Top Papers Bury Team Obama's Admission of Error on Paris Rally

The nation’s leading newspapers couldn’t be bothered with the controversy over Team Obama's no-show at the huge Paris "unity" rally on Monday morning, and then buried it on Tuesday.

The Washington Post put it on A-9 with the headline "White House apologizes for mistake at Paris rally." Greg Jaffe and Katie Zezima worked in the concept that "For all the hubbub in Washington, the supposed snub caused few ripples in Paris, where attention remained focused Monday on the historic nature of Sunday's march -- and the continued security threat facing the nation. During the rally, most French hardly seemed to notice the absence of a U.S. representative."

The Times put the story at the bottom of A-12, with the headline "White House Acknowledges Error in Not Sending a Top Official to March in Paris." Reporter Julie Hirschfield Davis couldn’t get through the first paragraph without huffing “French officials quickly rejected the idea that Mr. Obama had snubbed the event.”

NPR skipped the story Monday morning, but filed one late in their All Things Considered program on Monday night, with correspondent Mara Liasson insisting it was no big deal, politically:

I think as a domestic political matter, it's probably not that big a deal. The White House has said over and over again the U.S. stands with France. The French ambassador came over to the White House today to meet with counterterrorism officials. We are allies with France in the fight against terrorism. Next month the president is going to host world leaders at the White House for a summit meeting on preventing terrorism.

I think the American people are not as consumed with whether the president went to the march, but they do want to know what the U.S. strategy is to keep this kind of attack from happening here.

Earnest wouldn’t explain why no top official attended – including attorney general Eric Holder, who was in Paris, but doing TV shows in America at the time of the march. The press secretary also wouldn’t disclose what Obama was doing instead on Sunday. When bad news erupts around Obama, it’s never wise to think it will last or expect a full explanation of what happened.    

Reasons for the snub might seem obvious to Obama opponents. Why would Obama want to share the spotlight? When he arrived in Berlin to large crowds in the summer of 2008, NBC’s Brian Williams was oozing over how “throngs” were “streaming into this city, surging to get close to him, to hear his message.” On CBS, reporter Mark Phillips called Obama “part exotic politician, part rock star.” The Associated Press raved about “Obama's youth, eloquence and energy that have stolen hearts across the Atlantic.”

The White House must have felt there was no "exotic rock star" moment in this trip.

NPR All Things Considered New York Times Washington Post Greg Jaffe Julie Hirschfeld Davis Mara Liasson Katie Zezima
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