Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Now top secret: Malia Obama's spring break in Mexico

Yesterday, there were numerous reports giving account of 13-year-old Malia Obama spending spring break in Mexico with a dozen friends and a large contingent of Secret Service agents.

Today? The stories have all but disappeared. Dylan Byers at Politico.com notes:
On Monday, the AFP reported that Obama's daughter was vacationing abroad, along with a number of friends and 25 Secret Service agents. The story was picked up by Yahoo, the Huffington Post, and the International Business Times, as well as UK publications like the Daily Mail and the Telegraph and other overseas publications like The Australian. 
But on Monday night, the story had been removed from those sites.
What gives? Has some kind of security threat to the first daughter triggered a media blackout? Or does the White House have other reasons to hush things up?
In a time when many Americans struggle to keep their homes, feed their families, and top off their gas tanks, sending a young teen on a foreign vacation with a dozen friends might seem a bit overindulging to most U.S. voters. Though appearances of overindulgence in vacations and getaways have never embarrassed the Obamas before, this is an election year.

Update: Politico's post has been updated with an email from the First Lady's Communication's Director:
From the beginning of the administration, the White House has asked news outlets not to report on or photograph the Obama children when they are not with their parents and there is no vital news interest. We have reminded outlets of this request in order to protect the privacy and security of these girls.
Earlier this month, Mr. Obama referenced his daughters in his comments to Sandra Fluke, employing their image in a vilification of Rush Limbaugh. The White House allows the daughters to be referenced when it coincides with Michelle Obama's appearance on Nick TV's iCarly to push a White House PR program.

So it's apparently okay for the White House to make Malia and Sasha public figures when it suits Daddy's  political needs, it's just off limits when one's seen in the act of indulging in an extravagant (by most Americans means) foreign vacation with 25 Secret Service members in tow.

One more thing, when did the media allow the White House to dictate what's a vital news interest and what's not?  Perhaps allowing a 13-year-old to vacation abroad sans parents tells us something we should know about the family in now occupying the White House.

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