In 1936 a famous photo was disseminated, highlighting the drought during the depression by showing a sun-bleached cow skull resting on cracked, dry earth. However, some sharp-eyed newspapermen at the Fargo Forum noticed that the same skull appeared in some not-so-arid photos taken by the same photographer around the same time. The Forum cried foul -- the skull had been moved, to provide a more powerful photo. The photographer argued the common defense: it may not be what was happening, but it shows what was actually happening. Rothstein wasn't particularly affected by the revelation, photographing some of the more famous photos of the Dust Bowl (which, it seems, was also staged), but the FSA drew criticism that if they had to fake all their photos, they must be faking the rest of their work. The Forum warned Roosevelt, who was visiting the state at the time, not to trust such faked photos; North Dakota wanted to let the president know that we're doing just fine here, thanks. Turns out, Rothstein was with Roosevelt at the time. As the Time article above notes, the Forum had a field-day with faked photos, it seems: one claimed the Missouri River was bone dry (not true), and another claimed cattle were overrunning the State Capitol (only true on Stampede Saturdays). Oh, OK, that last one was completely false: it'd have been pretty tough for a herd of cattle to get all the way to the capitol grounds, even back in the 1930s, but someone had a photo to prove it, so it must've been true.
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