The White House public relations staff was busy last week. While President Obama was splashing about and savoring shaved ice during his Hawaiian vacation, the administration’s PR machine released a couple of official White House photos. The first showed a pensive president examining his shoelaces while ostensibly being told about the Newtown massacre.

The second photo shows Obama huddled with his assembled consiglieres to discuss the other massacre – the attack on Benghazi. However, this photo is raising questions.

As is now the norm, the “new media” are doing the work the “traditional” media is not: analyzing the photo against published facts, comparing previous “official” statements, researching and noting inconsistencies.

Inconsistencies like this one, which asks, “If the attack began at 3:30 p.m. (D.C. time), 9:30 p.m. (Benghazi) – then what was happening at 7:30 p.m. when this picture was taken? Obviously POTUS was not situationally aware. Was this the ‘first’ notification of the crisis? Yet it is a full four hours after the attack began.”

“It’s twilight outside, so this is close to sunset on September 11th,” the bloggers at The Conservative Tree House continue. “The vehicles are noted through the window and you can tell it is twilight. Sunset was 7:22 p.m., with end of civil twilight at 7:49 p.m. on Sept 11th, 2012. The metadata embed shows the picture was taken at 7:26 p.m.

“So this picture was taken four hours after the firefight started, and they are not in the ‘situation room,'” they continue. “We know the video & audio feed from the Benghazi faux-State Dept. consulate was live; So, simultaneous to this photograph it was 1:26 a.m. Benghazi Time. That is the exact time (1:30 a.m.) the rescue team of Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty arrived back in the CIA annex with the body of Sean Smith.”

There are lots more questions related to this photo, including if it actually depicts what the White House says it does.

“But can you fake a birth certificate?”

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi used the wizardry of Photoshop to include a few female Democratic members of Congress into a formal photograph, raising more than a few eyebrows and placing Madame Pelosi on the defensive.

All this prompted writer and graphic artist Oleg Atbashian, a Ukrainian émigré, to mock the image with one of his own.

The creator of the satirical website, accompanied the image with this bit of cloaked wisdom: “You see, photography is not meant to record history, but rather communicate the truths the party seeks to communicate to the people. The party must alter photographs and even documents in order to teach the people how to correctly think about history and present circumstances.”

Birds of a feather?

The headline at Politico reads: “Google dodges bullet as FTC closes probe.” How did that happen? With millions spent by Google on lobbying and two years on the case.

Google walked away with “a slap on the wrist” and “an agreement to restrict its use of smart phone patents and a voluntary change in how the most dominant search engine on the web behaves and handles advertisements.”

More details here.

Meanwhile, Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt, who recently turned down an opportunity to run the U.S. Treasury or some other cabinet post of his choosing, will be visiting the North Koreans as early as this month. Reports indicate the trip would be a first by a top Google exec to a country with an iron grip on Internet accessibility.

The North Koreans are looking to revolutionize their science and technology capability. It remains to be seen if Schmidt will attempt to convince the regime to allow its people access to the rest of the world through cyber connectivity.

Storm watchers

Google ran its Street View camera cars through Hurricane Sandy ravaged neighborhoods, which might be a boon to homeowners fighting with insurance companies.

A Google spokesman said, “We hope this accurate, updated imagery that will soon be available in Google Maps will help people around the world better understand the extent of the damage and the importance of coming together as a community to aid in the recovery efforts.”

In other Google news, a new web app uses its Street View to show where Instagram photos are taken.

Conversely, a different smart phone app that shares photos that self-destruct is the latest obsession of teens and senders of “naughty” pics. Snapchat has fended off a challenge from Facebook’s “Poke” and has been in the App Store’s Top Ten for a few months.

“The free app’s disposable photos mark it out against rivals such as Instagram, one of last year’s most-hyped apps. The sender sets a time limit after photos are viewed of 10 seconds or less, after which the image is deleted,” reports CNBC.

“Pay for content?”

The BEASTly Andrew Sullivan, leftwing columnist, is about to find out if people will. Sullivan announced he’s leaving BEAST to start a subscription site of his own at a cost of $19.99 a year. Sullivan wrote, “To be honest, we didn’t know where to set the price – we have almost no precedents for where we want to go – but $19.99 seemed the lowest compatible with a serious venture.”

The new endeavor goes live February 1.


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