The Associated Press removed a photo of an art piece called "Piss Christ" from its website Wednesday after a journalist pointed out the company's double standard. AP has refused to publish the Charlie Hebdo cartoons mocking Muhammad that led to Hebdo's murder due to its policy of not publishing "deliberately provocative images."
In a Wednesday interview with The Daily Beast, an AP spokesperson explained why the company did not publish, or cropped, images of Charlie Hebdo cartoons.
"It's been our policy for years that we refrain from moving deliberately provocative images," the spokesman said.
Later that day, Timothy Carney of The Washington Examiner pointed out the double standard by noting that AP had a photo of "Piss Christ," an Andres Serrano art photo from 1989 that was offensive to many Christians and deliberately provocative. (The artist placed a crucifix in a jar, filled the jar with his own urine and took a photo of it.)
Carney included a screenshot from the AP website showing that one could still purchase a photo of Serrano's work.
Around the time Carney published, AP pulled the image of "Piss Christ." The link was replaced with a page that now says, "Oops! This image is not part of your portfolio. Please contact customer support."
In an interview with Politico after the photo was removed, an AP spokesperson explained that AP has continued to revise and review its policies since 1989, the year that the photo of "Piss Christ" was taken.
"It's been our policy for years that we refrain from moving deliberately provocative images. It is fair to say we have revised and reviewed our policies since 1989," the spokesperson said.
Charlie Hebdo editor Stephane Charbonnier and cartoonist Jean "Cabu" Cabut were murdered, along with 10 other people, in a Wednesday terrorist attack at the offices of the satirical newspaper where Hebdo worked. Hebdo was frequently accused of mocking Islam with his caricatures of Muhammad.
Serrano's work was also highly controversial. The piece was once vandalized, and the artist and gallery owners had received death threats.