Stock photography is not your friend

A long time ago, I wrote direct mail for a campaign consulting firm, and it wasn’t unusual to use stock photography in various mailings.

If, for example, the firm was going to criticize Representative So-and-so for cutting education, the piece would use a picture of a sad kid — and it didn’t matter if the mailing was going to voters in Portland, Oregon, and Portland, Maine, at the same time. For one thing, the voters wouldn’t know. For another, a sad kid looks like a sad kid everywhere.

But that was 15 years ago, when the Internet was in its infancy and it was tougher to check these things. These days, candidates have to realize that using stock photos is inviting trouble.

Just as Rep. Denny Rehberg (R), running for the Senate in Montana, who used a nice photo of “Montana’s seniors” in a taxpayer-financed mailing who aren’t from Montana.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.