December 27th, 2008
01:08 PM ET
6 years ago

Obama gives the press the slip

Barack Obama enjoys some shaved ice while vacationing in Hawaii with his family.
Barack Obama enjoys some shaved ice while vacationing in Hawaii with his family.

WAIMANALO, Hawaii (CNN) – President-elect Barack Obama slipped away Friday from the traveling press pool that follows him wherever he goes, taking his two young daughters and other family members and friends to Sea Life Park Hawaii.

The Obamas are vacationing in Hawaii.

CNN was the only news organization to witness the park outing. The president-elect was joined by about nine others, including daughters Sasha, 7, and Malia, 10, half-sister Maya Sotero-Ng, her husband and daughter and friend Eric Whitaker.

The group caught a dolphin show before visiting a touch pool and the sea lion exhibit, where it was feeding time.

After the park visit, the Obama group was joined by the press pool - which arrived at the park about an hour after the Obamas but was not allowed in - as they stopped for a sandwich and shaved ice. The reporters refused an offer from Obama to buy them some shaved ice.

The press was allowed to take photographs for more than 20 minutes - much longer than the typical photo opportunity at such an event - before Obama asked the crews and the large crowd that had gathered to "let me eat in peace."

The traveling press pool that accompanies high-ranking officials like the president-elect or the president is made up of about 15 representatives from all types of media - newspaper, magazine, radio, television. Those representatives report back on their subject's movements for the rest of the media.

Their purpose is to provide a public record of the official's activities, a vital service in a functioning democracy.

On Friday, the pool went with Obama to the gym earlier in the day and then returned to their hotels after the transition team said there would be no further events.

"With no further scheduled events for the day, a lid was called until further notice," said Ben Labolt, a transition team spokesman. "The president-elect (later) decided to take the girls to a water park, and we assembled the pool as quickly as possible."

When the travel pool was notified that the Obamas were heading to the park, they notified other news agencies - including CNN. The pool had to return to the Obamas' vacation home to be taken to the park by the transition team; CNN's crew, not a part of the pool on Friday, was closer to the park.

When visitors of the park recognized the president-elect, they began snapping more photos and videos of Obama's group than of the marine animals. A number of Secret Service agents kept people at a safe distance, asking onlookers to keep walking after they stood looking at the group a while.

The Obamas are trying to establish a level of privacy for Sasha and Malia, as previous presidents have done with their own children. But it's been more than 30 years since a presidential child has been under the age of 10, and the fine line between keeping the public eye on the president-elect while keeping the children's privacy intact is not always clear.

Amy Carter, daughter of President Jimmy Carter, was 9 years old when her father took office. The children of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush were grown when they took office, and Chelsea Clinton was 12 when President Bill Clinton took office. President George W. Bush's twins Jenna and Barbara were 20 when their father became president.

Four days ago, paparazzi staked out the Obamas' vacation rental home on the public Kailua Beach and snapped photographs of the family. The photos, particularly one of a shirtless Obama in swim trunks, caused a media firestorm.

The transition team dismissed the photo of the president-elect, but they were not pleased with the photos of the children.

CNN photojournalist Khalil Abdallah contributed to this report.

soundoff (288 Responses)
  1. Erika, KS

    Obama has an 80% approval rating? For what? Doing nothing? No accomplishments? For billing himself as a black man when he's not? For projecting himself as a rock star, media attention, ego maniac that he is? If he gave the media the slip – it would be the first time in his life. And is this news?

    December 27, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  2. Becky, KS

    Obama does not deserve privacy. And this is why: when you run for public office, especially for President, you give up the "right" to your privacy. And the media, CNN included created the rock star attention that Obama seeks. The man has accomplished nothing. He wants the attention he gets. It's all he has accomplished. Time will tell what he can do. But make no mistake, he loves the attention. The media created this Obama fascination. The media will continue. I'm sick of it, but get used to it; it's not going away.

    December 27, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  3. valdo

    Hey MO in Tn,

    why don't you do some real research about why your social security money is gone..and how this whole recession was started...Look at who authored those bills, who deregulated the banking industry, who voted on what....

    then post an educated comment on an opinion page.

    December 27, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  4. nate

    E – Brilliant post and Amber (youre not the model Amber I know are you)?

    December 27, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  5. Mike Dallas

    So, the MSM gets it's collective panties in a bunch because Obama wants to go to a park with his family?

    Where was the MSM when the current President was lying to America about WMD's in Iraq? Waterboarding at Quitmo? The depth of ease-dropping on domestic American citizens? The shredding of the American Constitution?

    But a trip to a water park is a breach of the press' ability to provide "a vital service in a functioning democracy"?

    I would agree that the MSM has failed in providing a "functioning democracy" but the damage was done by the non-coverage of Bush/Cheney/McCain activities, NOT the missing coverage of a trip to a water park by the President elect!

    December 27, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  6. Liz in Ohio

    CG get over it!! OBAMA WON!! He IS an AMERICAN! Deal with it people! He IS going to be our next PRESIDENT. So, REPUBLICANS, go away! You had your chance with GW and well we all know what happened with him. May he please get out of town so the REAL MEN can get to work!

    December 27, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  7. clifford

    Amber: Talk about nut jobs! I believe Obama already got to your "air" head!

    December 27, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  8. clifford

    The press created this mythical liar and that same press will ultimately destroy him!!

    December 27, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  9. malabar

    Sarah Palin

    December 27, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  10. malabar

    Sarah Palin is just so awesome

    December 27, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  11. dittoheads sister

    Some children love the opposing view just to get attention.Please ignore the kids just like their parents have done for years,they are now beyond help and look to people like Rush for guidance in their sad little lives.

