White House Releases First Official Obama Family Portrait

4035513827_8f85699646_bLast night, the official White House Flickr feed released the official portrait of the First Family as photographed by the illustrious Annie Leibovitz. President Barack Obama, his wife Michelle and even their two daughters Sasha and Malia are ubiquitous faces in worldwide media, but this shot marks the first time they have been photographed officially all together. The shoot took place September 1st in the Green Room of the White House.

Vanity Fair has more on Leibovitz, the magazine’s most notable and consistent photographer, and her past work with the Obamas:

Overnight, the White House Flickr feed posted the first official portrait of the First Family. It was taken by none other than Annie Leibovitz, whose professional relationship with the Obamas goes back to 2004, when Barack was running for the U.S. Senate. Leibovitz’s photograph of the whole family at the “Obama for Illinois” campaign headquarters in Chicago was accompanied by a caption that began, “Is this the face of a future president?” At the time, it would have been unthinkable to suggest he might become the next president.

Clearly, an awful lot has changed since then, but the bond between president and photographer has only grown. Click through for a look back at some of Leibovitz’s portraits of President Obama and his family.

See more of Leibovitz’s work with Obama here.


Investors Bet on Another Real-Time Start-Up. Next Up for Hot Potato: Product, Users.

hot potatoHere’s a good way to get your hands on scarce venture capital money: Create a start-up geared around “real-time” sharing and conversations.

That’s the core of Twitter’s pitch, of course, and it has helped the microblogging service raise $155 million, a $1 billion valuation, and forge partnerships with Google (GOOG) and Microsoft (MSFT). Not surprisingly, investors are looking to place money on related bets, from search engines that parse real-time data to location-based social networks with real-time updates, and even real-time photo-sharing sites.

The newest entrant: Hot Potato, a buzzy start-up that’s supposed to let users converse about a particular event, whether they’re attending it in person or watching from afar. When it’s up and running, that is. The five-man crew doesn’t have users or a product just yet.

But that hasn’t prevented the Brooklyn, N.Y-based company from raising about $1 million, sources say, in a round led by First Round Capital and RRE Ventures. A group of smaller investors, including Betaworks, the incubator that specializes in real-time companies, and Ron Conway, the angel investor best known for his Google bet, are also backing the company.

Hot Potato is led by Justin Shaffer, an eight-year veteran of Major League Baseball Advanced Media, pro baseball’s well-regarded Web unit. Shaffer has recruited three other MLB.com employees (one of whom subsequently left to get an MBA at MIT) to join him.

Shaffer wouldn’t comment about his funding round, but was willing to discuss his start-up’s general plans. They are finishing an iPhone app and plan to submit it to Apple (AAPL) in the next few weeks, he said, and will open their doors once that’s approved.

The big idea is an interesting one. People are already using Facebook and Twitter to converse about events in real time–think about Barack Obama’s inauguration, or Balloon Boy, or last night’s Yankees-Angels game.

Shaffer’s critique of those platforms, though is that “they break at scale–there’s no good way to filter the chatter so that  you, your friends, and a group of strangers with something relevant to say can all connect. Hot Potato, he says, will offer a “curated stream” in real time of all the data coming out of the event in real time. What we’re really focused on doing is bringing together the entire audience of an event, whether they’re at the event or watching at home.”

Business model? TBD, of course. But there are a couple of obvious ways to go. For instance, Shaffer thinks people who opt-in to a particular conversation–say, about an NFL game or a U2 concert–would be okay with seeing “in-stream” ads, as long as they were relevant.

But that’s a problem that’s best tackled once the service is up and running. We’ll check back then.

Soundbite: Barack Nixon Who?

Picture 12“But ignorance is epidemic on Capitol Hill and in the capital’s newsrooms, so let’s say this very simply: Nothing that Obama or any of his aides has done or said remotely resembles the war on the press waged by the Nixon White House until Watergate ended that administration’s assaults on the Constitution. Nobody has sent Joe Biden out to question the patriotism of reporters and columnists who criticize the president, as Agnew did repeatedly. And nobody has tried to intimidate the media with obscene threats and tax audits, in the Mafia style of Nixon’s aides.”

Salon’s Joe Conason on the “cosmic jest” of comparing the White House’s recent ‘war’ on Fox News to that of President Nixon’s policies against the press during his presidency.

Basically Conason thinks the only Nixonian handbook at play right now is that of Roger Ailes, and that some overzealous pundits should perhaps pick up a history book, or two (this one comes highly recommended).


Joy Behar To Ann Coulter: ‘People Are P*ssed Off Because Fox Lies A Lot’

As ill-advised as the White House ‘war’ against Fox News might be — last night at a Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me taping at Carnegie Hall Brian Williams said he thought the White House “might want this one back — it is a gift to the media industry. Much the way the 2008 election provided a narrative for the entire industry so is this smaller campaign against (between?) Fox and the Obama administration providing everyone, including the blogosphere(!), with daily fodder, and new shows with a quick way to get in on the conversation.

