it as almost satanic modern day reds under the bed.

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Getty images is investigating the issue, because it's unclear whether the image was used legally.

But legal issues aside, is it wrong or misleading to pass off a picture of three Mexican men, in Mexico, as an example of "illegal aliens"? To be fair to Angle, no reasonable viewer would think the video clip of "illegal aliens" sneaking by a fence at 0:05 is documentary footage of real Mexicans crossing the border. We're all pretty certain they're actors, right?

On the other hand, maybe political ads shouldn't be able to present caricatures like this at all, in video or stills. Maybe the rule should be, if you're going to try to scare voters into thinking illegal immigrants are a real threat you have to find a real picture.

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