Howard KurtzI was watching Howard Kurtz on CNN this morning, and he weighed in on the controversy (which I hadn’t even heard about) regarding Sports Illustrated retouching out a tattoo on Danica Patrick’s back.

Kurtz’ view is that retouching is wrong because this is supposed to be journalism. No, I don’t think he was joking. Here’s the transcript:

By the way, Sports Illustrated also did something this week. It airbrushed a photo of racecar driver Danica Patrick to remove a tattoo that she had on her back. SI thinks this is just fine. I don’t. This is a journalistic magazine.

Come on, guys. Keep it real.

This was a picture of Danica Patrick, the race car driver, in a bikini. Is that what she wears when she’s racing? And was the picture for a serious journalistic piece about her career, which could have included some discussion of the fact that, in addition to racing cars, she’s viewed as a sex symbol? Plenty of sports figures pose for posters, calendars and such that are about subjects other than the human drama of athletic competition. Often they’re about the human drama of being hot. Would Kurtz have a problem with those pictures getting the Photoshop treatment?

The picture was not for a serious article on Patrick’s career, by the way. It was for SI’s annual swimsuit edition, the purpose of which isn’t exactly serious journalism about sport. Go ahead and click through on that link if you want to see the purpose of the magazine. You’ll probably see the same pop-up ad I saw for Planter’s Big Nut Bar, with the tagline “Make It Big.” Message received.

This is not sports journalism. It’s part fashion (selling the swimsuits), but for the most part, it’s cheesecake — pin-ups.

And fashion and glamour model pictures are retouched all the time. Hell, I’ve got a friend who works both as a fashion model and a photo retoucher. There she is below, working her photoshoppery magic.


Keep it real, Howie.

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