Sunday, August 15, 2010

No, Obama did NOT swim in the Gulf

Slight of hand by the media, the White House, or honest mistake?  By now, I’m sure you’ve read the reports, such as this one from Reuters, that President Obama went for a dip in the warm, salty waters of the Gulf of Mexico:

The president and his family are on a weekend trip to Panama City as part of an effort to encourage more tourists to visit Florida's famous white sand beaches, which have suffered only minor damage from the spill, mostly in the form of scattered tar balls and small oil patches.

"I also want to point out that as a result of the cleanup effort, beaches all along the Gulf Coast are clean and safe and open for business," he said. "That's one of the reasons Michelle, Sasha, and I are here," he said, referring to his wife and youngest daughter.

The White House later released a picture of Obama immersed in the Gulf waters, playing with 9-year-old Sasha.

CNN kind of got it right-Obama takes plunge, swims in Gulf:

But just hours later, a photo was published on the White House Flickr page showing a smiling President Obama and his daughter Sasha taking a dip in the Gulf waters off Alligator Point in Panama City Beach, Florida.

The local paper got it absolutely right, though:

PANAMA CITY BEACH — The first day of the first family’s vacation in Panama City Beach was punctuated by meals at local restaurants, a playfully competitive round of mini-golf and a dip in St. Andrew Bay.

Alligator Point, in St. Andrew Bay, is behind the barrier island and not exposed to the Gulf of Mexico.  In fact, just a few miles away from where Obama and Sasha swam, a man drowned in the Gulf due to dangerous surf conditions

View Larger Map 

Here’s a map for the area.  Maybe we should just chalk this up to the major media outlets’ unfamiliarity with the two bodies of water, as the News Herald got it right and the major outlets whiffed.  Or, maybe the White House, desperate to show Obama swimming in once-polluted water, decided to move the dip spot to protected waters when they learned that the surf in the Gulf was too rough for swimming but didn’t bother or know to clarify that St. Andrew Bay is not part of the Gulf of Mexico.  I’m kind of leaning this way, because people who aren’t from around here often refer to the Gulf as “the ocean.”

Either way, Obama did NOT swim in the Gulf anymore than I did, here.