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‘A Little Bizarre’: Media Ethics Experts Question Scrubbing of Malia Obama Spring Break Story
http://www.theblaze.com ^

Posted on 03/20/2012 12:17:25 PM PDT by Lucky9teen

Story Highlights:

White House admits to asking media outlets to scrub Malia Obama spring break story Media ethics experts see outlets’ response as “a little bizarre” and “outside of standard practice” Experts agree that a story clarification would have been a viable substitute to ensure the public’s trust in media Malia’s trip leads to a number of journalistic questions surrounding government resources and citizen safety

On Monday, a curious pattern was observed and documented on The Blaze. Stories about Malia Obama – Barack and Michelle Obama’s eldest daughter — and her purported spring break trip to Oaxaca, Mexico, were mysteriously disappearing from various outlets’ web sites. Did Media Follow Journalistic Ethics in Covering Malias Mexico Trip?

President Obama with daughters Sasha (left) and Malia (right) (AP)

From The Telegraph to The Huffington Post, numerous news sites essentially deleted related stories, creating plenty of questions among observers. Following the removals, It didn’t take long for the Obama administration to admit to asking the media to scrub the stories. Earlier today, The Blaze spoke with Kelly McBride of The Poynter Institute and Jane E. Kirtley, a professor of media ethics and law at the University of Minnesota Law School, to gain expert insight on the ethics issues associated with this scenario.

(Related: White House Admits to Asking News Agencies to Pull Malia Obama Vacation Story)

As The Blaze has noted, the First Lady’s communications director, Kristina Schake, explained that the White House has requested, since the beginning of the Obama presidency, that the children not be photographed or reported on when they are without their parents. While this request is understandable, the sociopolitical situation in Mexico and the rapid removal of stories about Malia creates a litany of questions about media ethics and the appropriateness of outlets’ responses.

Did Media Follow Journalistic Ethics in Covering Malias Mexico Trip?

“It doesn‘t surprise me that the White House would request that journalists not cover the spring break of the president’s daughter,” McBride explained. “It surprises me that [outlets] would just take the stories down.”

Rather than simply removing the pieces, McBride said that the media could have replaced them with a note that fully explained that a decision had been made to respect the private affairs of Obama’s family members. The decision to remove them, she says, could potentially lead to public distrust.

(Related: Rick Santorum Reacts to Obama Allowing Daughter to Vacation in Mexico: ‘Set an Example’)

McBride also argues that the incident could “feed conspiracy theory,“ as the decision was ”outside of standard practice.” In she end, she contended that the removal “causes a different type of harm to the [news] organizations.”

“Part of the problem is that it leaves the audience wondering what type of power the Office of the President has over the media,” she continued. “I think that if you’re transparent and you say, ‘We’re not going to cover [Obama's] 13-year-old daughter’s trip to Mexico, but we are going to cover the president’s affiliations, associations, etc.,’ then I think the audience can have some sort of assuredness that the media loyalty remains with the audience and not with the president.”

Glenn Beck discussed his take on Malia’s trip on his radio show this morning:

Kirtley reflected these same sentiments, calling the removals “a little bizarre” and claiming that it is “virtually impossible” for media outlets to take something back once it’s been published. A correction, she agreed, would have been the best way to handle the situation.

“The piece that seems strange is that they’re removing the story. It isn’t so much that the White House yelled at them…that kind of back and forth between the media and the White House is common,” she explained. “For me, the question is, ‘Why did these news organizations take out the stories?‘ It’s an act of futility and I simply don’t see the justification of it.”

When asked if the media that did decide to keep the article online were violating any ethical standards by publishing the piece, McBride said that they were not, as the agreement that exists between media and the White House is an informal one. This “gentlemans’ agreement,” of course, is the notion that journalists will refrain from covering the president’s children in specified or compromising situations.

This morning, The Blaze’s Editor-in-Chief Scott Baker addressed the media ethics issues associated with this story on Beck’s radio show as well:

“It’s not written down anywhere and nobody signs a contract. Once a story is out there it’s impossible to figure out who would be governed by this gentleman’s agreement,” McBride explained. “I think it’s fine to enter into such agreements as long as members of the media can maintain their own independent judgment.”

In addition to questions surrounding the media‘s reaction to the White House’s “reminder,” as Schake referred to the government’s interactions with various outlets following reports about Malia, questions about a U.S. State Department travel warning have also run rampant.

In February, the government issued a warning to Americans that proclaimed that “homicide, gun battles, kidnapping, carjacking and highway robbery” are all currently serious risks when traveling throughout portions of Mexico. It is important to note there is currently no warning in effect for Oaxaca, the location where Malia purportedly visited (or is currently visiting), however, there have been concerns about that area in the past.

