A West Virginia man wants answers tonight, after discovering an iconic photo of his father, inside the controversial Mueller Report.
Ronnie Hipshire’s father, Lee, spent decades as a coal miner. Photojournalist Earl Dotter perfectly captured his grit and determination in an iconic 1976 image.
“He knew he had a good picture from the start,” said Hipshire.
His face is quite familiar to anyone who has ever picked up a UMWA Miners Manual.
“This picture has been all around the world,” said Hipshire. “You Google ‘coal miner’ and this picture usually pops up.”
It’s been seen on music CDs in England. It was even on the cover of a 1978 Time magazine. Even though they got it a little wrong, changing the color of his hat from black to red.
“A red hat signifies a new miner, someone who just started in the mine,” said Hipshire. “Here my dad had 30 years on him at the time of this picture, so they all joked and kidded him about that.”
What was no laughing matter, just a few days ago, Ronnie discovered the same image was used as propaganda by Russians targeting coal miners in a 2016 rally in Pittsburgh. They illegally placed it on a Pro-Trump poster, which is documented on page 31 of the now famous report.
“You only know that the Russians did steal the picture and did use in campaign rallies,” exclaimed Hipshire. “We don’t know how, we don’t know why, we just know they used it time and time again to better the Trump campaign.”
Ironically, Ronnie says his dad wouldn’t have supported this use.
“My dad was a staunch Democrat,” said Hipshire. “He wouldn’t like this at all.”
It’s a sentiment Ronnie shares, “My answer would’ve been no. It’s ultimately up to Earl Dotter, because he owns the rights to the picture. But, I know Earl, and he would’ve said no too.”
Lee Hipshire died of black lung complications in 1987 at the age of 57.
One of Ronnie’s most memorable moments was seeing his dad’s picture in the Smithsonian, where it will permanently hang in the Institution’s National Portrait Gallery.