Politico confirmed this morning:
Kristina Schake, Communications Director to the First Lady, emails to confirm this was a White House effort:
From the beginning of the administration, the White House has asked news outlets not to report on or photograph the Obama children when they are not with their parents and there is no vital news interest. We have reminded outlets of this request in order to protect the privacy and security of these girls.
Refraining from photographing the first daughters makes sense, but there appear to be at least three news angles to this story. One, the first daughter’s spring break comes at a time when Americans are advised against traveling to Mexico due to the deteriorating security environment there. Two, the cost of the trip to the taxpayer. The scrubbed reports all agree that 25 Secret Service agents have accompanied the first daughter and her friends on the trip. American taxpayers are picking up those and undoubtedly other costs associated with this trip. Three, the White House’s relationship to and influence on the mainstream media.
The spring story isn’t the first time the Obama White House has sought to control media coverage. In February 2011, the White House banned a pool reporter from the San Francisco Chronicle for using a small video camera, at a media event at Facebook’s headquarters. In May 2011, the White House censored a mildly negative piece about the first lady in an obscure California newspaper. So far the White House’s efforts to scrub the spring break story have been mostly successful, with stories originating in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia all disappearing from the Web, while one in a Canadian publication remains online.
The Mexico visit is at least the 17th vacation or trip the first family has taken in the three years since President Obama’s inauguration.