Since getting this tip earlier I've tried to to examine this objectively from every possible angle, but frankly there is no other conclusion that can be drawn other than this: This is just plain creepy.
The gaffe, if it can even be called that because it appears nearly impossible for this to have been an accident, appears to have been originally caught by the blog, No More Mister Nice Blog. The Times, which later pulled the photo from its story, makes no mention of the Obama girls anywhere in the piece, yet clearly identified them in the photo caption that ran with the story.
ASSOCIATED PRESS PHOTOGRAPHS The Obama daughters (above) - Sasha, 7, and Malia, 10 - attended the private University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. This school year 36 of the city's school children have been killed.
How the hell does something like this happen, even at the country's most conservative daily newspaper during a Democratic administration? Are there no humans with active souls, with warm blood pumping through their veins, around to man the ship over there?
Eric Boehlert at Media Matters chewed on this a bit earlier today.
Think about the specifics of today's case. The Obama children, of course, are not actually mentioned in the news story. But somebody at the WashTimes thought it made perfect sense to insert the image of the underage White House occupants into a story about murdered kids in Chicago.
And no, this was not an example of an unfortunate juxtaposition, where the the Obama girls photo was actually part of another, more innocuous story and because of a layout quirk simply appeared near the murdered-kids story. Instead, the Obama girls photo was specifically selected to accompany the article.
Here's an interesting side note to the story: Looking though the comments, it appears as though only one Times reader, commenting under the name "jiff," bothered to express outrage at the use of the photo.
"I am appalled that you put a picture of the President's children with this article. Please explain the reasoning behind this."
Say what you want about the politics of former Times editor-in-chief Wesley Pruden, and he was as radically conservative as they come, but I doubt there's any way horseshit like this would've happened under his watch.