Commentary by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Questions continue to swirl around a lavish “Alice in Wonderland” children’s costume ball that took place in the White House during the height of the recession in 2009 that the press was either prevented from covering or deliberately neglected to do so to protect the Obama’s.
According to the New York Post, details of the party emerged in a new tell-all book by New York Times correspondent Jodi Kantor, entitled The Obama’s. The event took place in the State Dining Room which was transformed into a lavish Wonderland while reporters were busy covering a more modest Halloween treat give-away for thousands of DC children which the president and First Lady staged earlier in the day.
As Kantor reports, Hollywood producer Tim Burton decorated the room “in his signature creepy-comic style. His film version was about to be released, and he had turned the room into the Mad Hatter’s tea party, with a long table set with antique-looking linens, enormous stuffed animals in chairs, and tiered serving plates with treats like bone-shaped meringue cookies. Fruit punch was served in blood vials at the bar. Burton’s own Mad Hatter, the actor Johnny Depp, presided over the scene in full costume, standing up on a table to welcome everyone in character.”
Nearby were the Obama daughters, Malia and Sasha, then 11 and 8 respectively, who “sat at the table, surrounded by a gaggle of their friends, and then proceeded to the next delight, a magic show in the East Room.”
The event was so over-the-top that White House officials were afraid of the image it would present to a public that was caught in the middle of one of the worst recessions of modern times.
“White House officials were so nervous about how a splashy, Hollywood-esque party would look to jobless Americans — or their representatives in Congress, who would soon vote on health care — that the event was not discussed publicly and Burton’s and Depp’s contributions went unacknowledged,” the book says.
The White House, now in full damage control mode, claimed that the party was not secret and that the press had been invited; however, photos of the event could only be found on Johnny Depp’s website and mention of the event could only be found in The Nashville Tennessean which mentioned that Depp and Burton were at the White House for a party. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs addressed the event in one of his briefing, but left out the details.
John Nolte, writing for Breitbart’s Big Journalism, refers to the mainstream media (MSM) as “Obama’s Palace Guards” but says the term “secret service” might be a more appropriate title after word of this party leaked because “this time the MSM has apparently decided to take a public relations bullet for Their Precious One,” he wrote.
But the most important thing we now know, he says, “is that the White House is claiming they hid nothing from the media and in response the media is… saying… nothing… in… their… defense…”
He continues: “And so we are now left to ponder the following: did the MSM know about the party at the time and choose not to cover it in order to protect Obama? Or is the White House statement about the MSM knowing about the party untrue but in order to protect Obama the MSM isn’t reporting that it’s untrue?”
Another theory is that the White House told their MSM friends about the party but asked them not to report on it, which the president’s adoring press would only naturally agree to do.
Nolte goes on to speculate: “It is also possible that the White House, in order to protect itself, is throwing the MSM under the bus by informing the public that the MSM did, in fact, know about the party and chose not to report it. And now, in order to protect Obama, the MSM is not going to tell us what they knew and when they knew it. Anyone sense a theme here?”
Kantor’s book, which is at times favorable toward the Obamas, didn’t stop at the Halloween party. It goes on to describe many bitter rows between Mrs. Obama and top White House advisors. The First Lady is also cited for pushing the president into pursuing politically risky causes such as the healthcare overhaul.
As for the White House, they are dismissing Kantor’s book, even though she had access to more than 30 top aides in both the East and West wing.
“The book, an overdramatization of old news, is about a relationship between two people whom the author has not spoken to in years, said White House spokesman Eric Schultz in a blog statement. “The author last interviewed the Obamas in 2009 for a magazine piece, and did not interview them for this book. The emotions, thoughts and private moments described in the book, though often seemingly ascribed to the President and First Lady, reflect little more than the author’s own thoughts. These second-hand accounts are staples of every Administration in modern political history and often exaggerated.”
Kantor, who is known for her meticulous reporting, defended herself on NBC’s Today, pointing out that the White House has not “disputed any of the facts” in the book. While she did not interview the Obamas, she used information gleaned from top aides and close friends of the president and First Lady.
” I’m one of the only people to get access to the East Wing and the First Lady’s staff there,” she told host Matt Lauer. “What I found is that aides and friends were able to tell stories that the Obamas don’t talk about.”
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