One of three Drudge Report editors, Charles Hurt, on Tuesday, explored a presidency captured in the era of selfie narcissism, "when freedom, joy and posterity are just a head-tilt, grin and finger-click away." In Hurt's Washington Times opinion piece, President Obama's photographic legacy, caught up in a technological world of instant digital image gratification and of government gone social engine, is fast heading where no president has ever gone, or could have ever gone.
Hurt observed, that in spite of the current White House having a reputation for more carefully controlling press images of any previous presidency, a modern phenomenon had made Obama the undisputed "King of Selfies." However, also according to the Drudge Report editor, it should not have been inevitable and Obama could have and should have had the maturity to avoid the pitfalls. Hurt concluded Obama had indulged in narcissist "behavior you spank out of your children before they graduate from kindergarten."
According to Hurt, Obama has embraced the culture of the selfie when as commander-in-chief, Obama should have rejected it in deference to his world and domestic position. Whether "mugging for a selfie," with baseball players or with Vice President Joe Biden to load up for Biden's Instagram debut , Hurt thinks Obama should step back and reevaluate the impact of "this plague of becoming your own paparazzi."
Not withstanding the fact that technology would not have afforded previous presidents the opportunity, Hurt speculated Jimmy Carter or Ronald Reagan were unlikely to have indulged in selfies. Former President Bill Clinton was a surprising "maybe." A month prior to his article, Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton posed with Jimmy Kimmel in a happy selfie. It was later tweeted on Hillary's Twitter page, with the tweet, "3 Clintons and a Kimmel."
As did the Drudge Report, Hurt noted that selfies were catching fire in the White House as promotional vehicles. With the memory of Drudge headlines, Hurt mentioned that on the anniversary marking George Washington’s first election to the presidency, the White House featured a presidential selfie of President Obama. Snapped in the Oval Office, the image was backed by a portrait of George Washington hanging over the fireplace mantel. Honoring Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, the White House sent out a presidential selfie of Michelle and Obama visiting the Lincoln Memorial.
Dr. Pamela Rutledge, director of the nonprofit Media Psychology Research Center, was quoted in The New York Times warning that “There are some people who put themselves at a certain amount of risk by exposing too much. But that’s not about the selfie. That’s about someone who is not making good choices.” Hurt's position is that Obama is not making good choices regarding the risk that selfies are among the things which, in his opinion, diminish Obama's role as a leader.
The controversy over political selfies has been spotlighted by the Drudge Report and most major news media. A selfie captured during the Nelson Mandela funeral featured President Obama, David Cameron, and Danish prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmid. Of more than 500 images flooding the news wires of the Mandela funeral, this quick digital self portrait of Obama, was according to AFP photographer Roberto Schmidt "the picture" that got the most play. Schmidt acknowledged "Selfies are a fad, and people love fads," adding, " I never thought it was going to grow legs this long."