Selfie Control: The Media Loses Command of the Obama Image


Last week at the Nelson Mandela memorial service, our heroic President actually prevented an international incident on a world stage.. Because of his selfless actions of intervening in a photograph between Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt and UK Prime Minister David Cameron, President Barack Obama possibly even prevented a second battle of Copenhagen. It’s true because?the media said so.

And all he had to do was smile for the camera.

This has been the running narrative for the past five years in the story of Barack Obama that we are all allowed to live in. He’s the only President that within a span of a couple hours, can cause an international incident with our allies the Cubans and then prevent one with our enemies, Denmark.

Pro Obama web media thought they had their day’s work cut out for them when Barack Obama taking the stage to give his remarks on Mandela was confronted with a Castro brother’s open hand. But later that day, the image of Obama playing Belieber and Diplomat hit the web. President of the United States shamelessly taking selfies at a memorial funeral.

That’s when the alarms really went off.

When the image of Obama surfaced mid morning and began trending on Twitter, Dylan Byers and others went to threat level midnight and immediately lamented about new media cheapening Nelson Mandela’s memorial. What apparenlty never crossed Byer’s mind was where the blame for this situation actually belonged.

With Barack Obama.


If Obama had the self awareness to not act like a giddy teenager at a Bieber concert, the internet and new media doesn’t have its meme.

It’s that simple.

There had to be another explanation however as to why suddenly everyone on Twitter knew the name of the Danish Prime Minister. It’s the culture of new media… Viral politics is to blame. A society now more obsessed with meaningless vanity than policy.

The only problem is this is the world Obama’s celebrity obsessed media has created.

Byers was disgusted with a culture that his website and others like it, including networks have created. The Presidential culture of the perpetual persona.?They create and nurture a celebrity President then throw a collective hissy fit when the president is treated like a celebrity.When Dylan Byers and Politico plus others cite “New Media” they’re not talking about NBC, CBS, ABC or even Fox and CNN…

They’re talking about you.

How dare you have your own perceptions about a situation involving Barack Obama that Barack Obama himself created. The same web media blaming anyone with a meme generator or photoshop is the same media asking a week later after the rest of us have mostly moved on to other memes, if they themselves overreacted to it.

When it came out, several journalists on Twitter tried desperately to contain the Obama selfie moment to no avail. NY Post had it, Twitter had it and Buzzfeed ran with it which led to more pearl clutching from Byers. The narrative is everyone looks bad in this situation except the one person who is responsible for the entire incident.

The gatekeepers at Politico were apparently so traumatized by new media’s irresponsible actions that hours after the selfie was spread all over Twitter and therefore the world, they actually tried to switch the narrative back to the handshake with Raul Castro, *again*, *again*, and *again*and *again*. Reporters were in full activist mode defending President Selfie.?The reason being is because they knew out of the two incidents, which one was infinitely more damaging. I’ve written in the past about the cult of persona surrounding Barack Obama, that he is measured differently than Presidents before him because he is judged by the rules of pop culture and not politics. Image is everything and this is the culture the they have created.

When Barack Obama shakes hands with a ruthless communist, the majority of Americans just shrug. It would have been more shocking had he not done it. But when Barack Obama, the leading emissary of the free world, decides to turn an international memorial event into his first Sadie Hawkins Dance, the veil of who many of us suspect him of already being is revealed.?This went beyond one selfie. This was the chief representative of the United States acting like he was at a basketball game instead of a funeral.

This is why to the Obama palace guards on the web, comparing him to the most vilified American politician in history was a minor infraction as say comparing him to tone deaf megalomaniac more caught up in his own celebrity and turn at the podium than the solemn, quiet dignity of the man he was there to honor. For all the grief Michelle Obama took for her obvious unpleasantness with her husband’s antics, she represented the United States better than her husband did. Michelle Obama seemed to understand that Nelson Mandela was a figure of steady and quiet dignity. She understood the occasion as did our nation’s other representatives and former Presidents.

