Photographer Jill Greenberg Won’t Be Working For the Atlantic Again Any Time Soon

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


mojo-photo-monstermccain.jpgJill Greenberg’s portrait of John McCain for the October cover of the Atlantic (see below) is either a bit gnarly or respectably granitic, depending on your perspective: all of McCain’s “experience” is etched in the deep, harshly-lit lines on his face. But in case you were wondering what Greenberg’s perspective is, she’s made things abundantly clear on her web site, the aptly-named Manipulator, taking some of the more unflattering (and sneakily-executed) pictures from the shoot, adding some grody Photoshoppery, and posting the results. As Boing Boing points out, the elaborate Flash-filled site means one can’t link directly to the pictures, but you can see one to the right, and Gawker has a couple more posted.

The Atlantic, unsurprisingly, isn’t happy, with editor James Bennet issuing a statement that Greenberg has “disgraced herself” and that they are “appalled” by the images. The accompanying piece’s author, Jeffrey Goldberg, released a statement saying that Greenberg’s “‘art’ is juvenile, and on occasion repulsive… she betrayed this magazine and disgraced her profession.”

Certain bloggers are quick to jump on these portraits as a symbol of an immoral Left: Shannon Love’s post on Chicago Boyz is the most unintentionally hilarious, decrying liberals for believing that “the enormous benefits of their enlightened rule outweigh any consequences of the dishonest acts that bring about that rule.” Dishonest acts, you say? Sure, these are crappy Photoshop jobs, and I’m not sure exactly what the point is or the actual outcome will be: in today’s chaotic political world, attacks beget sympathetic reactions beget opposing backlash beget underdog resurgence. But, jeez, if you were doing the McCain photo shoot, wouldn’t you play a little joke, if you could get away with it?

mojo-photo-mccaincover.jpg

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest