Photographers, Obama at Odds Over First Daughter Pictures


U.S. President Barack Obama's daughter Sasha waves to him from the Truman Balcony after he arrived on the south lawn of the White House via Marine One May 14, 2009 in Washington, DC. Obama was returning from a trip to Arizona and New Mexico. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

OK so no one wants the Obama girls hounded by papparazzi, but the Obama administration's tight control on when it is and isn't OK to take their pictures is getting a tad ridiculous.

U.S. President Barack Obama's youngest daughter Sasha stands outside of the Dairy Godmother frozen custard shop on June 20, 2009 in the Del Ray section of in Alexandria, Virginia. (Photo by Pool/Getty Images North America) more pics >>
When President Barack Obama arrived back at the White House after a trip to the Southwest last month, daughter Sasha came out onto the Truman balcony to greet her father with a wave and a smile. Press photographers caught the warm moment on film, but were asked by the administration not to distribute the shots.

Now for the most part, press agencies have gone out of their way to accomodate Barack and Michelle's requests for privacy when it comes to Sasha and Malia. But this time several photographers ignored the wishes of the White House and distributed the photos anyway. (Obviously, because how else would we have them? Oh and aren't they cute?)

To give the event some context, the Associated Press reportedly refused to distribute an official White House photo of the Obama girls on their first day of school. It's the photo-journalism equivalent of running an official press release as an article in a newspaper.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, when the AP describes the ice cream photo-op:
Weeks later, when Obama took his daughters for ice cream the Saturday before Father's Day, photographers were permitted to provide family friendly pictures to cable news networks and newspaper front pages. The popular Parade magazine put a candid shot of the First Family on its cover the same weekend, illustrating an article about fatherhood that the White House had suggested.

The two events reflect both the First Family's insistence on raising their young daughters away from the spotlight of the White House and their penchant for carefully using them to bolster the president's political image.

"He's going to try to have it both ways until and unless people start to question his value system and his sincerity in playing that role," said Gerald Shuster, a political communications expert at the University of Pittsburgh.
It's hard to figure out exactly where the line should be drawn with coverage of the Obama girls. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs says it boils down to the nature of the event where the photograph is taken.

"If the children are participating in official events with the president and first lady, then they're part of the first family," he said. "But when the children are alone, or when the president and first lady are in their roles strictly as mother and father, there should be a wide berth of privacy extended to the family."

The worst part about all this is that it's only going to get worse. Demand for photos of the first daughters will likely only go up as they venture into their teenage years. Hopefully the Obamas can figure out a solution at some point along the way.

  • President Obama Takes His Daughters Out For Frozen Custard
  • President Obama Takes His Daughters Out For Frozen Custard
  • President Obama Takes His Daughters Out For Frozen Custard
  • President Obama Takes His Daughters Out For Frozen Custard
  • President Obama Takes His Daughters Out For Frozen Custard
  • President Obama Takes His Daughters Out For Frozen Custard
  • President Obama Takes His Daughters Out For Frozen Custard
  • President Obama Takes His Daughters Out For Frozen Custard

I write about movies for Zimbio.com, which means I spend way too much time thinking about the geekiest possible ways to approach the cineplex. I'm also hopelessly addicted to audio books. Follow me: Google
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