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Photog Apologizes For Catching Obama’s Selfie

From the Agence France Presse:

The story behind "that selfie"

By Roberto Schmidt | December 11, 2013

So here’s the photo, my photo, which quickly lit up the world’s social networks and news websites. The “selfie” of three world leaders who, during South Africa’s farewell to Nelson Mandela, were messing about like kids instead of behaving with the mournful gravitas one might expect…

I guess it’s a sign of our times that somehow this image seemed to get more attention than the event itself. Go figure…

A news photographer is complaining about his photograph making news. Go figure.

Obama took his place amid these leaders who’d gathered from all corners of the globe. Among them was British Prime Minister David Cameron, as well as a woman who I wasn’t able to immediately identify. I later learned it was the Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt…

At the time, I thought it must have been one of Obama’s many staffers.

And understandable mistake, since Obama treats everyone like staff.

Anyway, suddenly this woman pulled out her mobile phone and took a photo of herself smiling with Cameron and the US president…

So he is blaming the girl!

I captured the scene reflexively.

So don’t blame him or take away his press credentials.

All around me in the stadium, South Africans were dancing, singing and laughing to honour their departed leader. It was more like a carnival atmosphere, not at all morbid. The ceremony had already gone on for two hours and would last another two. The atmosphere was totally relaxed – I didn’t see anything shocking in my viewfinder, president of the US or not. We are in Africa…

So it was the perfectly natural thing to do. After all, it’s Africa.

I later read on social media that Michelle Obama seemed to be rather peeved on seeing the Danish prime minister take the picture. But photos can lie. In reality, just a few seconds earlier the first lady was herself joking with those around her, Cameron and Schmidt included. Her stern look was captured by chance…

Right. Which is why after the ‘Selfie’ Michelle switched seats with Obama, so that she would be sitting next to Ms. Thorning Schmidt. And then, Obama felt the need to kiss her hand.

I took these photos totally spontaneously, without thinking about what impact they might have. At the time, I thought the world leaders were simply acting like human beings, like me and you. I doubt anyone could have remained totally stony faced for the duration of the ceremony, while tens of thousands of people were celebrating in the stadium. For me, the behaviour of these leaders in snapping a selfie seems perfectly natural. I see nothing to complain about, and probably would have done the same in their place…

You see how objective our news media are? They aren’t apologists at all. No way.

It was interesting to see politicians in a human light because usually when we see them it is in such a controlled environment. Maybe this would not be such an issue if we, as the press, would have more access to dignitaries and be able to show they are human as the rest of us.

I confess too that it makes me a little sad we are so obsessed with day-to-day trivialities, instead of things of true importance.

Like the sad state of current ‘journalism.’  Which would be an embarrassment even to Tiger Beat.

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, December 11th, 2013. Comments are currently closed.

7 Responses to “Photog Apologizes For Catching Obama’s Selfie”

  1. BannedbytheTaliban says:

    “I doubt anyone could have remained totally stony faced for the duration of the ceremony”

    Seems to me Mrs. Obama did a pretty good job. Then again, that could just be her default demeanor.

  2. Astravogel says:

    If I’d had to sit four hours at a funeral for some fellow I didn’t know,
    with no bathroom break, I’d look like her too.

  3. canary says:

    After all the turned coward photographer Roberto Schmidt was born in Colombia. And since he’s lived in Africa for several years he has some authority on Africa being a country that parties to forget they can’t learn modern ways.

    While, Americans pay for this latest Obama vacation to party and try and get his picture taken with Castro, the one thing that is clear is Michelle is not happy.

    Roberto Schmidt would have released photo’s of Michelle smiling and having a jovial time if so.

    Question is if Michelle is unhappy with Obama’s childish behavior while he parties or because
    he is playing around with a blond white.

    Obama certainly wasn’t “ferociously” reading memos, messages, sticky notes and of course FOX news that had just prior ran a story on the appropriateness of selfies being taken at funerals and posted with humorous captions like “having a bad hair day at funeral”.

    Meanwhile, as people in America stand in long lines at grocery stores due to lay off of employees there are those tabloids to glimpse. And reports were Obama and Michelle are not on very good speaking terms lately. Obama spends too much partying.

    It’s times like this Obama moves at the speed of light, and now there is Obama and Michelle’s
    “Farm to Fleet” Green announcement.

    This will lead to higher cost of food and more importing foods unlabeled on the shelves, Americans going on food stamps, and harm to America’s military defense.

  4. canary says:

    Mandela refused to meet with president Obama and Michelle even when they took vacations together and separately and tried to meet with him.

    Considering Mandela freely met with Bill Gates, models, and celebrities, the going was all for a party. I’m sure the Bush’s were miserable being snubbed by the Obamas and having to stay in the medical office of Air Force 1 and look at all the renovations that have been made.

    Here is better uncut footage of Obama literally running and skipping up to Castro and a very long handshake. I noticed the crotch photo of Michelle isn’t being spread around.


    I am trying to think of a funeral that I might have a good time attending without sadness, even if it means skipping and singing in the rain with an umbrella. After all this is America where I’ve learned not very many people do not know the word “liberty” or it’s meaning. sigh….

  5. Mithrandir says:

    When democrats use the government to punish people, and “reward their friends and punish their enemies”, you can expect this kind of hysterical apology from a member of the press. This is a deep and low kowtow fully laid and spread out on the floor apologizing, for something the photographer at the same time blows off as “nothing to see here!” –Then why apologize? It’s something, or it’s nothing, what are you worried about?

    Meanwhile, they did everything they could to “catch” Republicans acting like humans:
    Bush daughters smoking and drinking in college. (Wow! 20 year olds doing that in college?!)
    Digging through George Bush’s / Sarah Palin’s garbage – emails to “catch them doing something.”
    Dick Cheney shooting a lawyer in the face. (everyone’s dream)
    Sarah Palin’s kids behaving like any other kid.
    Newt Gingrich gets a few divorces!–gasp!
    Rick Perry goes hunting, and they flipped over a rock that had a bad word printed on it, not placed by him.

    When do Republicans ever get to act human?

    Retrieved from the memory hole, BILL CLINTON laughing during Ron Brown’s funeral….ah, NOT acting human: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pr8Y9qguTgc

  6. untrainable says:

    …And then, Obama felt the need to kiss her (Moochy’s) hand.
    OMG another hand kissing child. At least the 6 year olds actually liked each other. Barry and Moochy can’t say that. Mrs single parent, and Mr clueless. Can we impeach him for sexual harassment? Come on, at least a suspension. We shouldn’t let him come back to kindergarten until this has been investigated.

  7. Petronius says:

    And not for the first time!

    Who can forget the Empress Armtonia’s glare at Mme. Carla Bruni Sarkozy?


    But the real embarrassment here is not Nerobama’s bit of teenage hanky-panky.

    No, the real embarrassment is that clownish slobberpuss, British PM David Cameron, trying desperately to make it a threesome but failing miserably in the attempt.

    Cameron never seems to grow tired of kissing Nerobama’s patootie, no matter how much crap Nerobama dumps on Britain.

    Thank goodness Cameron is not a real Englishman, for otherwise the humiliation would be unbearable.

    Margaret Thatcher must be spinning in her grave.

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