    December 27, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  12. Not fooled by Politicians

    For all of you whiners that posted your complaints about the press, the press have become stalkers because YOU are all to eager to read all about it. I was trying to find out about the Oahu black out and got this instead.
    Obama and family are media fodder because anyone here to read this article have made them so.
    Until he gets sworn in as president he is still under the public eye because he is still the Senator of Ill.
    I hope the press hounds him and his family like they did to Princess Diana, maybe then we will get some to have some of the freedom of the press infringed upon that you all cry out for.
    I am NOT a Republican or a Democrat, I did not vote for one of the two evils. This government we have is a bi-partisan mess, both parties are responsible for the current problems and neither side has a well thought out plan to fix it.
    If anyone is worried about Mr O they should keep him away from theaters and tunnels in France.
    As far as hope goes, I hope he isn't just another snakey politician, I realize that is alot to hope for. And change, well, change exactly what?

    December 27, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  13. phil68

    He needs his privacy.

    December 27, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  14. redhead from Toronto

    Just like many Anerican families, the Obama's went home for Christmas. They also went home to say a final goodbye to their grandmother, what in the world is wrong with that? You nasty people on this blog need to get a life, the USA has a much needed chance to pull itself out of the cesspool George Bush and his moronic cronies have put it in, why can't you give the man a chance, I don't see what you have to lose. Someone on this blog said "PE Obama will not see much of his family in the coming 4 years, he will be too busy trying to put your Country back together again," so pleeeease, leave him alone at this wonderful time of year to enjoy his family in beautiful Hawaii, I doubt he will get much of a rest after Nov 20th, Give it a rest everyone, let's see if he can Give your country back it's name, THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, THE GREAT US OF A .Which is as it should be. Happy New Year everyone.

    December 27, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  15. Goodson

    Those disgustful descendants of Abraham in Palestine and Israel just ruined my Christmas, none of them knows better, they're all cursed bloodthirsty terrorists, both the Zionists and Hamas. it's always BLOOD, BLOOD, BLOOD with no end in sight

    December 27, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  16. Chelle in Fla

    TO: Susan from Scotts Valley, CA

    Shaved ice cream is elistest are you serious?!??! I understand you're disappointed, but I suggest you get over it because he is our president and will be so for the next 8 years!

    December 27, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  17. dmjakers

    The reporters seem to be indicating that their integrity can be bought off for a mere free beer or shave ice. More than that, I see it as very rude to turn down the offer of a friendly gesture. If I was the person making that offer and it was turned down I would be offended. Not only that, but I would not soon forget

    December 27, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  18. redhead from Toronto

    OOPS, typo, I meant Jan 20th of course, some of this stuff on here makes me so mad I can hardly think straight.God bless and keep PE Obama and his beautiful family.

    December 27, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  19. Richard Rohde

    He had to go get his advice from Reverand Wright, William Ayers, Charlie Rangel, William Jeffersson, Blago, Dingy Harry, Louis Farakhan, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, the Fords of Memphis, Kwame Kilpatick and ACORN. Its going to be a fun 4 years libocrats.

    December 27, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  20. Chris

    "Their purpose is to provide a public record of the official's activities, a vital service in a functioning democracy."

    What a joke. Ms. Shepherd, your "purpose" is to make money for your corporate overlords. If they think it'll profit them to provide the public with a record of their elected officials, then that's what your masters will force you to do. If, instead, they seek more potential for cash in puerile entertainment and paparazzo-like stalking, then that's what you, as a lapdog and wage slave, will do.

    How DARE you hold yourself up as some paragon of virtue. Your employer helped to sell wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that have led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians and almost 4000 Americans.

    Even today, your network gleefully shows images of Israelis murdering Palestinian civilians- over 200 at last count, with the number sure to rise. Yet your bosses and their talking heads can't even see fit to show how many Israelis were killed in the past three months by all these so-called "terrorists" and their rocket attacks: zero. _One_ poor soul was murdered by a Palestinian rocket _after_ the Israelis committed their most recent act of collective punishment against a civilian population. ONE!

    So you shut your bloody mouth, spouting off inanities like what a journalist's "duty" is.

    December 27, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  21. No Hillary = No Obama

    Just wait until Obama gives the American people the slip – or maybe he has already since he's so well oiled.

    December 27, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  22. Amber

    Nate, thank you, if only I were! :)

    Clifford my darling, there are over 400,000 words in common usage in the English language. Please learn to string at least five of them together correctly before calling someone else an airhead.

    December 27, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  23. Jason

    CNN the FOX Noise of the Obama Admin. This is news? Hey FOX, I mean CNN I lost my shoe the other day. Could you put out an all points bulletin with a description?

    December 27, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  24. dumas mcgee

    leave barack obama alooooooooooone

    leave him alooooooone

    December 27, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  25. Lauren

    >>>.The press was allowed to take photographs for more than 20 >>>>minutes — much longer than the typical photo opportunity at >>>>such an event —

    Exactly,,, Obama wants the attention, he CRAVES the attention. He loves the rock and roll star image. He desires to have the public drooling over him. He wants to be JFK,,, he never will come close.

    He let them stay longer,,,, LOOK AT ME,,, TAKE MY PICTURE,

    If he wanted them to stop,, al he had to do was say no press today, this is a private family outing,,, come back when I am on the job.

    But he wants the cult following, he NEEDS the cult following.

    December 27, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
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