Skip to main content


A more thorough account of this story is in today's recommended list.  The  writer is Troutnut.

. . . continued at the bottom of the story.

I generally attempt to avoid conspiratorial conclusions, but I have just watched a Hillary Clinton campaign commercial that raises a few troubling questions.

It seems the issue de jure for the Clinton campaign is now national security.  The whole 3 a.m. bit.  Towards that end, the Clinton campaign has a new commercial up today that attacks Barack Obama for not holding hearings regarding Afghanistan for the Senate subcommittee that he has chaired since the start of 2007.

So far, fair enough I would say.  The commercial shows a clip of Sen. Obama answering a question about the matter during the debate in Cleveland on Thursday.  This is where the trouble begins.

First, I will allow all of you to look at both the debate clip and the campaign commercial.  Sen. Obama's response to the question at the debate comes at about the 4:40 mark.  Watch them both and see if anything seems a bit askew.

Youtube Debate Clip

Clinton Campaign Commercial

Call me crazy, but it certainly appears to me that Sen. Obama's skin tone is significantly darker in the Clinton campaign commercial.  Watch it again and see if you agree.

Now, as most of us know, one of the ways in which to demonize a person of color is to make them appear darker than they are.  By this twisted logic, somehow being more black makes you more threatening.  

One of the first times I distinctly recall this issue being brought to the forefront was the Time Magazine cover picture of O.J. Simpson after his arrest.  Time was heavily criticized for darkening the shade of Simpson's skin in the cover photograph.

Whether intentional or not, the message was that a darker skinned Mr. Simpson somehow was more threatening or frightening than a lighter skinned Juice.  

Notwithstanding the ridiculousness of this notion, it attempts to exploit stereotypes concerning race--specifically, to dredge up fear of black men.

IF the Clinton campaign has deliberately doctored the footage of Sen. Obama to exploit racist fears, she should be banished from  American political life--along with anyone else involved.

I would like a few opinions on this.  Am I over-reacting?  Are there plausible explanations for the difference?  Is this an issue that should be investigated further?

Let me know what you think.  

UPDATE:A few of the comments have properly pointed out that the entire Clinton commercial is in darker tones.  It has also been pointed out that darker tones are often used to subtlety demonize political opponents.

Both of those points are well-taken.  However, is there or should there be a double standard when one of the candidates is a person of color--i.e., is it OK for a white politician to darken or distort the image of another white politician in a commercial, but not a black candidate?

If the answer to the previous question is yes, why?

Also, why is it EVER OK to distort an image of a political opponent?

And why do we accept that to make them look worse we darken them?

I appreciate your comments on the matter.  

UPDATE#2 Continued:

First, I have linked where I came across the Clinton campaign commercial.  The commercial was included in a WaPo story by Chris Cillizza.  The story was posted on the Washington Post's website at 9:08 a.m. yesterday.  I watched the campaign commercial and though it looked a bit odd.  My diary was posted by noon yesterday.

I immediately went and viewed a few different versions of the included clips on Youtube.  Sen. Obama's complexion seemed obviously altered and darker in the Clinton clip.  I posted both links for views to look at them and form their own opinions.

My original thought was why do we accept distortion of images in campaign commercials in a way that we never would with, say, words.  If a campaign was caught editing sound to make another candidate say something they did not say, everyone would probably be rightly disgusted.  It's unacceptable.

However, it's somehow become acceptable and common practice to visually distort images to make them something they are not.  Why?

Originally posted to jthomascronin on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 11:29 AM PST.


Is the difference in skin tone . . .

13%230 votes
7%132 votes
13%229 votes
20%349 votes
44%766 votes

| 1706 votes | Vote | Results

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  If you look (0+ / 0-)

    The whole ad is very dark. I'm thinking they just darkened the clip of Obama so that it would fit the tone of the ad.

    "How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.
    "You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here."

    by eColt on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 11:32:36 AM PST

  •  Well... (0+ / 0-)

    I don't think that they made look darker.

    But that doesn't make that commercial any less ridiculous.

  •  I originally thought it was a saturation problem (0+ / 0-)

    but the Clinton ad still has the same saturation problems as the debate, it just has darker gamma correction.

