Over the weekend, I got a link to a story about Malia Obama heading off to Mexico for vacation with 12 friends and 25 Secret Service agents. The story is newsworthy because it implicates taxpayer concerns: Malia is going to a nation that the State Department warns is dangerous, and Americans are footing the bill for the 25 federal employees who are necessary to offset that danger. I know that these Secret Service agents are on the payroll regardless, but feeding and lodging them outside of Washington, D.C. becomes the taxpayers’ burden. (In the same way, Obama’s little basketball jaunt with PM Cameron cost the taxpayers an extra $478,000 over the regular fixed costs in the “taking care of POTUS” budget.)
You’ll notice that I haven’t included the link to the story about Malia Obama’s trip. That’s because, by the time I received the email with the link to the Malia vacation story, the great white-out had begun. As I, and every other sentient web-using being had noticed, the story about Malia Obama was melting away as quickly as the wet Wicked Witch of the West. Those of us trying to find a solid link for the story felt as if we were playing a bizarre version of whack-a-mole. The links would pop up for a second, only to vanish again.
The big question, of course, was why? Why is an apparently properly sourced story vanishing? If it was false, one would expect White House push-back, with the news sources either denying the White House’s arguments or issuing apologies for their error. A vanishing story, however, has been a first. And now the truth has come out. The White House told the news agencies that it’s not fair to report on the kids:
The White House has admitted to telling news agencies to pull stories on Malia Obama visiting the Mexico for spring break, Politico reports.
Kristina Schake, Communications Director to the First Lady, emailed Dylan Byers:
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.