(Evan Vucci//Associated Press)

Hmmm, what’s going on in this Mitt Romney photo from a campaign stop yesterday in Fairfield, Va.?

That’s what detractors want to know. Tim Graham of NewsBusters wrote last night of the Associated Press shot: “It’s unbelievable. It honestly looks like a little girl is gaping at Romney from behind.” And FoxNews.com gets expert Penn State expert Steve Manuel to say this about the image:

In this photo, while it may appear funny, AP knows exactly what viewers are thinking. It’s not legitimate news. AP knows that viewers are going to chuckle and imagine what the little girl is seeing, and it makes Gov. Romney appear a bit foolish.

The Associated Press has now come out with a statement on the photo controversy:

The Associated Press on Monday took and distributed six photos of Gov. Romney’s visit to an elementary school in Fairfield, Va., to its member news organizations and customers.

One image showed Mr. Romney as he was crouching down to pose for a photo with the schoolchildren. It received a caption addition on Tuesday to better explain what was happening. The caption addition was as follows:

CLARIFIES THAT STUDENT IS REACTING BECAUSE MITT ROMNEY WILL BE POSING FOR A PHOTO DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF HER AND HER CLASSMATES - Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney poses for photographs with students of Fairfield Elementary School, Monday, Oct. 8, 2012, in Fairfield, Va. A student, right, reacts as she realizes Romney will crouch down directly in front of her and her classmates for the group photo. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

AP’s “caption addition” is helpful. Now we know what accounts for that amazed expression on the face of the child behind the Republican presidential candidate. Yet the statement here hews to the clinical, to its detriment. Why not a little statement of regret to the candidate for throwing out a photo that makes him look silly, sans explanation?