    It may be just to make the ad seem more grave and sinister and have nothing to do with race.  Maybe.

  •  % (0+ / 0-)

    "[G]lobalization is...increasing the efficiency of resource allocation through stronger capital markets" - Barack Obama

    by burrow owl on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 11:36:39 AM PST

  •  Whatever you think... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    they are doing, you are probably right.  This is the "kitchen sink Hillary" and we know how badly she wants to win...badly enough to do just about anything.

    "We're all working for the Pharaoh" - Richard Thompson

    by mayan on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 11:37:46 AM PST

  •  Well (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I have to take her word for it that she is not race baiting . . . ..

    •  As far as I know, the scary ad, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wee Mama

      featuring a scary dark man who cannot protect our children, is shot using dark tones just to illustrate that fear is dark and scary, not that Barack Obama is dark and scary.  As far as I know.

      •  Good Point (0+ / 0-)

        But the larger point that I guess I wanted to address is the notion that fear is dark.

        And, since it is a common tactic of campaigns [not just the Clinton campaign] to make you scared of the other candidate, is there a difference when then distortion plays to racial stereotypes.

        For example--we accept that with two white candidates running, one might darken the image of the other to make them appear more ominous.  But, do we accept the same notion if one candidate is non-white?

        Should it matter?

  •  Clinton's "racism" (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ritter, Marc in KS, flagpole, arodb, channiga

    You say "call me crazy...".  I won't go that far, but paranoid certainly comes to mind.  The whole ad is dark.  Clinton herself looks darker than usual.  Please. Vote for your guy.  Support your guy.  Bubble over with enthusiasm for your guy.  But, stop demonizing Clinton. Save the vitriol and "fight to the death" mentality for the General Election, when we will be  threatened with real disaster, whoever our nominee is.

  •  Its pretty common (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It is a pretty common tactic used in attack adds.  Any clip of an opponent is darkened, desaturated to a degree, and tinted a cool (blue) hue.  It is something that the republicans have used with extreme frequency in the last few years (mostly because they have used a much higher ratio of attack adds)This is the same way many horor movies are shot.  
    I agree in this situation, that in this case it has the added effect of making Obama look Black, and not his natural skin tone of light brown.  There have been many things that the Clinton campaign have done this year that have been discusting, but on a scale of one to ten (for them) darkening Obamas skin would be a 2.  If he wins, it won't be because he is a light skinned black person, and not dark skinned.  To a real racist, a tan is unforgivable.  To someone who is considering voting for Obama already, skin shade is not likely a driving factor.  

  •  The difference is really quite striking. All it (0+ / 0-)

    takes is a tab browser where you can easily switch between them. The most nearly innocent explanation above of trying to make him look generically scary (as opposed to specifically a scary black man) is still pretty pathetic.

  •  "Politic ain't Beanbag"..... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Every edit, every angle, every word is designed to cast aspersion on the opposition in every way, conscious and subliminal.

    When it is being done BY our candidate, we call it skillful campaigning

    When it is being done TO our candidate, we call it reprehensible.

    So what else is new.

  •  darkness at noon (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    When I read about the Soviet purges, I was always puzzled how people who were idolized only a few years before could be turned into demonic figures in the eyes of the once worhsipful public, seemingly overnight. One moment Trotsky was the savior of the Revolution, the next the people had no problem believing that he was an American spy who had been working against them from day one. This phenomenon is also explored in Animal Farm.

    But now I can watch it unfold here and this is one of the reasons I enjoy coming to DKos. Democratic activists, who in the 90s probably would have been very upset by attacks on Hillary and the assumption that the Right tried to push that anything done by the Clintons was done for nefarious reasons and "you can expect anything from them to stay in power," now regularly make the same comments, as in the above thread, that, well, there's no evidence of any wrongdoing in this case, but this is the Clintons after all, you have to assume the worst, they have always been enemies of the Revolution.

    When the campaign kicked off, people were ready to defend Hillary from attacks, and now are ready to believe any attack against her. Can it really be explained as a result of her campaign's missteps? This seems to go deeper, it's a disdain for her very being. I think this kind of group shift has more to do with communal patterns of popular thinking and less to do with any actual actions by Hillary, although she should have been much better prepared for it than she was, given how the same thing happened during the Clinton presidency among the general population.  

