The media's giftgate

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

I know, my head hurts too, reading the 'coverage.' (I'm waiting for some reporter to combine the gift 'story' with a detailed description of what Michelle Obama was wearing when she gave the Queen of England the gift.)

Aside from the fact that key facts have been omitted by the press, the 'story' reeks of double standards because I don't remember any detailed coverage of the gifts Bush gave dignitaries over the years. Plus, Obama is being mocked, in part, for being a narcissist by including some of his speeches on the Queen's iPod. That's why this part made us chuckle, from Politico:

As for the queen, she gave the Obamas a signed photo of herself and her husband in a silver frame. But she had it easier than Obama — that's the same thing she always gives visiting dignitaries.

Is that an appropriate gift? It certainly seems so. But imagine the media reaction if Obama had given the queen a signed photo of himself.

UPDATE: More overseas 'reporting,' courtesy of Time's migraine-inducing dispatch about how Michelle Obama appeared to touch the Queen for "just a second or two." Time tells us that's a protocol no-no:

The rules are set in stone, and so the eagerly watching British media sputtered when the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, briefly put her hand on the back of Queen Elizabeth II as the two chatted at a reception.

The British media "sputtered," Time relayed. But Time didn't bother to, y'know, actually quote any sputtering examples from the British media. Readers just have to trust Time. Same here:

Still, the sight of anyone apparently touching the Queen with anything more than a limp handshake is enough to send the British (or traditionalists in the old Commonwealth) twittering.

Did the British twitter after Obama appeared to touch the Queen for "just a second or two"? Again, Time doesn't quote anybody to suggest they did. We're supposed to trust Time's judgment. But considering the fact that the article itself is an embarrassment, from premise to execution, that's hard for us to do.

UPDATE: From a CF reader in the comment section:

If I may chime in from the UK. Saw that Michelle Obama put her hand on the Queen's back last night on the BBC news. It was like, 5 seconds of the 10 o'clock news, and the brief comment from the Beeb reporter was to say how unmoved the Queen was when it happened.

UPDATE: More breaking giftgate news here.

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