Eyebrows Raised Over Scrubbed Malia Mexico Story

Spring break article disappears

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 20, 2012 12:25 PM CDT

(Newser) – An article about Malia Obama's spring break is causing ripples across the World Wide Web: The story, which noted Malia's visit to Mexico with 12 classmates and 25 Secret Service agents, first appeared yesterday and then quickly disappeared, BuzzFeed explains. Links to most versions of the story were broken or redirected, with error messages taking the place of the article. The Blaze grabbed screenshots from several sites before the story was scrubbed. Predictably, eyebrows were raised, especially considering the State Department recently warned Americans against visiting Mexico—a detail that some felt made it legit to report on the teen's activity. Reactions:

  • "This unfolding incident ... seems to indicate the White House can get a wide range of sites to take down stories, even if it is just with gentle persuasion or appeals to some higher standard," writes Brian Doherty in Reason. "And that is highly unnerving."
  • Of course, if you read the State Department travel advisory, you'd know that there is no warning about Oaxaca, Malia's destination, and it's likely that AFP pulled its original story once that was pointed out, notes Mike Masnick on TechDirt. The story certainly "got blown out of proportion," but scrubbing every mention of the original article only made things worse. An explanation or correction "would have been much more effective."
A White House rep ultimately explained to Politico: "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."

President Barack Obama holds hands with his daughters Malia, left, and Sasha, right, as they leave Sea Life Park, a marine wildlife park, with family friends, Dec. 27, 2011, in Waimanalo, Hawaii.
President Barack Obama holds hands with his daughters Malia, left, and Sasha, right, as they leave Sea Life Park, a marine wildlife park, with family friends, Dec. 27, 2011, in Waimanalo, Hawaii.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
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