Case in point. Last night the ever-stimulating Ann Coulter was a guest on Joy Behar’s new HLN show. Behar is of the opinion that Fox News lies and has a litany of examples to back her accusations up. Coulter, who by the way can hold her own and then some with the long-time View host, says Fox News is getting a rough ride:

They treat Fox News like they’re Stalin…there’s more respect for Roman Polanski than there is for Fox News anchors.

Coulter also notes that Glenn Beck talks so much, all the time, that he is bound to make mistakes when it comes to details. Video below.


The White House Should Listen To Glenn Beck’s Smart Advice

Picture 7White House communications director Anita Dunn may not be calling Glenn Beck’s red ‘Mao Hotline‘ anytime soon, but if Dunn is the person in the White House reportedly charged with the responsibility of keeping an eye on Fox News perhaps she’ll consider taking some of the smart advice Beck offered during his show last night: Don’t pick a fight with the news business. Between the magic coin tricks and the carrier pigeon impressions Beck produced this little nugget of wisdom (video below):

The administration seemingly is wasting a lot of time, and energy, attacking Fox News…Why would they do that? It doesn’t make any sense. I mean if you think of it strategically, you don’t pick a fight with Fox News, you don’t pick a fight with anybody in the news business! That’s a losing battle every single time. There’s an old saying, ‘you don’t get into a war with people who buy ink by the barrel’….Fox doesn’t even buy ink! It’s unlimited air time. Why would you do that?

Good question! One that apparently has people (including us) on both sides of the aisle scratching their heads. (Beck’s answer, by the way, is that Obama is trying to distract the public from health care.) But the point is well taken: Who at the White House actually thought this was a good idea? And how long until it really backfires?

Meanwhile, the Obama administration is apparently the only group with the nerve to take Beck and his counterparts. From today’s Politico:

But the reality of the GOP during the Obama presidency is that the party’s image and priorities are in many ways being imposed on Washington — driven by grass-roots energies that lawmakers and strategists can scarcely control. At the same time, there are powerful incentives for Washington politicians to play to the crowd and bow to the influence of commentators like Beck, who at the moment is far more famous than any of the GOP’s congressional leaders. When Republicans such as Rep. Phil Gingrey have complained about these figures in public, most have quickly apologized in the face of outraged phone calls and e-mails from conservative activists.

Is Glenn Beck the GOP’s 2010 Frankenstein or savior? We shall see. Video of Beck’s advice to the White House (and his carrier pigeon impression) below:


The Internet Presidency: What Dirty Campaigning Looks Like Today

barack-obama-blackberryThe 2008 election year and Barack Obama’s subsequent election have been described by many as the first Internet presidency: the viral Internet vids and election emails were used to great effect. Not to mention: This is the first president to carry a Blackberry! However this is all likely to be considered small potatoes in the very near future.

To get a sense of what we can expect in 2012 take a look at what just went down in Connecticut. Instead of misleading and/or vicious robocalls and fliers, political operatives in that state opted for Twitter. Or at least gave it their best shot.

Twitter, Inc., shut down 33 fake Twitter accounts created by Republicans using the names of Democratic state representatives. The Republican scheme was to send out posts under the Democrats’ names mocking the liberal tax-and-spend bastards.

As we’ve noted before, Twitter is pretty quick to shut down fake accounts, but try and imagine that on a national level — how many twitter accounts are there already that are variations on Sarah Palin’s name? Furthermore try and imagine the effect on a population of people not quite as Internet savvy as the people reading this post.

It doesn’t stop at Twitter — and neither apparently did the CT state Republicans.

Republicans are still operating the 33 Web sites they created using the names of those same Democratic lawmakers. As far as anyone knows, this is the first time any state party has used such a tactic to mock its state opponents.

It is for certain not going to be the last. The real Internet election year is yet to come.

(h/t @jayrosen_nyu)


Top Ten Outrageous Sarah Palin Stories Oprah Will Have To Address

palin_oprahAs reported yesterday, Sarah Palin will make her Oprah debut on November 16, one day before her already best-selling book Going Rogue is released to the public. We, also noted yesterday that the lack of Oprah’s presence in during the 2008 political season (she removed herself after publicly declaring support for Barack Obama) was particularly felt after Sarah Palin entered the race and it became clear she was perhaps not equipped for the role of Vice President. That said, it’s clear that Palin is hoping to relaunch her political career with the release of her memoir this November so no time like the present!

Palin has done only a handful of interviews since she and McCain lost the election last November, most recently appearing on the Today show in June with Matt Lauer to respond to David Letterman’s late night joke about her daughter. But it’s been a while since she’s been on the hot seat (read: Katie Couric) and there’s certainly plenty to talk about! In an effort to help Oprah prepare for her interview we’ve compiled a top ten list of of outrageous questions about Sarah Palin that will need to be addressed.

>>>NEXT: Baby Daddy Levi In The Centerfold