"...I can’t let the armchair critics bother me. They were not there. They have no idea how very quickly it happened," the explanation in The New York Post today by R.Umar Abbasi, the photographer who snapped The Post's controversial Tuesday cover and is suddenly starting to open up about it a lot more. Abbasi's column is a makeshift mea culpa of sorts for the papers macabre rubber-necking cover of a man about to be hit by the train. Editors haven't spoken about their decision to run the cover, and by giving Abbasi the cover today, it seems like they and Abbasi may be implicitly acknowledging that running that photo wasn't the best decision. Abbasi also spoke to The New York Times last night and, this morning, to the Today show's Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie, whom he told that "if I could have, I would have pulled Mr. Han out." Here's that interview:
Abbasi, who yesterday would only talk to CNN for money, isn't backing down from his story: that he only had 22 seconds (at least one other witness says Han was on the tracks for over a minute) to react; that Ki Suk Han, the man pushed onto the tracks, was too far away; that he was trying to get the driver to stop by shooting his camera and triggering his flashbulbs. The only thing he says in The Post about that indelible picture is that he didn't look at it:
When it was over, I didn’t look at the pictures.
I didn’t even know at all that I had even captured the images in such detail. I didn’t look at them. I didn’t want to.
It was just too emotional a day.
I brought the camera memory card back to the office and turned it in. Two detectives came and looked at the photos and I just sat in a chair.
When I finally looked at them late that night, my heart started racing. It was terrible, seeing it happen all over again.
If that's true, then Abbasi lucked out into the shot and The Post's editors picked and sifted through Abbasi's memory card for that picture. And it was also The Post's decision to play up certain aspects of the story and downplay others, like running a tiny photo of the suspect. The Twitter reaction to Abbasi's far has been mixed—and that's actually way better than yesterday:
Like Abbasi says, we weren't there. And we don't know if taking lots of pictures to get the conductor's attention would be our decision if put in the same dilemma. And judge as little or as much as you want—that was Abbasi's split-second call which he has to live with. Choosing to run that photo wasn't.