The Death of the Presidential Selfie?

Obama’s selfie with Red Sox player David Ortiz was a sham designed by Samsung. He’ll have to think twice before taking another.

Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz and President Obama take a selfie at the White House on Tuesday.
National Journal
Matt Vasilogambros
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Matt Vasilogambros
April 2, 2014, 8:33 a.m.

Pres­id­ent Obama can add an­oth­er job title to his re­sume: Sam­sung shill.

It turns out that the “spon­tan­eous” selfie that the pres­id­ent took with Red Sox play­er Dav­id Ort­iz at the White House on Tues­day was ac­tu­ally an or­ches­trated so­cial-me­dia move by the base­ball star.

After Ort­iz tweeted the pic­ture of him and the pres­id­ent on the South Lawn, it got a so­cial-me­dia boost from Sam­sung on Twit­ter. Ort­iz, as a newly signed so­cial-me­dia in­sider for the tech com­pany, used one of their devices for the shot. Then Sam­sung’s so­cial-me­dia team went to work tweet­ing out the photo and con­firm­ing it was taken with a Sam­sung Galaxy Note 3.

“When we heard about the vis­it to the White House, we worked with Dav­id and the team on how to share im­ages with fans,” Sam­sung said in a state­ment to The Bo­ston Globe. “We didn’t know if or what he would be able to cap­ture us­ing his Note 3 device.”

This mir­rors the Sam­sung-or­ches­trated selfie, and now most tweeted photo ever, that El­len De­Generes took at the Oscars last month.

The pres­id­ent was ob­vi­ously duped in­to help­ing Sam­sung sell more phones. “POTUS did not know,” Red Sox fan and White House press sec­ret­ary Jay Car­ney told Busi­nes­s­Week.

But how could the pres­id­ent have known?

Un­less he was ex­pli­citly told, he really couldn’t have. This will, however, make the White House press team and the pres­id­ent think twice be­fore Obama takes an­oth­er selfie with ath­letes or oth­er celebrit­ies.

And it’s too bad, really. The pres­id­ent tak­ing a selfie was an easy so­cial-me­dia win for him. It makes Obama look down-to-earth and hu­man.

The polit­ic­al selfie is no longer just a rare bit of in­no­cent Wash­ing­ton lev­ity. Now, with the help of Sam­sung, it’s just an­oth­er con­duit for cor­por­ate mes­saging.

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