Only one person was caught on film repeatedly treating this occasion like a Rebecca Black video.

Once again Barack Obama looked like an unpolished amateur on the world stage, a President who either fails to realize that there a hundred cameras on him at any given moment or worse yet, just doesn’t seem to care. And once again because of his own actions, those in new media had to be trivialized and demonized.?

The activist media has crafted an image for Barack Obama and there are occurrences when the man steps outside of this image to a collective sigh from them; “Come on everyone, we have to set him straight.. Again”

Jonathan Capehart felt this incident was so meaningless that the next day he was decreeing it all as nonsense. Once again, Barack Obama himself was not responsible for his own actions, but that the entire world with access to social media was blowing it out of proportion. It went even further when Roberto Schmidt, the photographer who snapped the cozy moment between Cameron, Thorning-Schmidt and Obama said he was ‘ ashamed of all mankind ‘ for our reaction to it. So now Barack Obama is the unwilling victim of all of planet Earth. Why won’t the inhabitants of this planet just let Obama be Obama?

obama wave
So which is it? A meaningless incident blown out of proportion not worth the time and effort of old media or something so revealing that they have felt the need to spend over a week on it analyzing their own behavior?

The majority of new media users and Twitterers thought above all the incident was humorous and obnoxious above everything else. It was the progressive media that took most offense in all of this to the point to where it all had to be defended on television newscasts. Mind you this is the same progressive media that has set their collective snark on a Fox News host this past week for an off hand remark about the skin color of an imaginary character.

The reason for all of this is because network and print media who were always just slightly nudging liberal candidates in elections for years went head over heels in 2008. All in. They are invested in Obama’s success historically. This is as much their legacy as it is his. This was their candidate. They built him. Oprah cried. Jon Stewart cried.

Chris Matthews tingled.

One can only imagine the reasons for their sensitivity as of late. Obama sits somewhere between a 42% approval rating and being left somewhere in a run down saloon in Barstow. This is not a popular President anymore. Four years ago his speeches were receding ocean tides and filling stadiums. Now he just sells crappy health insurance.

obama-tapestry-us-embassy-london-1Like all celebrities, selfish antics are amusing and cool as long as the people buying magazines or voting think they are. Obama suffers from the same malady that George Clooney or Kanye West or Brad Pitt suffer from. They all want the attention and cameras but only in controlled environments and not from public paparazzi.

Ask Alec Baldwin how well this works out.

The Obama image machine is unlike anything seen since JFK and finally it seems some small faction of photojournalism is actually waking up to it.

The same week that Obama’s portrait was unveiled at the American Embassy in London, strategically placed right between Lincoln and Washington (subtle),?Santiago Lyon, Director of Photography of The Associated Press penned one of the most scathing, if not the most scathing OP Ed from the New York Times in Obama’s Presidency going as far as calling him Orwellian.

The column is a result of a long simmering feud with the Obama Administration and photojournalists who have had their access restricted or revoked all together, mainly to prevent images exactly like the famous selfie from leaking out. Jay Carney himself admitted as much last week:

When you see Pete Souza’s Christ like pictures from Obama’s events and speeches, it is not by accident. It is purposeful and deliberate and the selfie lapse in judgement from Obama during the Mandela memorial is exactly why.

From Obama’s early days campaigning in 2008 the people who surround him understand the propaganda game. Image is everything. Controlling the image and the media means controlling the narrative. It doesn’t matter who the person is or what they are even saying most of the time. What matters is the photograph. Obama is simply a vessel to project this.

Barack Obama will never allowed to be Barack Obama, whoever that actually is. He’s also not the only person who understands this.

nbcflotusAfter two elections we still don’t know which one is the real Obama. The dignified demigod waiting in a darkened tunnel to emerge to hundreds of flags and cheers or the giggling narcissist who was treating an international memorial like a much needed vacation?

The only person who knows for sure is
Michelle Obama.

– SM –

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  1. jd Reply

    I love how the press thinks a sternly worded letter will change anything in their relationship.

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