The Associated Press (AP) has explained the agency’s decision to distribute a photo—and later take it down—depicting a handgun being pointed at Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s forehead. AP’s Vice President and Director of Media Relations Paul Colford said in a statement: “Presidential candidate Ted Cruz was shown in a series of 14 photos taken by an Associated Press photographer at a ‘Celebrate the 2nd Amendment’ event Saturday afternoon [June 20], held at a shooting range in Johnston, Iowa. Five of the photos published by AP included images of guns seen on a wall in the background so that it appeared a pistol was pointed at Sen. Cruz’s head. The images were not intended to portray Sen. Cruz in a negative light.” In a letter to supporters after the photos were published, Cruz wrote, “The liberal media is attacking again. I called out Democrats for trying to use the tragic event in South Carolina to advance their partisan agenda on gun control, and now, the liberal media has literally put a gun to my head… They are mocking and threatening not only me but anyone who supports the Second Amendment as well. In their attempt to sell newspapers, they are stirring up anti-gun sentiments.” Media Research Center founder and president Brent Bozell, who heads a media watchdog group, has asked that the photographer who took the pictures, Charlie Neibergall, be fired, along with all the managers who approved publishing the image on the wire service’s distribution channels.
Bozell’s statement read: This is disgusting. Just days after a horrific shooting that took nine lives, the AP has the gall to unapologetically display a gun aimed at the head of a presidential candidate. They would never do this to Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. Nor should they. The AP is lying. This was not an accident. They made a deliberate decision to publish the photo. The AP owes Senator Cruz, his wife Heidi, and his children an immediate and unqualified apology. Furthermore, I am calling on the AP to conduct a complete investigation of everyone involved in the publishing of the photo and to fire those who ultimately made the decision to publish the photo. For context, on the Shooter’s Log, we strive to ensure firearms and images of firearms are never pointed at human beings, much less presidential candidates. In fact, we even attempt not to have separate images of firearms pointed directly at humans.