Yesterday I noticed a couple of stories about one of the Obama daughters going to Mexico on a school trip, purportedly with 25 Secret Service agents in tow. Later when I went back, those stories were gone and the link re-directed either to the main page or a different story (click here and then click on the AFP story entitled “Obama’s daughter spends springbreak in Mexico” to see for yourself).
I assumed maybe they were pulled because the story just wasn’t true. Turns out there was more to it:
The AFP, the Huffington Post and other websites have scrubbed a report about first daughter Malia Obama’s school trip.
On Monday, the AFP reported that Obama’s daughter was on a school trip 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 .The AFP page for the story now links to a story titled “Senegal music star Youssou Ndour hits campaign trail,” as does the Yahoo page. The Huffington Post page now links directly back to the Huffington Post homepage. The Daily Mail, Telegraph, and Australian stories now lead to 404 error pages, reading “page not found.” The International Business Times story also links to the IBT homepage, though a version of the original story still exists online.
Kristina Schake, Communications Director to the First Lady, emails to confirm this was a White House effort:
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.
While I agree that any president’s kids should be off limits whenever possible for a lot of different reasons (although the Obama campaign seems to want it both ways), the speed at which the White House was able to get so many separate outlets to roll over and simultaneously obey their demand was unsurprising, and yet still a little disturbing.
Besides, the media in Mexico had already reported the story inside that country — you know, the one for which the US State Department has issued travel warnings up the ying-yang. You’d think that the least of the White House’s concern would be that HuffPo and AFP were carrying the story, but that the media in Mexico had already let the cat out of the bag.
By the way, there was just an earthquake down that way.