On June 21, Time magazine announced its July cover. Prominently featured on the cover is a 2-year-old Honduran girl, crying. The photo of the little girl was used as part of an illustration, meant to symbolize the ongoing immigration debate. Crying, with a horrified expression on her face, the child is looking up at President Donald Trump, who is depicted towering over the child, smiling, and looking down.
Time‘s editors selected this powerful photograph, taken by John Moore, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer for Getty Images, to criticize President Trump’s now-reversed policy of separating children from parents detained at the United States border.
It later turned out that the little girl featured on the cover of Time magazine was not even separated from her mother. Reuters talked to the girl’s father, Denis Valera, who said the following.
“My daughter has become a symbol of the separation of children at the U.S. border. She may have even touched President Trump’s heart.”
Valera’s daughter may indeed be the symbol of separation of children at the U.S. border, but according to the father as well Honduran deputy foreign minister Nelly Jerez, the little girl and her mother, Sandra Sanchez, have been detained, together, in the Texas border town of McAllen. Sanchez applied for asylum, and although detained, she was not separated from her daughter.
Time Magazine‘s editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal weighed in on the controversial issue today in a conversation with CNN‘s Brian Stelter.
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) June 24, 2018
Critics, CNN noted, have deemed the cover misleading, because the child is not among the thousands separated from their parents. After being asked whether he thinks Time had made a mistake by putting the misleading photo on the cover, the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Edward Felsenthal, responded that the magazine had chosen the photo because the little girl “became the face of this story.”
After the host further pressed Felsenthal on the issue, adding that maybe the girl shouldn’t have been the face of the story, Time‘s editor said that the unknown is, in fact, a “part of the power of the image.”
“We did make an error, which I obviously regret – I hate making errors any time – but we made an error on a web story early in the week, in which we said that the mother had been separated. We quickly and transparently corrected that. We didn’t know, and nobody using this photo knew on Monday or Tuesday, that they had not been separated.”
The photo, Felsenthal added, “symbolized this moment in America,” since the little girl “became a face of this debate,” and juxtaposing her with President Trump was a “powerful, important” statement.