Don’t believe your eyes: The Post-Truth Images are coming


While President-Elect Trump lambasts certain news organisations as 'fake news', and refuses to call on them during press conferences, the world has looked on, astounded by the hypocrisy of a man whose campaign was built almost entirely on ‘Post-Truth’ politics.

In case you missed it, the Oxford Dictionary declared ‘Post-Truth’ to be the word of 2016, and while politicians have never been known for honest campaigning - the OED has formally acknowledged a shift in the landscape of public discourse. Facts are out, emotional appeals are in.

What will this shift look like in how photos and film are used by campaigns? Of course it’s not new for politicians to manipulate images for their own purposes, but now, more than ever before, we should carefully scrutinise what’s put in front of us. Nigel Farage’s Brexit ‘Breaking Point’ image perhaps signalled what’s to come. Another – albeit strange – example from 2016 was the story of a friendly cartoon frog ‘Pepe’, which has been manipulated by the alt-right until it became a symbol of white supremacy. If harmless cartoons aren’t safe, who is?

At a time when so much is at stake, careful scrutiny of images is more important than ever before.

Update: 24th January 2017

Well, that didn't take long. Less than 24 hours after taking office, the Trump administration has used its first 'post-truth' image. Sean Spicer, the White House Press Secretary, took on the press to combat claims that the new president's inauguration was not as highly attended as Obama's in 2008. In his press briefing, he stood in front of an image taken from the front of the inauguration, which he used as a basis for his defence. Vanity Fair took this helpful image...

The below still, taken from this story in the Independent, highlights the difference in numbers the press had been reporting.

It's rather helpful that there were cameras on the Washington Monument. I don't suppose we'll be fortunate enough to have multiple angles in the future.