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Governor’s staff says photo of Dunleavy, Stevens and Babcock was altered

  • Author: Matt Tunseth
  • Updated: October 5
  • Published October 5

In a photo crop at left, an unaltered photo of Gov. Mike Dunleavy provided by Dunleavy's office on Oct. 1. The crop at right shows the altered version released by the governor's office on July 31. (Photos provided by the office of Gov. Mike Dunleavy)

A widely circulated photo of Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy with his former and current chiefs of staff this summer was altered to remove evidence of the governor’s surgery the day before.

Dunleavy spokesman Matt Shuckerow confirmed last week that the photo of the governor, Tuckerman Babcock and Ben Stevens distributed by Dunleavy’s office July 31 was digitally manipulated. Previously the governor had only acknowledged altering a photo of the governor with Sen. David Wilson.

“That photo was also touched up by the governor’s staff,” Shuckerow said of the photo in which Dunleavy stands between Babcock and Stevens.

The photo was taken July 31 and distributed that same day. Shuckerow said Dunleavy had surgery the day before to remove a cancerous growth from his forehead. The governor’s office said biopsies of skin removed from his forehead confirmed a basal cell carcinoma, or a mild form of skin cancer.

In this photo provided Oct. 1, 2019, Gov. Mike Dunleavy (center) poses for a photo with Tuckerman Babcock, left, and Ben Stevens, right. The governor's office said Monday that this photo is the original version of an official photo shared by the governor on July 31 that was altered to remove a scar on the governor's forehead from surgery the previous day. (Photo provided by the office of Gov. Mike Dunleavy)

Dunleavy’s Aug. 2 tweet of a photo with him and Sen. Wilson acknowledged his office had altered photos but did not specify which ones had been retouched.

“Like many Alaskans, I spend a lot of time in the sun. Out of an abundance of caution, my Dr. removed some questionable areas of my forehead. My staff thought some of my photos looked better touched up. I’m happy to say, I’m in good health. Moral of the story, wear sunscreen,” he wrote.


Photos from that day’s bill signing are posted on the governor’s Flickr page with the scar removed.

The Daily News first asked the governor’s office for specifics about the photo alterations Sept. 3. In a Sept. 19 follow-up email, a reporter sent Shuckerow the photo of Dunleavy, Babcock and Stevens and asked if it had been altered. After an Oct. 1 email again asking about the photo, Shuckerow said it was, indeed, altered and provided the original version.

He said to his knowledge the July 31 photos of Dunleavy, Babcock and Stevens -- along with the Aug. 1 photos of Dunleavy and Sen. Wilson -- are the only ones the governor’s office has altered.

The altered photo was distributed by the governor’s office and posted by news outlets across Alaska; it remains active on most stories about the governor and Babcock, who was replaced by Stevens on July 31 as Dunleavy’s chief of staff.

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