March 20, 2012

How Agence France-Presse Ruined Malia Obama's Vacation

There's a long tradition of keeping presidents' kids out of the press, but the newswire reported today on details of Obama's elder daughter's travel in Mexico. The story was quickly removed from websites across the Internet, but you can't unring that bell.
A story about Malia Obama's scheduled spring break trip to Mexico — along with 12 friends and 25 Secret Service agents — appeared and abruptly started disappearing from news sites across the web Monday evening without explanation.
The original story, published by Agence France Press, went viral Monday afternoon, but within hours, broken links and error pages replaced the copy on many sites. It no longer appears on AFP's website, and the link on the Huffington Post story (pictured below) now redirects to the homepage.

Obama's daughter spends spring break in Mexico


Malia Obama.

Malia Obama.

Photograph by: Archive photo, Getty Images

OAXACA, Mexico - The elder daughter of U.S. President Barack Obama is spending her spring break in the historic Mexican city of Oaxaca in the company of 12 friends, a state police official said.
The young tourists, including 13-year-old Malia Ann Obama, are staying at a downtown hotel in this city famous for its colonial architecture and well-preserved native American traditions, the official said.
"We are here to block access to the hotel by other people and escort the vehicles that are carrying the visitors to tourism sites," the police official told AFP under the condition of anonymity.
Malia Obama and her friend are guarded by 25 U.S. Secret Service agents as well as Mexican police, the official noted.
The group, which arrived in Oaxaca Saturday, has already visited the architectural zone of Mitla and the tree of El Tule believed to have one thousand years.
The sightseeing plan also includes visits to Monte Alban known for its archeological research sites and Oaxaca’s famous artisan quarters.


Have you heard that Malia Obama, the president’s daughter, is reportedly spending her spring break in Oaxaca, Mexico? Allegedly, she’s jetting off with some of her classmates and 25 Secret Service agents to a country that the State Department has said all Americans should avoid. But something is different about the latest “Obama vacation controversy:” references to it are disappearing from the Internet — and fast.
Around 3:00 EST, a Telegraph story reporting on the event was the first to vanish (note how the url remains the same in the “before” and “after”):
Malia Obama Oaxaca, Mexico Vacation Story Disappearing from the Web
Malia Obama Oaxaca, Mexico Vacation Story Disappearing from the Web
Then, the related Huffington Post article was found to be linking back to a completely unrelatedYahoo News page titled “Senegal Music Star Youssou Ndour Hits Campaign Trail.”
The Huffington Post article:
Malia Obama Oaxaca, Mexico Vacation Story Disappearing from the Web
Links to this site:
Malia Obama Oaxaca, Mexico Vacation Story Disappearing from the Web
The Yahoo News story that HuffPo links to makes no mention of Malia Obama or her Mexican vacation. That raises two possibilities: either HuffPo has made an error in its link, or Yahoo has also removed its “Malia in Mexico” story. The latter more likely considering that the “-obamas-daughter-spends-springbreak-in-Mexico” url is still present in the Yahoo story.
In fact, consider that the link to the Huffington Post article on Google now goes to the site’s main page. Alas, that story too has been taken down.
In addition to larger news organizations, smaller sites are also removing their stories.
Free Republic removed a related discussion thread:
Click here to find out more!
Malia Obama Oaxaca, Mexico Vacation Story Disappearing from the Web
And “Global Grind” removed its related article:
Malia Obama Oaxaca, Mexico Vacation Story Disappearing from the Web
Of these sites, the only one to state a reason for the change was “Free Republic,“ where the Admin wrote ”Leave the kids alone.”
So that raises the question: Why were all these stories being taken down? Is the story false? Were they removed for security reasons?
Consider that the story still lives (as of this publication)* on the site of The Australian, which uses a story from the well-respected AFP (a sort of Associated Press for France):
Malia Obama Oaxaca, Mexico Vacation Story Disappearing from the Web
So far, no outlets have explained why the stories have been taken down. It will be interesting to see if they do.
The Blaze’s Jonathon M. Seidl contributed to this report.
*The Australian has since removed its article.
Buzzfeed is now reporting that it is a “long tradition” not to report on presidential kids’ vacation plans, citing this as the possible reason for the many unexplained retractions.
If this is the case, it still raises questions as to why Malia was allowed to vacation in a country that the State Department recommends no American travels to.
Neither AFP nor the White House responded to Buzzfeed’s request for comment.
The Montreal Gazette has now posted the story of the vacation. It’s one of the only sites that is reporting on it. Interestingly, the story is actually attributed to the AFP (mentioned above). You can read it here.