The Associated Press is apologizing for what it says was a failure to place an instantly classic picture of Mitt Romney in the proper context.
The photo showed a little girl gaping as Romney bent down in front of her. The AP's original caption said that he was posing for pictures with schoolchildren.
The picture attracted instant attention, and some conservatives began accusing the AP of deliberately publishing an unflattering photo of Romney. The wire service later updated its caption, making clear that the girl was reacting to Romney's decision to pose for a picture with her and her classmates.
On Wednesday, AP executive editor Kathleen Carroll issued a statement apologizing for the situation:
The original caption on the photo of Gov. Romney taken Monday at a Virginia school was literally correct -- it said the governor was posing for photos with schoolchildren. But it was too generic and missed the boat by not explaining exactly what was happening. The student with the surprised expression had just realized that the governor was going to crouch down in front of her for the group photo.
We amended the caption on Tuesday with that explanation, but by then many people had seen the photo and were confused by or angry about it. Those generic captions help us process a large number of photos on a busy campaign day, but some photos demand more explanation and we fell short of our own standards by not providing it in this case.