A photograph taken by Getty Images on Friday of a man wearing a racist t-shirt at a Mitt Romney rally in Ohio has caused controversy over Getty’s unsubstantiated claim the man is a supporter of the Republican presidential nominee.
The photo showed a tight shot of the back of a bald-headed white man wearing a black t-shirt emblazoned with all-capitalized white lettering that said, “Put the white back in the White House.” Above the lettering at the nape of the man’s neck a Romney-Ryan sticker was neatly applied to the t-shirt.
Getty captioned the photo:
LANCASTER, OH - OCTOBER 12: A supporter of Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Republican vice presidential candidate U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) waits for a campaign event to begin on October 12, 2012 in Lancaster, Ohio. Ryan debated U.S. Vice President Joe Biden the evening before and Romney is scheduled to debate U.S. President Barack Obama for the second time on October 16. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
A Getty representative speaking not for attribution told Breitbart the photographer did not speak with the man wearing the t-shirt and that he did not know with certainty the man was a Romney supporter. The representative did not know whether Getty would run a correction for the caption.
While liberals online pointed to the photograph as proof of racism among Romney supporters, conservatives wondered whether the man was a plant trying to make Romney look bad.
When Tea Party street activism was at its height, a movement called Crash the Tea Party was formed to infiltrate Tea Party rallies with liberal activists who would create bad optics for the Tea Party by acting out for the media liberal stereotypes of conservatives. Leftist infiltrators wearing Nazi symbols have been driven out of Tea Party events around the country in the past. Why didn't Getty bother to find out if the man in the photo was a plant?
BuzzFeed staffer Andrew Kaczynski initially reported on the photo at BuzzFeed and on his Twitter feed.
The Romney campaign issued a statement to Kaczynski denouncing the t-shirt saying it was, “reprehensible and has no place in this election.”
While BuzzFeed did not claim the man was a Romney supporter, it did not note the possibility the man could have been a liberal plant.
Huffington Post reported on the photo Saturday morning with the headline “Romney Supporter Wears 'Put The White Back In The White House' T-Shirt At Ohio Campaign Event (PHOTO).” The Huffington Post article did not mention any effort to ascertain whether in fact the man was a Romney supporter.
Likewise, Global Grind repeated without question the unproven allegation in its report on the photo: ”during a campaign event in Ohio this past Friday, one Romney supporter took it too far as he was spotted wearing a shirt that read “Put The White Back In The White House.”
UPDATE: The Huffington Post has been pushing the 'racist Romney supporter' meme on Twitter throughout the weekend. The main Huffington Post Twitter account tweeted their article several times on Saturday to its 2.1 million followers--and again Sunday morning.
Likewise for Huffington Post's "Latino Voices" Twitter account, which tweeted
the Huffington Post article several times on Saturday to that account's nearly 15,000 followers, also did so on Sunday morning.
Ezra Dulis contributed to this article.