Washington, Oct.11 : As sexism charges against media coverage of Sarah Palin have intensified in recent weeks, one particular news photograph has roused widespread fury among readers who say it demeans the Alaska governor as nothing more than a sex object.
The photographs -- taken Wednesday by the Reuters wire service and also by the Associated Press -- shows the Republican vice presidential candidate addressing supporters at a rally in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. But the only glimpse of Palin in the photo is a blurred close-up of her legs -- with the face of a young, male audience member set between them as he looks upward at the stage.
The photograph prompted 11,485 viewer comments in the first three hours after it was posted Thursday on FOXNews.com.
Some readers, unconvinced that it is an objective news photo, speculated whether it would have been taken if Palin were a male candidate.
"By showing Sarah Palin's legs instead of her face, it couldn't be anything but sexist," wrote one viewer.
"We'd never have a photo like this of Joe Biden," added another, who called on groups like the National Organization of Women to condemn it.
Other readers even charged that the Reuters photo was part of a larger effort by the "mainstream media" to depict Palin as an ineffectual candidate whose only qualities worthy of attention are her physical attributes.
"We expect this behavior from the tabloids, but not a once respected news agency. Just proves how insanely desperate the left has become," wrote a viewer.
Others also dismissed recent criticism of the latest Newsweek cover, which shows a close-up picture of Palin's face that was not retouched or airbrushed.
It's inherently sexist, viewers wrote, to expect that a female candidate's picture be altered to enhance her appearance.
"It's sexism in reverse to claim that Newsweek's photo should have been airbrushed.