As State Department Warns Americans Away, Obama’s Daughter Spends Spring Break in Mexico – And Administration Slams the Lid on the Story
April 17, 2012
First, let’s get this out of the way. Snopes.com has confirmed this: http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/maliamexico.asp
Not only did President and Mrs. Obama send their daughter to Mexico, on two jets and accompanied by 25 Secret Service Agents, but the White House instituted an international cover-up, forcing major English-language news media to pull the story (for “security” reasons), even while the trip was absolutely no secret in Mexico. Here’s that story: http://www.wtam.com/cc-common/news/sections/newsarticle.html?feed=104668&article=9921576
Mexico is under a State Department interdict because of the incredible level of drug violence and raw terrorism – which may explain the 25-member Secret Service detail which accompanied the First Daughter. Yet those warnings don’t apply to the Obamas – rather than limit travel, they just pile on the number of Secret Service agents who went with their daughter. This speaks to the arrogance of power, and the total lack of concern among the Obamas for our taxpayer money (do you have any idea what it costs to send two private jets and 25 Secret Service agents – not to mention the advance team – to a foreign country, especially one wracked with turmoil and terrorism?).
But the real story is the cover-up. The White House first forced a variety of very heavy-duty media to pull the story (all in the name of “security,” even though any Mexican terrorists who might have been interested knew when she was coming, and what she was doing while she was there). Then, when Politico broke that story, the White House leaned on Politico to expurgate the story – in effect, censoring a story about heavy-handed government censorship. Of course, the censorship is “voluntary.” Of course.
This voluntary censorship included the French news wire service, Yahoo, the HuffPo, the Australian, International Business Times, the Daily Mail and the Telegraph – all “major league” news media. Yet Mexican Tourism officials conceded that the news was never secret in Mexico, because the town they went to was too small to hide a group of 13 tourist students, 25 Secret Service agents, two jets guarded night and day at the airport, a major downtown hotel blocked off from other guests for security, and many more obvious signals that the First Daughter was there.
If they just used their own money, I’d have no issue where the Obamas send their daughter to party over Spring Break. However, I strongly object to the massive infusion of tax dollars into such a pointless excess (isn’t Daytona Beach good enough for the First Daughter’s Spring Break party?) – especially sending her to a country our own State Department warns US citizens to avoid (unless, of course, they can take 25 Secret Service agents with them). Even more, I object to the heavy-handed news blackout, keeping everybody EXCEPT potential Mexican terrorists in the dark about the news.
I agree that keeping the family out of sight is a laudable goal – it’s hard enough growing up without the media following you everywhere – but using “security” as an excuse to block coverage – and to further censor news coverage of the censorship – is going too far, IMO.
Claim: Malia Obama traveled to Mexico in March 2012.
Example:[Collected via e-mail, March 2012]
Did Malia Obama go to Mexico City on Spring break?
Origins: In March 2012, thirteen-year-old Malia Obama, the daughter of President Obama, traveled to Oaxaca, Mexico, on what was described in the press as both a “school trip” and a “spring break vacation”:
After weighing the risks of traveling to Mexico, the parents of one American teenager decided to allow her to join a school trip to Oaxaca, where students volunteered at an orphanage, visited archaeological sites and sipped vanilla milkshakes on the honey-colored town plaza.
The fact that the parents were President Obama and the first lady, Michelle Obama, and that the teenager was their daughter Malia, thrilled Mexican tourism officials, who are trying to redefine the country’s image as it has struggled with drug violence.
What would seem to be a rather mundane bit of news about a presidential family member became an item of interest when readers noticed that information about Malia’s trip had apparently disappeared from a number of online news sites. As Politicoreported on 20 March 2012, this redaction of information came at the behest of the White House:
The AFP, the Huffington Post and other websites have scrubbed a report about first daughter Malia Obama’s school trip.
On [19 March 2012], 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 [by that] 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, emailed 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.
Then, as BuzzFeed noted, even that Politico item was subsequently altered to remove some details, also at the behest of the White House:
The White House’s campaign to scrub a story from the internet yesterday about Malia Obama’s trip to Mexico has gone meta: a media reporter’s blog post about the administration’s efforts to scrub the story has now been scrubbed of certain details, Politico confirmed.
The item, by Politico’s Dylan Byers, originally noted that news sites were removing the Malia story.
Then the post was updated with comment from the White House confirming that it was involved with efforts to remove the story — but the Politico post itself was now missing information about the trip. Specifically, the current version of the story makes no reference to where the president’s daughter is going: Mexico, which can also be found by Googling Obama’s daughter’s name and “trip.”
Rachel Smolkin, Politico’s White House editor, confirmed that they removed the information after talking to the Obama administration, citing safety concerns.
“After some internal discussions and conversations with the White House, we adjusted the post for security reasons,” Smolkin told BuzzFeed.
According to the New York Times:
Although the White House asked English-language media to remove articles about the visit from their Web sites, the visit was never a secret in Mexico. “The reality is that Oaxaca isn’t that big and it isn’t that easy to hide 10 girls and that security,” said Mr. Zorrilla,the tourism official.