In speaking about the State Department warning, McBride seemed to indicate that it wasn’t enough, in itself, to definitively warrant a story. But she went on to explain that it is understandable for reporters to ask other viable questions about the practicality and cost of the trip.

“It is reasonable to ask if it is an appropriate use of resources to send 25 Secret Service agents to guard a 13-year-old in Mexico and her entourage,” she said.

Kirtley, though, did seem to think that the State Department angle could make for a legitimate journalistic discussion.

Did Media Follow Journalistic Ethics in Covering Malias Mexico Trip?

“To me, that’s a legitimate discussion. I respect the idea that children, as a general proposition, might need to be off limits. Not saying I agree with it, but I respect it,” she explained. “From the perspective about issues of safety for American citizens…I think this is a legitimate question about whether one of Obama’s children might be at risk…if they’re confident she’s not what steps are they taking to ensure her safety?”

In speaking specifically about journalistic ethics, Kirtley said that she personally sees no problem with reporters covering the fact that Obama’s daughter may have gone to Mexico with some friends.

“This is always tricky in the context in children,” she said. “There are different ways that one could approach the story. Would I be providing real time coverage about route of travel? Probably not. There’s no need to know those details.”

So it seems the question on experts‘ minds is why the media so willingly and quickly removed stories about President Obama’s daughter. With the collective journalistic enterprise in America acting as the nation’s Fourth Estate, this willingness, despite no official mandate governing relations between the press and federal government, does raise important questions.


TOPICS: Chit/Chat; Conspiracy; Travel
KEYWORDS: media; obama; scrubbing
This story has nothing to do with Obama's daughter, but everything to do with another example of how the Obama's are living like "Kings" on the taxpayer dime....and how the lapdog media, are just scrubbing the truth.
1 posted on 03/20/2012 12:17:36 PM PDT by Lucky9teen
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To: Lucky9teen

The media’s response was embarrassing to them. They should be ashamed to call themselves journalists. Maybe, journOlist, but definitely not journalists.


2 posted on 03/20/2012 12:24:29 PM PDT by FreeAtlanta (Liberty and Justice for ALL)
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To: FreeAtlanta; Lucky9teen

Sorry, I should read, “the media’s response should be embarrassing to themselves”

There was no reason to scrub the story other than to protect Barack Obama from a very embarrassing story.


3 posted on 03/20/2012 12:26:09 PM PDT by FreeAtlanta (Liberty and Justice for ALL)
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To: Lucky9teen

the mainstream news media is the fourth branch of government


4 posted on 03/20/2012 12:27:57 PM PDT by KTM rider
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To: Lucky9teen
Media ethics experts see outlets’ response as “a little bizarre” and “outside of standard practice”

That all depends upon which of the standard practices you apply:
1. Standard Media Ethics for Conservatives
2. Standard Media Ethics for Democrats

5 posted on 03/20/2012 12:30:13 PM PDT by SampleMan (Feral Humans are the refuse of socialism.)
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To: Lucky9teen

I strongly suspect that it is the Secret Service intervening in this case. Their resources to protect in Oaxaca are not so great that they could not be overwhelmed by a large enough force. And there are a number of such forces in Mexico.

However, if this is the case they should have intervened from the start to tell Obama that Mexico is pretty much a no-go as far as recreation. If it is to Mexico City for official business, that is okay, because there would be Mexican security in addition. But tourism? Bad idea.

This being said, if Obama insisted, they only thing they could do would try and “soft pedal” the publicity surrounding the visit. Hopefully the vacation would be over before the bad guys could get their act together.


6 posted on 03/20/2012 12:32:42 PM PDT by yefragetuwrabrumuy ("It is already like a government job," he said, "but with goats." -- Iranian goat smuggler)
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To: Lucky9teen

Malia was in Oaxaca where there was a 7.6 earthquake today. Does anyone think the media will “scrub” the story?


7 posted on 03/20/2012 12:33:12 PM PDT by MeganC (No way in Hell am I voting for Mitt Romney. Not now, not ever. Deal with it.)
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To: Lucky9teen

And now michele’s press secretary has put out a statement..awww.

Malia is fine....from her ‘SCHOOL TRIP’ in Mexico.

It went from vacation (not allowed to be reported on) to a ‘school trip’ in a country the State Dept warned Americans not to go..

Weird how that all works, eh?


8 posted on 03/20/2012 12:37:07 PM PDT by Freddd (NoPA ngineers.)
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To: Lucky9teen

I don’t care if she is in Mexico or whatever. I do care if she is using our money.


9 posted on 03/20/2012 12:39:47 PM PDT by freekitty (Give me back my conservative vote; then find me a real conservative to vote for)
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To: MeganC

Should have been a non-story. Knowing Obama, it was leaked to the media so they would report on it then Obama shows his humane side by asking the media not to report on it.

