Photoshop Used to Simulate Political Endorsement, Temporarily

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If you are running for office in Alabama, it would be great to have the endorsement of University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban.  Having a picture of you and Coach Saban together would really go a long way.  And with today's technology, the fact that you have never actually met Coach Saban is not an obstacle to realizing this dream.

Photo courtesy of Birmingham News Dorothy Davidson, a candidate for mayor of Bessemer, Alabama (a suburb of Birmingham), said last month that Saban had endorsed her candidacy, and she distributed fliers showing the two of them side-by-side on a golf course.  Asked about this, the school's athletic department said Saban had not endorsed anybody.

Asked about that, Davidson insisted that the picture of her with Saban on the golf course was real and had been taken three weeks before.  When she was later shown an eerily similar picture of Saban apparently standing in exactly the same place on the same golf course, wearing the same clothes, and with his hair in exactly the same position, but with his wife next to him instead of Davidson, Davidson then clarified that position.  Her picture had been taken three weeks before.  It had then been (poorly) digitally added to the Saban photo, after Saban's inconveniently placed wife had been digitally removed.

Actually, it appears she was not entirely removed — it  looks to me like some of Mrs. Saban's hair is still visible at the top right of Davidson's head.

According to Davidson, "[t]hey said we could do it this way," and her campaign manager, Kevin Morris, clarified that "they" was Coach Saban. Morris said he had asked Saban about it one day on the golf course and that Saban had said okay.

Later that day, though, Morris admitted that maybe that was not one hundred percent true, either.  "I lied," he conceded, but said he had deceived Davidson, too.  Obviously Davidson knew she had not posed with Saban, but Morris said he had told her (falsely) that Saban had agreed to the Photoshoppery. (Whether Saban ever expressed support for Davidson is not clear.  Morris maintains that he did.  Saban himself does not seem to have commented, but the athletic department consistently denied that the coach was ever contacted for an endorsement.)  Morris resigned.

In the election on August 24, Davidson got 13 percent of the vote, placing fourth out of six.  The top two will go head-to-head in an October runoff, although maybe there will be three in the picture by election time.