    A pessimist is just a well-informed optimist.

    by Marcion on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 12:02:54 PM PST

    •  Good Comment (0+ / 0-)

      You may have a point concerning the sea-change from stalwart defender to aggressive prosecutor.

      However, I think the update questions fairly reflect my thinking on the matter.

      Is it OK to alter images of your political opponents?  If it is, intentional or not, then why is it OK?  Would we allow a candidate to splice together their opponent's words to make them say something they didn't?

      Second, is it OK to alter the image if the two candidates are white but not if one is black?  If yes, is this an unfair double standard?  Or, should you be especially cognizant of the distortions if they play towards racial/gender/sexual [amongst others] stereotypes?

      Regardless of intent, I do think it begs the question of whether it is permissible for the Clinton campaign to make Obama "look bad" in this fashion.

      As far as evidence, I'm simply looking at two videos of the same thing that look significantly different and asking why.

    •  Those who are hurt deepest (0+ / 0-)

      May be the last to change, but will be the strongest critics in the end.   I think a lot of us are only beginning to see how bad the Clintons really have been for the Democratic party and any progressive ideas.  
      The constant triangulation and living by poll numbers and attempting to keep just a 50.1% majority with microtargeting.  

      Looking back now, it is really easy to see just how anti-woman Clinton really is.   How she helped demonize woman like Monica and Paula even though it was Bill that was making the mistakes.   She had to help destroy their characters.

      This is what I can not live with for 4 more years.  

      But I do matter, I really do

      by smoosh21 on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 12:02:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I have to agree that he looks darker, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Donna in Rome, teyigdhk

    and since the Clinton campaign will say or do anything so Hillary can win I have no doubt that this is intentional.  

    I also agree with some other comments that the whole ad is darker, look at his suit coat. But we all know this could all be corrected in production.  It was not corrected and, therefore, it is intentional.  

    This leads to "plausible deniability" so the Obama camp will have to stay away from this issue or they will be accused of raising the race issue in desperation.  

    How convenient for Mark Penn, if he can get both Hillary and John MCain into the GE then both of his firms make money. Mark Penn with Burson-Marsteller and Charles Black on the McCain team at his subsidiary, BKSH.

  •  Our government has been stolen (0+ / 0-)

    The apparatus has been put in place to allow Hillary Clinton to receive the Democratic nomination whether or not she wins the majority of pledged delegates.

    The Clinton's had to get close enough in delegates to make this work for them.  The only way to do that was to smear Obama.  They didn't want to do that because it will hurt them in the general, but they always do what they have to do to win.

    Right now the Clintons are calling in all the favors they've accrued over the years.  That's what experience in Washington does for you.

    Hillary will be the Democratic nominee either now or in 2012.  They have nothing to lose at this point.

    Hill and Bill can smear the hell out of Obama and if it sticks enough to win the nomination this year, great.  If not, they will have wounded him enough that Obama will lose to McCain and Hillary can live to fight again in 2012.  There won't be repercussions for what they did to Barack because they will be able to blame all the negative stuff on McCain.

    It's feeling more and more like a viable third party is the only way out of this mess.  

    •  sounds like you read my diary last night (0+ / 0-)

      The Democrats in 2008 are fighting over the soul of their Party, and so far the pro-soul side is losing.

      by Zacapoet on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 12:34:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  no 2012 (0+ / 0-)

      If she poisons the water this much, we need to kill off any chance of her trying to come back in 2012.   Harry Reid needs to start stripping her of any power she has in the Senate.  What can she do, switch parties?   As if the GOP would take her.

      But I do matter, I really do

      by smoosh21 on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 11:48:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Race Man (0+ / 0-)

    Honestly, I think that the whole premise for this discussion is ridiculous.  The Clinton's have and never will have any racist bone in their body.  In fact they have fought for many years trying to beat the racist tone that still plagues much of this country.  I think it is sad that the tactics used by the Obama campaign and the media to paint them as racist have actually stuck in the public mind.  When voting tomorrow, vote for whoever has your interests and the best plan to make those policies happen.  This article from the New Republic pretty much articulates my point about the Obama campaign and their race baiting.  Please read because it's very enlightening.  

