Image: Original and altered photos of a BP command center
Marc Morrison  /  BP
Above is an altered image of BP's Houston command center, and below is the photo that BP released after the alteration was uncovered by a blogger, who spotted it due to poor Photoshop handiwork.
By Wilson Rothman
updated 7/20/2010 7:05:44 PM ET 2010-07-20T23:05:44

It's been a long season of embarrassment for BP, but leaking oil isn't what the blogosphere is ripping the company for today. A site called Americablog spotted a press photo of BP's Houston command center, ostensibly taken on July 16. The image had quite visibly been Photoshopped — badly — to include more on-screen camera action.

Once word got out — the story was picked up by the Washington Post, where it was then spotted by the tech blog Gizmodo and others — BP 'fessed up. A spokesman admitted that the image was altered, said that a photographer had inserted shots where the TV screens were blank, and provided the original image.

"We've instructed our post-production team to refrain from doing this in the future," said the spokesman in an e-mail to the Washington Post.

Though the command center alteration doesn't seem to be an attempt to hide facts or confuse the public, it heightens skepticism for the company at a time when it should be trying to build trust. As the Americablog reporter John Aravosis wrote, "I guess if you're doing fake crisis response, you might as well fake a photo of the crisis response center."

As it happens, the command center shot isn't the end of the issue. Today, Aravosis published evidence of another altered press photo, this one depicting a meeting from the failed "top kill" maneuver. "How many other crisis response photos from BP have been faked?" wrote Aravosis. "Did they fake any videos?"

Please don't tell us that the people in those sucking-it-up-and-taking-responsibilty ads are actually paid models!

Catch up with Wilson on Twitter at @wjrothman. Fourth-grade Photoshop skills required.

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Video: BP criticized for photo editing

  1. Closed captioning of: BP criticized for photo editing

    >>> facing more scrutiny today as a blogger noticed recent photo manipulation by them. take a look at this photo in bp 's command centers in houston. see the blank screens ? there weren't video feeds on every monitor. now look at the edited photo of the command center that bp posted on the website. p presto. change. why even bother editing the photo? all bp is saying is it won't happening again, but if bp executives are wondering why they question what they say, they can just look at their own website for the answer. bp has now posted the original unedited photo.

    >>> last week marco rubio released a web ad against our colleague rachel maddow . here's a taste of it. well, last night rachel issued a rebuttal. take a look.

    >> well, as my hero winston churchill says, i like a man who grin when he fights. dare i update. you i like a man or woman who grins when they fight. you may heard of bieber fever across the country this morning. according to my pal, bieber has a striking resemblance to a "hardball" guest up last night.

    >> time for a thing we call too old for bieber hair. this one features political analyst charlie cook . let's take a look. too young for bieber hair!

    >> he doesn't connect with people


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