On Tuesday, conservative news outlets in the United States decided that the best way to commemorate the life of Nelson Mandela, and to report on the memorial services in his honor, was to manufacture a controversy about an AFP photo of President Barack Obama shooting a selfie with Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt. According to Fox News, the “international incident” was so bad that, “The tsk-tisk-ing could be heard across continents.”
Liberal news outlets countered with a photograph from former President George W. Bush’s Instagram feed, taken at the same memorial, in which he’s seen posing with pop star Bono.
Two things were lost amid the nonsensical partisan wrangling. First, the furor shamefully overshadowed the memorial service itself, and the heartfelt messages that were delivered by Mandela’s family and colleagues. Second, such outcries overlook the close quarters in which our Democratic and Republican politicians actually live and work.
Candid images from White House photographer Pete Souza tell another story.