Reading the Hillary Clinton Benghazi Testimony Photos
by Michael Shaw
After the House Benghazi hearing, the media, especially buzz media, was swimming in a river of gotcha shots and a thousand Hillary faces (1, 2, 3). Stepping off the path, I had some thoughts on the interesting and slightly less trafficked photos from Getty Image’s Alex Wong and Chip Somodevilla.
Sure, the Dems were running interference (Cummings and Adam Schiff). The photo also frames the atilt Chairman Gowdy as marginal, operating behind-the-back.
Stature-wise, paintings of historic members in the House hearing room provide their own counterpoint. The red light is editorial, too.
Reverse stampede. The law on her side.
Combining Congresspeople, press and the public in a photo swarm, the picture is surprisingly warm, intimate and empathetic (in this typically hyper-formal and protocol-choked chamber), while the right quarter also has a nice gender vibe to it. Credit the House Republicans for personalizing Clinton far more than she’s been able to do on her own.
Again, the hearing lent Clinton an intimacy that is highly rare. Great camerawork by Getty’s Chip Somodevilla, the photo also does something quite notable. Given the strength of the expression — Clinton making well-deserved light of the circus — the photo also defies the unspoken tendency to judge the aging Hillary for her wrinkles.
One of the more effective photos I’ve seen illustrating the futility in Congress. Juxtaposed with the burnished wood and the stars, Getty’s Somodevilla drives it home by rendering the utter stasis in Congress geometrically.
I don’t think Getty would have offered us such a blatant example if the media wasn’t so thoroughly obsessed (of course, the day after the hearing, but also, in general) with Clinton’s face. It’s a wonderful illustration, also, of how much politicians are also actors and politics is such a show.
So widely published, this and the torn paper shot are going down in the annuls for DC overreach/grandstanding. And yes, the enormous waste of paper.
Another powerfully gendered photo, the sideways, hard-angled Gowdy looks askance as compared to the soft receptivity of Clinton’s former right-hand, Huma Abedin. If the photo is terrifically partial, it’s also terrifically effective playing on the nature of a bully boy when he has to look someone, or more specifically, some woman in the eye.
Yes, it was taken before the ultra-marathon started, but the photo, also ringed in women as it is and stressing “the honorable” (maybe ironically, given the focus), reads, the-next-day, like survival, relief, even a last laugh.