December 13, 2017

Leave Malia Obama Alone: Media Should Focus on More Pressing Issues

Malia Obama walking with her father and former president Barack Obama in Chicago April 7, 2016. Photo courtesy of Mandel NGAN/AFP/Getty.

by Bridget Blain ’19

Opinion Staff

It can sometimes be easy to forget that a person in the public eye is still a real human being who can be very negatively affected by what is said about him or her in the media. It is even worse when the person being speculated about did not actively choose to be in the public eye in the first place.

This is what happened to former first daughter Malia last week when videos of her smoking at a college party surfaced on social media and quickly spread. Malia was suddenly on the front page of virtually every major news outlet and was being talked about on social media. It seemed as though the world had forgotten that Malia is just a 19-year-old college freshman who did not choose to be the daughter of a former president.

Former first daughter Chelsea Clinton and Ivanka Trump both came to Malia’s defense on Twitter. Chelsea and Ivanka, representing both sides of the political spectrum, both emphasized that Malia’s personal life should be off-limits to the media, and she should be able to live a normal life as a private citizen. Especially in today’s political climate, it is telling that both first daughters agree that the recent focus on Malia is uncalled for and inappropriate.

Chelsea especially has insight into what Obama is experiencing, as she was only 13 when her father was elected president. Just because a child is living in the White House does not mean he or she should constantly be under observation and face public scrutiny.

This is not the first time a video or photo of Malia has been leaked to the media. Both Malia and Sasha Obama have been photographed at college parties and at music festivals. There is absolutely no reason that the personal lives of the daughters of a former president should be front page news.

Malia and Sasha did not ask for their father to become the president and now that their father is out of office, their privacy should be respected. It is a total violation of privacy to release photos of a young woman who did not have any choice in becoming a public figure. Malia was only 18 years old when her father left office and has every right to be a normal college student. While Malia’s peers and the media cannot ignore that she is the daughter of a former president, her father’s political role does not mean that all of her personal moments should be put on display.

There is not a single college student who would want all of their personal moments, whether positive or negative, to live on the Internet forever. The children of presidents do not ask for their family to be put in that position.

Coming to the defense of Malia Obama is something that both sides of the spectrum should have in common, as the statements made by Chelsea Clinton and Ivanka Trump show. This is not a political issue, but a responsibility to respect the privacy of a young woman who did not ask to be in the spotlight in the first place.

2 thoughts on “Leave Malia Obama Alone: Media Should Focus on More Pressing Issues

  • Dr. Shawnee M. Daniels Sykes says:

    I am in defense of Malia Obama. Nowadays anything can be photo shopped or added a picture to make something like smoking a lie or to defame the character of someone. I do not believe what I am reading and/or seeing on social media or expanded upon in print media about Malia. As a first year student at Harvard, I believe that she does not have time to waste on an extensive social life anyway; she is very focused on the environment, physical and mental health. Smoking would be contrary to who she is and what she champions. Remember that she continues to be under the protection of the secret service too who would not let her get into harms way or someone getting close to her, especially in public to engage in kissing. So I put out positive notes and perspectives about Malia and that is that. Malia, you make me and so many of us so proud. Do not let smear tactics create a barrier to your academic success and well-being. I know that you have heard that many times. Carry on and follow in the footsteps toward greatness.

  • Jimmy G says:

    Yes….photoshopping…it must have been. I am certain that she would not smoke. She would not have time to go to a football game nevermind kiss a boy. I am guessing that many of the photos showing her at Harvard and the White House were photoshopped. Do we know for CERTAIN that the Obamas really have children? – liberal professor paid to influence young people.

    The Obama children may not have chosen to become public figures, but I am sure that they don’t refuse the benefits. Keep in mind that the mother of this young smoker thinks that it is her calling to FORCE others to do certain things and eat what SHE says is good for them. They are pro-choice…except when they are not. Boy…is Malia going to get a talking to when she goes home for non-holiday break! I’m wondering if they will pull her out of school in an effort to coerce her to do what they say (not what THEY do).

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