Rumors swirled on Thursday that Moammar Gaddafi was captured, injured, possibly killed. A photograph appeared — a death mask quickly snapped on a cell phone — and then the airwaves and news sites filled up with gory videos of a dying tyrant. Beaten and defeated, Moammar Gaddafi filled our screens. It was an orgy of bloody imagery.
On the front pages of almost every newspaper, those images appeared once more on Friday morning. Small, large, under gleeful headlines and somber words, a pink-hued Gaddafi struggling to survive showed up on breakfast tables around the world.
It was not some bloodlust that drove the demand for those images. It was not the need to prove the 42-year reign of Gaddafi had ended. Rather, it was that the moment between life and death had become the news story.
As the Post’s Phil Kennicott writes about the images of Gaddafi, “This simultaneity of death and life changed everything... An image of a living man juxtaposed with an image of his corpse is a drama. Everything in between is left to the imagination.”
The Post’s Photo Director, Michel DuCille agreed, though he had first thought to put up the image of Gaddafi dead. “There was a news aspect... Whether or not he was being cared for is a big question.”