While showing a short video to my Ohio History class produced during the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign by the BBC about the city of Youngstown, Ohio, one of my students noticed something odd: the producers of the spot deliberately paired up one image of an Ohio man pointing a rifle alongside another image with then-candidate Barack Obama standing with blue collar workers in Youngstown.
The lecture focused on the central status of post-industrial Ohio as sort of the epicenter of the American Rust Belt, and I intended the video to be a conversation starter about how Ohio cities might rebuild and once again thrive. The last time I showed this video I noted that it took a few political cheap shots, like the political cartoons it showed while broadcasting a speech by John McCain that referenced Youngstown. However, I completely missed the photographic implication of violence by an Ohioan toward a presidential candidate.
Now, I might be willing to write this off as an unfortunate choice in editing were it not for the fact that the image of the rifle-pointer is Henry P. Nemenz Sr., a Youngstown area grocer. Moreover, while the image appears, a BBC reporter is interviewing Nemenz, and the business owner says the following words:
"I guess there's one real strong reason why I d not support Obama, and he has made a promise to the unions in the United States that he will make it easier to unionize businesses."It is clear to me (and to my students) that the BBC deliberately chose an image of Nemenz pointing a gun at Barack Obama to use during the portion of the interview in which Nemenz spells out his distaste for Obama's politics. Here is a link to the video, and the image and interview in question can be picked up around the 6:45 mark:
Now, I might disagree with some of the political views of Henry Nemenz, but I highly doubt that the business owner would advocate taking the life of an American president, even one with whom he holds divergent political opinions. Heck, I doubt that even Michael Moore would cross the line into the legally questionable area of suggesting violence be meted out to political opponents, even in a moment of video snarkiness.
I call a low blow, and I urge the BBC to apologize to my fellow Ohioan Henry Nemenz if they have not already done so. One article suggests that Nemenz may not be a saint, but he is far from a President-shooting lunatic, and the BBC owes him an apology.