    •  Sorry you are wrong (0+ / 0-)

      She and Bill have done everything but call Obama "boy" in this election.   If you spent any time talking with African Americans, especially those under 40, there is no love anymore for the Clintons.

      The younger generation is through with putting up with bigoted and condescending attitudes that the Clintons have, that only the Great White Saviours can help the Black community.   This is why her support evaporated so quickly after SC.  Her attitude may not have been racist for the early 70s, but I think it shows just how old and out of touch that they have become.

      But I do matter, I really do

      by smoosh21 on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 11:57:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  National Review (0+ / 0-)

      The NR has absolutely 0 credibility with me.

      Clinton's reference to Jessie Jackson winning S. Carolina was so obviously a racially charged statement.    

      The question is not whether or not THEY are raciest - I think you are probably right that they are not.  However that doesn't mean they are not willing to use race to get ahead.  I think it is pretty obvious that is what they are doing.

  •  I think I just HEARD (0+ / 0-)

    the IQ level of DailyKos dropping by several points.

  •  The real race baiting is the suggestion is this! (0+ / 0-)

    The real race baiting, is the consipiracy to characterize an innocent video editing result which happens all the time as race-baiting just to slam Clinton.

    Obama's 3AM Ad is much darker the Clinton's despite using the same footage. Where was the race-baiting cry then?

    Do Obama's supporters on this board believe a darker skin Obama will be less appealing that a lighter skin one? If not why do they even care if he appears darker in one video than another? You see, the very people shouting foul are the ones doing race-baiting. They are the ones who believe dark-skin people are less appealing not Clinton!

    These same people who are crying foul also believe only blacks use drugs. Otherwise they would not think mentioning the fact that Obama used drugs is a racist thing.

    It's called projection. Ironically, it shows that the same people crying foul are projecting their own racism onto Clinton.

    Shame on you all!

    •  Nice Try . . . (0+ / 0-)

      but it's the same argument that attempts to turn the debate over the "dressed" photo from:

      What message is the campaign attempting to convey by putting this out
          . . . TO . . .
      Why would anyone think it's wrong to show candidate A in this fashion?  I think it's fine.  Do they think there is something wrong with it?

      You see, it's not the race-baiting that's the problem, it's the people that are calling attention to the race-baiting.  

      That's your argument.

      Recognizing that a particular trick has been consistently used in a particular fashion does not make me responsible for the trick.

      However, silently abiding these types of tactics makes you complicit in them.

  •  Is the point that a "whiter" Obama is more (0+ / 0-)


    I wonder if he knows he's black.  Sure was a surprise to me and thanks for pointing it out here.

    The real issue is that Mrs Clinton's "expertise" and "experience" in foreign affairs have not led her to vote in a way that gives me confidence that when she picks up the phone, she'll be trying to avoid conflict.

    Bill shot up a milk factory in Sudan.

    I'd rather have a President who asks "Are there missiles coming my way?  No, ok, I'll have to think about taking action."

    If you want to vote for somebody with whom you are in perfect agreement, be prepared to put your name on the ballot : Tom Schaller

    by captainlaser on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 05:20:58 PM PST

  •  I think it's pretty obvious (0+ / 0-)

    Funny how this came out a day after the controversy over Rush Limbaugh's laughter after one of his callers compared Obama with Curious George ... a monkey.

    The point is this: The alteration was SUPPOSE to be subliminal. Our conscious mind was not suppose to notice Obama's darken skin. But our ~sub~conscious mind was suppose to be stirred with the racial fear that Obama wasn't the friendly light skinned negro that lives down the street, but the dark angry nigger that prowls the inner city. It's 3 in the morning and the subconscious mind is deeply disturbed. Obama isn't answering the red phone, he in the next room raping your little girls in bed.
    Think this is crazy and I'm carrying this too far? Maybe someone on the forum can do a better job at explaining the science behind subliminals.
    This was well thought out
    THANKS for the catch!

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site