Then they blame Fox News.


10 posted on 03/20/2012 12:40:34 PM PDT by EQAndyBuzz (Solyent Pink is Sheeple!!!!)
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To: Lucky9teen

She was wearing a T-shirt with a large broken cross on the front.


11 posted on 03/20/2012 12:40:45 PM PDT by BenLurkin (This is not a statement of fact. It is either opinion or satire; or both)
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To: MeganC

Why did Free Republic scrap the story?


12 posted on 03/20/2012 12:41:58 PM PDT by dragonblustar (Allah Ain't So Akbar!)
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To: MeganC
Malia was in Oaxaca where there was a 7.6 earthquake today. Does anyone think the media will “scrub” the story?

I wonder how it will play if the Secret Service sweeps Little MAO out of Mexico and leaves the rest of the Sidwell girls to the risks in an active earthquake zone?

13 posted on 03/20/2012 12:42:25 PM PDT by Never on my watch (I'd rather light a candle than curse the flatulence.)
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To: yefragetuwrabrumuy

You don’t need to suspect anything. We know. It was Michelle Obama’s office that acted to take down the stories. Not the Secret Service.


14 posted on 03/20/2012 12:44:48 PM PDT by DManA
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To: Lucky9teen

Malia? Is that an Islamic name? I would have thought he would have called his daughters something like “Marxia” or “Leninia” or “Stalinia”.


15 posted on 03/20/2012 12:45:35 PM PDT by GrandJediMasterYoda (All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing - Edmund Burke)
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To: Lucky9teen

Malia? Is that an Islamic name? I would have thought he would have called his daughters something like “Marxia” or “Leninia” or “Stalinia”.


16 posted on 03/20/2012 12:45:55 PM PDT by GrandJediMasterYoda (All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing - Edmund Burke)
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To: Lucky9teen

It is perfectly obvious to me that they are more concerned about the “optics” of this trip than they are the safety of this child.


17 posted on 03/20/2012 12:51:05 PM PDT by DManA
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To: GrandJediMasterYoda

No, Malia is a Hawaiian name.


18 posted on 03/20/2012 12:53:51 PM PDT by madison10
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To: GrandJediMasterYoda

Malice / Malia......ode to Alinsky and his future plans for America.


19 posted on 03/20/2012 12:54:30 PM PDT by liberalh8ter (Barack has a memory like a steel trap; it's a gift ~ Michelle Obama)
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To: Lucky9teen

Who paid for this trip?


20 posted on 03/20/2012 12:57:26 PM PDT by fso301
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To: GrandJediMasterYoda

That’s the eldest girl. Sasha. Nice American name. Isn’t it?


21 posted on 03/20/2012 12:58:47 PM PDT by rawcatslyentist (Mohammedan law every woman must belong to a man will delay the end of slavery until Islam has ceased)
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To: Lucky9teen
This was a test to see which media outlets would agree to follow Herr Obama's orders.

It could also be proof that they have done it before. If the command was "scrub the internet of truth about Barack-Barry Obama", many of the "journalists" did exactly as they were told.

22 posted on 03/20/2012 12:59:41 PM PDT by arasina (So there.)
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To: freekitty
I'm thinking Air Force One and limos, plus escort planes, hotels, food etc.

Who is reporting the true cost of this kid's vacation?

23 posted on 03/20/2012 1:04:45 PM PDT by LADY J (You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have. - Author Unknown)
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To: Lucky9teen

MEDIA ETHIC’S !!!
Those words don’t even belong together.....Kinna like:
Military Intelligence
Jumbo Shrimp
Business Ethics

STUPID SH!T !!!


24 posted on 03/20/2012 1:05:54 PM PDT by MtnMan101 (THE PROBLEM WITH SOCIALISUM IS THAT YOU EVENTUALLY RUN OUT OF OTHER PEOPLE'S MONEY)
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To: Lucky9teen

I think this story is great! It draws a sharp relief to how the media treated the Bush twins, and how they treated the Palin children.


25 posted on 03/20/2012 1:08:36 PM PDT by Cyber Liberty ("If the past sits in judgment on the present, the future will be lost." --Winston Churchill)
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To: Lucky9teen

The Bush Twins were under a microscope - the media didn’t give them any privacy. If Obama’s daughter takes a trip to Mexico with Secret Service at taxpayer expense then we have a right to know about it. If security was such an over-riding concern then she shouldn’t have gone. As for the MSM, yet another example of their increasingly large and hypocritical double-standard.


