Philosopher David Hume once explained, “There is a universal tendency among mankind to conceive all beings like themselves, and to transfer to every object, those qualities, with which they are familiarly acquainted, and of which they are intimately conscious. We find human faces in the moon, armies in the clouds; and by a natural propensity, if not corrected by experience and reflection, ascribe malice or good-will to every thing, that hurts or pleases us.”
With the above photo, Salon’s Steve Kornacki thought he saw Mitt Romney getting his shoes shined on the tarmac when in fact, it was a TSA screening, as NPR’s Frank James pointed out. During MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, Kornacki was caught up in pareidolia, and wildly described this invented narrative of what the photo represented.
“There’s a picture that’s making the rounds today — the shoe shine on the tarmac,” Kornacki explained. “I don’t know if you saw this one. I don’t know where this came from… He’s sitting in front of an airplane. I think it might be a corporate jet, and he’s wearing a suit and he’s getting a shoe shine. He’s got a big smile on his face.”
“He’s not shining his own shoes?” Maddow asked.
“No,” Kornacki replied, “He’s getting a shoe shine! We put this on Salon earlier today. I’m not sure where it originated. But it never looks good for a politician to be getting a shoe shine, you know, on a tarmac but it looks terrible when it’s Mitt Romney and this is your image and background. It looks worse when it’s the year 2012 and the economy is in such a bad place, and the Democrats are going to be going after your party for being the one that sort of favors the people who get shoe shines on tarmacs!” he added.
Much to Maddow’s credit, several minutes later, she corrected the record, that this, in fact, was not a shoe shine — but in reality, Romney being wanded by TSA, as James points out:
The Getty news photo is meant to symbolize Romney’s life of privilege as he receives one of the perquisites of the wealthy which apparently include tarmac shoe shines.
There’s only one problem: Romney isn’t actually getting a shoe shine but being wanded for security purposes before boarding a charter flight.
The photo was so “damning” that it made its way into the new, anti-Romney movie “When Mitt Romney Came To Town” which was purchased by a pro-Newt Gingrich superPAC.
It would seem that after you had made such a glaring error on national television, you would apologize and say, ‘whoops, sorry Governor Romney for the mistake.’
No! In fact, Kornacki doubles down on Twitter!
And, today, while acknowledging the inaccuracy of the photo, Salon continued to slam Romney over it:
“Would a photograph like this — which is actually a TSA security screening but looks like a shoe-shine at first glance — be troublesome for a candidate without Romney’s money and business background?”
As the proverb goes: you are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.
Watch Kornacki’s original erroneous report on MSNBC:
…and watch Maddow’s correction, which she made shortly thereafter:
UPDATE: Kornacki tells Mediaite that his mention of the photo wasn’t meant to be malicious: “I had seen the picture on my way to the studio,” he explains, “and it popped into my head while we were doing the segment.”
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