They can't even read the wikipedia page to learn the juicier accusation that Capa didn't even shoot it. Their historical ignorance is, as a rule, astoundingly complete.
Anyways, be that as it may. In 1936 we were just learning that handy device for discrediting photographs we don't like by accusing them of being staged, modified, faked, or what have you. My intention here is to give you a little insight into the kinds of scholarship that turn up in this little cottage industry of tearing down.
In 1936 James Agee and Walker Evans spent some time with some sharecroppers, documenting their lives with photos and words. The assignment was for Forbes, and the resulting article was, for a long time, lost. More on that in a moment. Forbes declined to publish, so the two eventually (1941) put out a famous book entitled Let Us Now Praise Famous Men which is a pile of experimental writing from Agee, and some pictures by Walker Evans. Everyone knows the pictures, and nobody has read the book.
In the 1991 James Curtis published a book entitled Mind's Eye, Mind's Truth in which he points out the now-obvious fact that the FSA photography project was propaganda. In it he makes the claim that Walker Evans moved stuff around to make better pictures, while on assignment with Agee. This is something Evans would deny vigorously. He didn't think moving things around made better pictures, but I don't think he gave much of a damn in terms of literal truth of the frame. At any rate, not in the modern hysterical sense.
Curtis has a lot to say in his book, much of which seems to be pretty spot on. He does, however, level specific accusations at Evans. He wants to say that Evans staged all sorts of stuff, moved things around on the sharecropper cabins willy-nilly. He's on pretty shaky ground, but he has one big smoking gun that makes the rest of his stuff seem more credible. His arguments are repeated, questioned, and ultimately found to be pretty sound in Errol Morris's book Seeing is Believing. The smoking gun is this:
At one point in Agee's writing there is an exhaustive list of the contents of a mantel. In Evans's photo of the same mantel we see much of what Agee describes, and an Alarm Clock, not mentioned in the list. At this point, Curtis essentially makes the argument that it looks like a travel alarm clock, the kind Evans would have, and without saying as much "and what would a bunch of poor dumbshit farmers have a clock for anyways." The whole argument hinges on the idea that the family doesn't have a clock because why would they, and also Agee doesn't mention a clock in his text.
I will now quote from Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. In this passage, in a section entitled The House is Left Alone Agee is talking about what it's like to be alone in the house, inspecting it unwitnessed:
... it is now my chance to perceive this, their home, as it is, in whose hollow heart resounds the loud zinc flickering heartbeat of the cheap alarm two hours advanced upon false time; ...
I'm going to start swearing loudly now, because this still infuriates me, years later. These Curtis's crap is everywhere, thanks to Errol Morris, and that angers me.
Goodness me. What could this be. Why, it's Agee, saying that the Gudger family owns a fucking cheap alarm clock.
Curtis didn't read the goddamned book. Errol Morris didn't read the goddamned book. Curtis's critics, to their eternal shame, evidently didn't read the goddamned book. Has anyone except me read this fucking thing?
This is just lousy scholarship. Curtis simply couldn't be bothered to wade through what is admittedly a difficult book to check his assertion (or, worse, maybe he did and just hoped that nobody else would, an apparently worthy hope).
The original Agee article was eventually unearthed and published in 2013, well after Curtis and Morris did their damage, as Cotton Tenants. This book contains the following footnote:
Though each family has a lowprice alarm clock and as a rule keeps it wound and is respectful of it, the clock is almost invariably an hour or two fast or slow, and they are innocent of any time except the sun's.
Now, I don't know anything about the allegations surrounding Capa's "fakery" beyond what I've read on wikipedia, and I don't care. The point is this: there's some very bad scholarship out there. You can make a name for yourself tearing down, and you don't have to be very careful about it.
Curtis, for reference, is a vastly more respectable scholar than most of the people involved in tearing down in this modern era of the Internet.