Is honeymoon with Obama over already?

January 2, 2009

obama-boards-planeU.S. President-elect Barack Obama’s 12-day vacation in Hawaii exposed tensions with the media that presage a possible combative relationship between a Democratic Obama White House and mainstream U.S. news organizations, which were often accused by Republicans of being too soft on him during the election campaign.

In short, the media organizations are pushing for greater access. They were annoyed that he appeared in public places on several occasions during the holiday without his traveling media pool, which by long-standing agreement between successive White Houses and the major news organizations always shadows presidents and presidents-elect.

The Obama camp, in turn, appeared irritated by criticism by some media outlets that the president-elect had deliberately ditched the pool the day after Christmas, when he took his daughters, Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, to see a dolphin show. Aides said it was an honest mistake and blamed a breakdown in communication.

Some observers interpreted the trip as a sign he was chafing at the media scrutiny of his every move and was trying to enjoy some last semblance of normality with his daughters before entering the White House on Jan. 20.

Earlier in the week, paparazzi photographers snapped a shirtless Obama and his wife and daughters in their bathing suits outside their vacation home, and later Obama scattering the ashes of his beloved grandmother into the sea in what was meant to be a private moment.

The criticism over the waterpark visit clearly stung. The same day, the media pool was made to wait for hours into the night outside Obama’s compound in the midst of a 12-hour power cut that blacked out the Hawaiian island of Oahu. For the first time, aides declined to call a “lid,” jargon for signaling
he is staying in for the night.

Several media organizations have since argued that when Obama played on a public golf course, visited the waterpark and later took his daughters to the zoo, the traveling media pool should have been allowed to accompany him, instead of being kept out of sight of him while members of the public had free access to take pictures.

Obama aides counter he is not yet president and was on vacation with his young family. The president-elect made a point on the return flight home from Hawaii to Chicago on Thursday to wish the journalists traveling with him a happy New Year and say he hoped they had found some time to enjoy themselves.

Whatever the merits of both arguments, it is clear that the first 100 days of Obama’s administration will be a time for both sides to test boundaries and try to establish a working relationship.

It may also be it has all been a storm in a teacup during a slow news period, because after he takes office on Jan. 20, Obama is likely to be straitjacketed into a tight schedule that will leave little time for surprise visits to waterparks or zoos.

Reuters/Hugh Gentry (Barack Obama and wife, Michelle, board plane)

15 comments

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He was one on vacation and secondly not yet The President, therefore the media has no right to be mad there were errors on both sides.

Play nice guys!!

I can’t get over how the media feels it is their right to chase and photograph anyone and anything they want. Give the guy a break, he’s on vacation and is about to start one of the most stressful jobs in the world.

Posted by Eric H | Report as abusive

Actually, he is no longer a private person. He was elected president and as all presidents before him, he is going to receive attention he like he never has before.

It seems that everyone makes exceptions for Obama. Change the rules for him. Like it or not, it comes with the job, vacation or not.

When Bush went to Crawford for vacation, the reporters relentlessly infested the town of (750 or so people), hoisted themselves on high lifts, etc. just to get a story. But the apologists for Obama never said a word about it then, but do now.

As for the Clinton’s they enjoyed being the center of attention, so they were in a league all to themselves.

All I know is that Bush responded with grace and class and never lashed out at his critics. Something else the liberal left conveniently ignores.

Obama gets testy and that is likely a preview of what we are in for.

He asked for the job, now he gets all the privileges (good or bad) that come with the job. He should quit whining and accept he no longer has privacy. Like all presidents before him.

Posted by TC | Report as abusive

The media hates Bush. But they gave him a fair shake until the Iraq invasion.

The media loves Obama (for now). It’ll take something more than not being invited to the dolphin show to turn them into rabid dogs…

Posted by Patrick Fuchs | Report as abusive

“Honeymoon Over Already?” headline because the press can’t live under the president-elect’s bed? You are all disgusting. Cut it out. Try to remember why you became journalists and give us what we so badly need — real ones. It takes courage and honesty and intelligence. This is garbage and an idiotic headline.

Posted by confetti | Report as abusive

Actually TC my point was that I don’t need to see pictures of Obama at the water park or of Bush down on the ranch, it’s not news. It’s a lack of respect by the press in both cases.
As for Bush not lashing out at his critics, ask Scott McClellan, Paul O’Neil, Joe Wilson/Valarie Plame or Colin Powell about how that works.

Posted by Eric H | Report as abusive

How silly…. The Israeli’s have laid siege to occupy and steal more lives and land from the Gaza. When are they planning to leave? 2011? It is suggested that Bush, et al is behind this. It is his M.O.S. Does he want to serve a third term? Probably, but… NEVER will happen. You people are out there arguing about what “the Press” gets to do, did, has done, will do, will get to do. As, I said, how silly, and how petty. Like it or not, the Palestinians do have rights to a STATE. So, while you are arguing over nonsense, and the press that has hurt, killed and maimed too many people with their voices and cameras, and who have remained mostly silent for 8 years, you worry about them> Guess what? If Bush and others get their way you will have a new nuclear war to worry about. Go back to university. Oh! that is right no one can afford it for the bankruptcy of the US and besides there are no funds. So, I guess gossip will be the thing to do. You are doing it, aren’t you?

He saw how the media pounded and ruined Bush, and Sara Palin …so he knows better than to get too close to them

Posted by old ewok | Report as abusive

bottom line there was no domestic news over the holidays and the media has milked all it could out of the blagojevich story.

had there been news this wouldn’t be an issue, also i don’t think the American people are interested in what the pres elect did on his holiday as much as the media is in getting the story.

Posted by autoprt | Report as abusive

I totally agree with the comment about this story having and “idiotic” headline. Reuters is guilty of using many such idiotic headlines in their stories. I guess the need to compete with CNN and others for our eyeballs is too great. The world is not coming to an end, despite the impression one gets from scanning your home page!

Posted by Merrill Grinch | Report as abusive

Reporters need to stop whining. Give the new guy a break. If the press had done its job during the last eight years, we wouldn’t be where we are now. How was it that so few reporters could find anything to write about Veep Cheney all those years? And you whine because the President-elect went for ice cream cones with his daughters? Wake up. If the press really does its job, the public’s call for change might actually be be answered by effective government monitored honestly and fully by the media. It’s a new ball game; figure it out.

Posted by RJA | Report as abusive

Perhaps the media should do their job and focus on real stories going on in the world rather than acting like paparazzi following around a guy who isn’t even president yet.

Having utterly failed to keep the public informed of the back-room dealings that have resulted in the current economic crisis, it’s unsurprising that most ‘journalists’ continue to make themselves more irrelevant by going after low hanging fruit or by simply being mouthpieces of the establishment, repeating everything they’re told to repeat.

Posted by AndyM | Report as abusive

His honeymoon has gone on far too long as it is. He was elected because the media had him up on a pedastal. The Middle East is at war and all he has to say is “There is only one president at a time? He has no thought, reassurance or ideas to offer ?? How ridiculous is that !
Welcome to obamavoid the president who votes present on world crisis . Its 3 AM and he was on vacation ; he had better call Hillary !!

Posted by Swannie | Report as abusive

and btw It is the MEDIA S JOB to report on the president-select. HE needs to stop whining , he wanted the job !

Posted by Swannie | Report as abusive

There was no honeymoon.

He’s back pedaling as fast as he can right now. He said a lot of things and now people want him to deliver and guess what? He can’t. Duh!

Posted by Oren | Report as abusive