The New York Times’ Adam Liptak looks at the ethical question faced by
courtroom artists who take on private commissions in an article titled ‘Question of Perspective in Courtroom Paintings’ . The article focuses on Todd Crespi ( shown above sketching Bush v. Gore in 2000 ), an artist who clearly crosses an ethical line.
I’m quoted in the article as saying I’m “not very critical of Todd” , and it may appear that I condone his misrepresentations. I don’t.
But before condemning him I need to remind myself of a few journalistic lapses in my past. It used to be common practice to have artists do “re-creations” for a news stories, and lawyers still ask to have their day in court sketched after the fact.
Today I have a bright line : a sketch artist doesn’t sketch what he has not witnessed.
Once on a visit to the Folger I saw two nearly identical 17th century prints of a knight on horseback, the only difference was that one had the head of Charles I, and the other the head of Oliver Cromwell.