I just ran across this post from 2008 at Neo-neocon, a thoughtful blog by a thoughtful woman, but one I often forget to visit*. "Fake news" isn't new, but neither is manipulative reporting.
The man being shot was alleged to have been “a Captain in a Viet Cong assassination and revenge platoon responsible for the killing of South Vietnamese policemen and their families.” He had just been captured—wearing civilian clothing—after killing a South Vietnamese officer and his entire family [Wikipedia says he slit their throats - ED] , an officer who had served under the South Vietnamese general wielding the pistol in the photo.
Eddie Adams, the AP photographer who took it, later made this statement about it:
I won a Pulitzer Prize in 1969 for a photograph of one man shooting another…The general killed the Viet Cong; I killed the general with my camera. Still photographs are the most powerful weapon in the world. People believe them, but photographs do lie, even without manipulation. They are only half-truths. What the photograph didn’t say was, “What would you do if you were the general at that time and place on that hot day, and you caught the so-called bad guy after he blew away one, two or three American soldiers?” General Loan was what you would call a real warrior, admired by his troops. I’m not saying what he did was right, but you have to put yourself in his position.
As Adams said, it’s not that what Loan did was right—although apparently, because of his civilian clothing, the Viet Cong had unlawful enemy combatant status and was subject to summary field execution under the South Vietnamese law of the time. It’s that the whole story, which would have enabled the Americans who saw it to put the photo into context and to have understood the circumstances surrounding General Loan’s act and to have evaluated it for themselves, had not been told—or had been so de-emphasized that most people didn’t catch it. What we saw instead was the brutal slaying of a small defenseless man, shorn of all history and looking like an innocent Vietnamese peasant.
* Probably because the author has an unfortunate tendency to (occasionally) drift into histrionics, like this. Still, a thought-provoking, interesting site:
... Then the strangest feeling came over me. I don’t even have a word for it, although I usually can come up with words for emotions.
This was a new feeling. The best description I can come up with is that it was a regret so intense it morphed seamlessly into guilt, as though I were responsible for something terrible, though I didn’t know exactly what. Regret and guilt, and also a rage that I’d been so stupid, that I’d let myself be duped or misled or kept ignorant about something so important, and that I’d remained ignorant all these years.
I sat in front of my computer and put my face down on the keyboard. I stayed in that position for a few minutes, energyless and drained. When I lifted my head I was surprised to find a few tears on my cheeks.
Oh well - she's a thinker, which I admire. Her take yesterday on Cate Blanchett's claiming to find her moral compass in her vagina is really good.