BBC Accused of Photoshopping Jeremy Corbyn's Hat to Look More 'Russian'

The BBC is at the center of a controversy in the UK after its news program Newsnight was accused of Photoshopping politician Jeremy Corbyn‘s hat in a photo to make the opposition leader look more “Russian.”

During a discussion about escalating tensions with Russian that aired last Thursday, the BBC Two program displayed a background image showing the Kremlin and a stylized photo of Corbyn.

Critics were quick to point out that Corbyn looked like he was wearing a Soviet-style hat in graphic, and a comparison with the original photo showed that the hat seems to be noticeably different (including in its shape). Here’s a comparison that has been circulating:

Redditor LeftWingScot made a GIF that compares the two images above:

When left-wing writer Owen Jones appeared on Newsnight the following day, he criticized the BBC for the edited photo, saying: “What sort of country do we live in where the media constantly tries to portray the leader of the opposition, who was the only one who stood up in solidarity with Russia’s opposition… as an agent of foreign powers?”

"What sort of country do we live in where the media constantly tries to portray the leader of the opposition, who was the only one who stood up in solidarity with Russia's opposition… as an agent of foreign powers?" @OwenJones84 asks #newsnightpic.twitter.com/eB4qKPaxa6

— BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight) March 16, 2018

“The media framing has been a disgrace and I have to say that includes your own program,” Jones said during his appearance. Yesterday the background of your program you had Jeremy Corbyn dressed up against the Kremlin skyline, dressed up as a Soviet stooge.

“You even photoshopped his hat to look more Russian. People should complain to the BBC about that kind of thing.”

May not be getting a @BBCNewsnight invite ever again, but the way they stitched up the Opposition leader to portray him as the stooge of a foreign power is, ironically, the sort of thing you expect on Russian state TV, and they must apologise in full and unreservedly.

— Owen Jones🌹 (@OwenJones84) March 17, 2018

BBC journalist John Sweeney was also questioned about the photo by Alex Salmond on Salmond’s show yesterday.

“Let’s try to work out if the BBC did or did not photoshop the Jeremy Corbyn image,” Salmond says.

“No it didn’t, no it didn’t,” replies Sweeney.

“I’m looking at this image, there’s no doubt that in the picture of Jeremy Corbyn of a perfectly respectable hat with a peak, seems to have been transformed into red picture of Jeremy Corbyn against the Kremlin and the peak of the hat seems to have disappeared,” Salmond says.

Sweeney continues to defend the photo, saying: “It wasn’t Photoshopped.”

BBC acting editor Jess Brammar also denied that the photo had been materially altered this weekend through a series of Tweets.

Ok, it’s Saturday & I’m in the hairdresser but my phone is having a meltdown so I’m going to address this – I’ve been staying out of it because I haven’t been in the office since thurs afternoon, but here we go…Newsnight didn’t photoshop a hat. https://t.co/gypnmFCD6X

— Jess Brammar (@jessbrammar) March 17, 2018

Our (excellent,hardworking) graphics team explained the image has had the contrast increased & been colour treated, usual treatment for screen graphics as they need more contrast to work through the screens. If you look you can see it’s same hat in silhouette

— Jess Brammar (@jessbrammar) March 17, 2018

apparently (forgive me for passing on tech details I don’t understand firsthand) some detail might also have been lost with it going through the screen and then being filmed back through a camera, again the standard effect on images on that big back panel

— Jess Brammar (@jessbrammar) March 17, 2018

And finally, the Russia background was a rehash of one Newsnight used a few weeks ago, for a story about Gavin Williamson, the Defence Secretary pic.twitter.com/0MaoKiiJrz

— Jess Brammar (@jessbrammar) March 17, 2018

Brammar touches on one fact that doesn’t seem to be receiving too much attention: the fact that the controversial photo is being displayed on a large, curved screen, which introduces distortions.

The BBC actually shared the same edited photo of Corbyn in a Tweet published hours before the program aired:

And when you compare the source photo to this static image, the hat no longer looks like it was stretched vertically (though the change in contrast, which makes the shadow look like part of the hat, is still there):

So if the teaser graphic posted by the BBC is indeed the exact same graphic that ran in the background of the program, then it seems that the curved screen may actually be responsible for stretching the hat out.

But Jones isn’t satisfied with Brammar’s explanation.

Hi Jess, firstly lots of respect for you. The photo of Williamson is in a suit and his photo remains clear. There is no shortage of photos of Corbyn in a suit. A photo was selected which was as Leninesque as possible in combination with a red Kremlin background.

— Owen Jones🌹 (@OwenJones84) March 17, 2018

“The photo of Williamson is in a suit and his photo remains clear,” Jones writes. “There is no shortage of photos of Corbyn in a suit. A photo was selected which was as Leninesque as possible in combination with a red Kremlin background.”

https://petapixel.com/2018/03/19/bbc-accused-of-photoshopping-jeremy-corbyns-hat-to-look-more-russian/?mc_cid=e0e3e762a2&mc_eid=37b806db54