Photojournalist Erica Denhoff has expressed her surprise and disappointment with NBC after the network, she says, intentionally edited her photos of transgender University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas to have the athlete’s features “softened.”
NBC’s Today Show was accused earlier this week with presenting altered photos of Thomas, seemingly to soften the swimmer’s masculine features during their gushing coverage of the athlete.
Thomas, a biological male who used to compete against males, handily took first place in the NCAA Women’s Swimming Championship 500-yard freestyle last Thursday, sparking much outrage.
“I pride myself on providing authentic images as a photojournalist,” Denhoff told the Washington Examiner, adding that she was “disappointed” by the network’s actions.
Denhoff graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2008, the Examiner noted, where she was “a varsity athlete on the track and field team.”
At first, the journalist said she thought “something was honestly wrong with the video,” but after viewing the segment numerous times, she now believes the editing of her images was “intentional,” the Examiner detailed.
“When I first noticed the airbrushing on the segment referenced, I thought something was honestly wrong with the video. But then, I watched it again and thought, ‘Wait a minute, this appears to be intentional. Lia’s features are softened,'” Denhoff said. “I then went to my original photo, on the sites that they could access to license the photo, and compared it and immediately saw a difference.”
“It’s really important as photojournalists that we transmit authentic photos that have not been altered,” she emphasized.
Below is the Today show segment on Thomas from last week that has come under fire on social media. The segment includes photos from Denhoff, she says, and others.
Watch how giddy NBC's 'Today' show is about Lia Thomas crushing the competition at the NCAA D1 women's swimming and diving championships.
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) March 17, 2022
Below is a photo taken by Denhoff:
And here is a photo presented in the Today segment:
The segment included the following images, as well, which were criticized online for being altered:
One viral tweet highlighted by the Examiner shows a side-by-side of the alleged photo altering by Today:
im crying why did NBC Today airbrush the FUCK out of this picture lmaooooo pic.twitter.com/YDwuVU3Cj3
— Perfect Sweetie Pagliacci (Devilish!) (@NeoPagliacci) March 19, 2022
“To me, it definitely seems like something was going on with the airbrushing/noise reduction of all of Lia’s photos in this segment,” Denhoff said.
“My photo that they licensed was an authentic photo,” the photojournalist added. “I’m surprised and disappointed that Today altered my image of Lia for this particular news segment.”
Thomas has been widely criticized for dominating in women’s sports while being biologically male, not only by conservatives, but feminists and actual competitors of Thomas’, too.