26 posted on 03/20/2012 1:14:17 PM PDT by Rummyfan (Iraq: it's not about Iraq anymore, it's about the USA!)
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To: Never on my watch

THe question is who are the other kids? Better yet, who are the parents of these other children?


27 posted on 03/20/2012 1:17:27 PM PDT by taterjay
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To: BenLurkin

She was wearing a T-shirt with a large broken cross on the front.


SAY WHAT!?!?


28 posted on 03/20/2012 1:22:55 PM PDT by txhurl (Thank you, Andrew Breitbart. In your untimely passing, you have exposed these people one last time.)
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To: Lucky9teen

When they are traveling on my DIME I want a full report 24/7! These morons are thieves!


29 posted on 03/20/2012 1:23:46 PM PDT by Doc Savage ("I've shot people I like a lot more,...for a lot less!" Raylan Givins)
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To: Lucky9teen

The weird part is that a few hours after the scrub a 7.6 earthquake hit a 100 miles away and even with the 24/7 news cycle noone is mentioning that Malia was 100 miles away from the earthquake.


30 posted on 03/20/2012 1:24:48 PM PDT by douginthearmy (Obamagebra: 1 job + 1 hope + 1 change = 0 jobs + 0 hope)
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To: MtnMan101

“MEDIA ETHIC’S !!! Those words don’t even belong together”

Media “ethics” no longer exist, the gay takeover of mainstream media has seen to that.
(WELL documentd on FR over the years.)

Can you just imagine the amount of faked media outrage we’d be treated to had GEORGE BUSH asked the media to not cover the escapades of his daughters??


31 posted on 03/20/2012 1:28:27 PM PDT by tcrlaf (Election 2012: THE RAPTURE OF THE DEMOCRATS)
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To: tcrlaf

BREITBART IS HERE


32 posted on 03/20/2012 1:40:32 PM PDT by txhurl (Thank you, Andrew Breitbart. In your untimely passing, you have exposed these people one last time.)
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To: rawcatslyentist
Sasha. Nice American name. Isn’t it?

Seriously? What's wrong with Sasha? Do you have an approved list of American names? Sasha is a far better girl's name than Stanley.

I really honestly think Obama may be one of the worst presidents in history and I believe that he is fundamentally unAmerican in his worldview and politics. But for the life of me I can't get into my head how a person can post the statement you made.

33 posted on 03/20/2012 1:43:09 PM PDT by douginthearmy (Obamagebra: 1 job + 1 hope + 1 change = 0 jobs + 0 hope)
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To: txhurl

34 posted on 03/20/2012 1:43:43 PM PDT by BenLurkin (This is not a statement of fact. It is either opinion or satire; or both)
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To: Lucky9teen

“Media Ethics” - seems a bit like “Jumbo Shrimp” or pick your favorite oxymoron.


35 posted on 03/20/2012 1:46:34 PM PDT by 2 Kool 2 Be 4-Gotten
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To: Lucky9teen

“Did Media Follow Journalistic Ethics in Covering Malias Mexico Trip? “

Huh? What?

“The decision to remove them, she says, could potentially lead to public distrust.”

Er, that horse ran out of the barn decades ago.


36 posted on 03/20/2012 1:53:54 PM PDT by lowbridge (Rep. Dingell: "Its taken a long time.....to control the people.")
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To: yefragetuwrabrumuy
I strongly suspect that it is the Secret Service intervening in this case.

I didn't participate in yesterday's thread, so I'm putting my thoughts here.

Regarding the thought that the Secret Service did this, did the Secret Service hide the news when Hillary and Chelsea Clinton went to South Africa on a trip? No.

It's not being scrubbed for protection. It's being scrubbed because it's the worst yet example of the Obama family acting like royalty on the national treasury.

It was outrageous when Michelle Obama went to Spain with the entourage that she had.

This is worse because it's at the command of the 13-year-old daughter.

The Obamas don't want the public to be reminded of their largesse during the run-up to the election.

-PJ

37 posted on 03/20/2012 1:54:03 PM PDT by Political Junkie Too (If you can vote for President, then your children can run for President.)
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To: Political Junkie Too

“This is worse because it’s at the command of the 13-year-old daughter.”

And I imagine at some point we’ll hear about little Sasha having the Secret Service round up all the furry little rats on the White House grounds for a hanging. (Czarist Russian reference).


38 posted on 03/20/2012 2:00:17 PM PDT by 21twelve
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To: Lucky9teen
As these sorts of things usually go, the White House managed to turn a small bad story into a bigger badder story, that's even more difficult to ignore.

I mean, the NY Times and CBS News can continue to ignore it, but most outlets still pretend to impartiality.

39 posted on 03/20/2012 2:05:25 PM PDT by dead (I've got my eye out for Mullah Omar.)
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