Obama tries to have it both ways with media

Press banned from photographing Sasha and Malia at the White House

A free press is all well and good, but not when it comes to the children of President Barack Obama, who has introduced unprecedented rules about which pictures we see of Sasha, eight, and Malia, 10, and which ones we don't.

It was several weeks ago, for instance, when photographers on the White House grounds captured the President waving extravagantly at Sasha standing on the Truman Balcony. Great pictures, to be sure, but the press office instantly requested that news agencies not distribute them.

The Obamas are confronting the same dilemma that faced many first families before them. Nothing endears a nation to its leader more than family snapshots. Even Abraham Lincoln acquiesced to a portrait with his son Tad, eight, at a small table. Few photographs are more beloved than the one of JFK Jr and Caroline playing in the Oval Office. On the other hand, the President and the First Lady want to protect the girls from prying paparazzi.

Thus, all credentialed photographers have been told that the girls are fair game only when they are at formal events. Otherwise, prying lenses should stay away, even when they are on the White House grounds.

To reduce the market for paparazzi shots, the White House puts out photos taken by its own photographer. But these are posted only in low resolution. Editors who want to use them have to ask for a high resolution version and it is up to spokesman Robert Gibbs to grant or deny those requests.

If Mr Obama wants to protect the children from being exploited by a voracious modern-day media, he may find himself treading close to being accused of exploiting them himself, with such a controlled drip-drip of images designed to extract maximum political advantage at the lowest parental cost.

"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," notes Gerald Shuster, a political communications expert at the University of Pittsburgh.

The girls, meanwhile, may be discovering the downside of having to stay clear of the paparazzi, having to think twice, for example, before venturing even as far as their climbing frame.

The President whose name is attached to the Truman balcony brought his daughter to Washington, but Margaret Truman loathed the bubble-life she found herself living thanks to her father, Harry, and famously called the executive mansion the Great White Jail.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Client Services Executive - Enfield, North London

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Client Services Executive - Enfield, North London ...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executive - Call Centre Jobs

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Lancashire - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn