Photographer Who Took Obama ‘Selfie’ Shot Now Says He’s ‘Ashamed of Mankind’

Right now, the White House press corps is in a shouting match with the Obama Administration over the White House's refusal to allow media photographers to take pictures of various presidential events. While the left-leaning journalists are tossing around words like "propaganda" to describe the official photos which are being released, the recent trip President Obama took to South Africa for the funeral of Nelson Mandela illustrates that the media elite really isn't interested in news so much as it is in preserving its institutional power.

Perhaps the most-discussed news item out of the Mandela funeral trip was a picture that was taken of Obama, British prime minister David Cameron, and Danish prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt taking a “selfie” -- a self-portrait usually shot with a hand-held digital camera or camera phone -- a moment that was caught by Roberto Schmidt, a photographer for the French Press Agency. Now, Schmidt says that the overwhelming interest in the shot makes him “ashamed of mankind.”

In an article for National Review Online, Laura Bennett stated: “The big news from yesterday’s Mandela memorial was not a rousing speech or particularly moving tribute. It was a photo, captured late in the ceremony” of the three world leaders with their “faces smushed together.”

“As soon as the photo appeared online, the Internet pounced,” Bennett stated. “'Selfie Diplomacy' trumpeted NBC News. 'President Takes Selfie at Mandela Funeral. Inappropriate?' wondered the Christian Science Monitor.  'Critics Click Over Obama Selfie Saga,' the Boston Herald declared.”

She also noted:

It’s easy to see why the photo blew up on the web. There are plenty of apparent dynamics to parse. Cameron leans in like a goofy uncle trying to join the party. Obama bites his lip coolly. Thorning-Schmidt, mouth slightly agape, has the self-consciously expectant face of so many selfie-takers before her.

And off to one side, Michelle appears to be fuming but is probably just not paying attention.

Schmidt, the AFP's chief photographer for South Asia, asked: “Why do people care about a selfie? This is a sad reflection of our society."

Bennett noted that he’d gone to the memorial “with a team of 10 photographers. They moved some 500 pictures ages on the wire.”

“Good images, nice, strong images," he continued. “Images of South Africans dancing, smiling, chanting, which is the way they express mourning for a man they consider to be their father.”

Schmidt dutifully clicked away. “They’re in front of you, this happens, you take the picture,” he said. “But I saw so many good images from that memorial. And the picture that’s getting played is the president in a selfie. That’s kind of a bummer.”

Ed Driscoll of PJMedia.com decided to translate that phrase from its use in the “mainstream media” into common English:

I broke news -- I’m a successful wire service photog! But I broke news that made Mr. Obama look bad. I’ll never hear the end of this from my peers standing around the Monsieur Coffee machine in the AFP break room in their Paris HQ.

I am a failure of a photographer. I’ll never be stupid enough to break news again. Mon Dieu! Where did it all go wrong?

So one wire service photographer is ashamed he took a photo that “made the most powerful man in the world look silly,” Driscoll stated. “Which rather nicely sums up the stenographic attitude of today’s left-wing palace guard 'journalists.' (But then, the media never really bought into that century-old nonsense they used to tell their readers about 'comforting the afflicting and afflicting the comfortable,' did they?)”

Along those lines, NewsBusters previously reported CBS's Sharyl Attkisson tweeted that the White House Correspondents Association, along with "dozens of associations & media outlets," sent a letter of protest to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney in mid-November.

Attkisson charged that the Obama administration was engaged in a “troubling break from tradition” by restricting the access of photojournalists at certain presidential events "while releasing government photos and videos of the same events.”

“Journalists are routinely being denied the right to photograph or videotape the president while he is performing his official duties,” the letter stated. “As surely as if they were placing a hand over a journalist's camera lens, officials in this administration are blocking the public from having an independent view of important functions of the Executive Branch of government.”

Even if that is true, which it appears to be, judging by the actual conduct and statements from Schmidt and others, it is hard to see how the pictures taken by the overwhelmingly left-leaning White House press corps are really all that different from the official ones, a point which even the liberal website Gawker acknowledged last month in a post headlined "Exposed: Obama Image Machine Won't Let Press Take Flattering Photos."

Randy Hall
Randy Hall