Albion Monitor /News

Dole TV Adman Found Doctoring Images

by Jeff Elliott

Stevens continues as a television producer for Dole, producing several recent commercials charging President Clinton as dishonest

The television producer responsible for Bob Dole's recent ads attacking President Clinton's character was fired by a Republican senator last month, after it was revealed that the ad agency had "doctored" a picture of a Democratic opponent.

Republican senator John Warner quickly pulled the ad on October 9th and dismissed media consultant Greg Stevens when it was revealed that Stevens had placed the deceptive photograph in a television commercial. Senator Warner also apologized to Democratic challenger Mark Warner and to the people of Virginia.

Stevens continues as a television producer for the Dole campaign, however, producing several recent commercials charging President Clinton as dishonest. "...Next time you see a Clinton ad, don't let him fool you," warns one of the Dole ads that began airing after the Virginia fraud was exposed.

According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Dole campaign spokeswoman Christina Martin said, "Greg Stevens is one person on a three-man ad team. He has not, and will not, produce ads of this nature for the Dole campaign."

"His head was moved from one body to another, and his body was removed"

In the manipulated picture, Democrat Mark Warner appears to be shaking hands with former Virginia governor Wilder, while President Clinton smiles happily in the background. As the picture is shown, an announcer says that Mark Warner had "spent his life as a political insider, raising millions to elect the country's most liberal politicians."

But in the original photograph, which appeared in the Washington Post and other newspapers on October 22, 1994, it is Senator Charles Robb (D-Virginia) shaking hands in the picture. Greg Stevens & Co. of Alexandria, Virginia, used image processing software to "paste" Mark Warner's face on Senator Robb's body.

A spokesman for the senator explained to reporters, "Senator Robb's face was removed from the photograph. Mark was in that photograph. His head was moved from one body to another, and his body was removed."

Although the Mark Warner campaign did not object to the context of the doctored picture -- the candidate supports both Clinton and Wilder, and was in the background of the original photograph -- the Democrats attacked the ads, which were paid for by the Republican National Committee, as a smear tactic.

"It may be new technology, but it's the worst of old-style politics," Mark Warner said.

Senator John Warner first learned of the fraudulent image from reporters, many of whom had received tips from Democratic campaign workers who posted a report on the incident to the Mark Warner campaign web page.

Although the senator won praise for taking responsibility for the act, the Republican campaign at first refused to issue an apology, even after admitting that the photo was faked. Initially, the senator's supporters said they would keep running the ad, only without the photo. Senator John Warner also told reporters that the deception was innocent, and that Stevens had taken too literally his order to omit any mention of Senator Robb in his campaign.

Stevens issued a statement afterward, saying that "There is no justification...In my own zeal to demonstrate Mark Warner's clear political insider status, we played with the picture to fill a hole in the ad and make a point."

The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk also reported that Stevens originally claimed to have bought the photo from a news service he would not identify. The paper reported that he said, "I'm not going to show you anything," then hung up.

Stevens is a well-known producer of political ads, and has been responsible other controversial spots. According to his AP profile, Stevens claimed a role in Bush's 1988 victory by producing a TV commercial embarassing Michael Dukakis by showing him wearing a combat helmet while driving a tank.

Recent events only reflect dirty Virginia politics

Although the incident has received little national attention, many Virginians might say that such dirty tricks are common in state politics, where political alliances shift like desert sand.

The banquet that was the source of the original 1994 picture, for example, was one of the most important political events of that year. Moments before the picture was taken, Wilder had given his nod to Senator Robb over Republican candidate Oliver North. Wilder's endorsement was credited as significantly helping North's defeat in the election that followed about two weeks later.

The 1994 senatorial race lives on in other ways, too. Senator John Warner also refused to endorse Ollie North that year, and as a result, conservative Virginians took revenge by strongly supporting his opponent in the 1996 Republican primaries.

But the candidate that conservatives supported this year was Jim Miller, best known as Ollie North's bitter opponent in the 1994 Republican primary. That year Miller tried to portray North as dishonest and possibly deranged, suggesting that North had destroyed records showing that he had been hospitalized for mental illness. North denied the charges, and later crowed when it was revealed that Miller's family had a history of mood disorders.

According to polls available at PoliticsNow, Republican John Warner is expected to win re-election in the conservative state over Democrat Mark Warner. Neither Warner has questioned the other's sanity, although wags note that the Senator was once married to Elizabeth Taylor.

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Albion Monitor November 4, 1996 (

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