When President Obama gets elbowed in the mouth at a pickup basketball game at Fort McNair and needs 12 stitches, it’s only expected that media covering him will go wild. But at some point over the weekend, things sped out of control. The media began perseverating on every tissue of POTUS’s lip incident until it bordered on comical and inane.
First the White House Pooler reported that it was the top lip that got stitches. A future report corrected that erroneous detail, saying it was actually the lower left area of the bottom lip. “The White House says the President received stitches yesterday to the left side of his lower lip — that is, not the upper lip,” wrote Pooler and St. Petersburg Times staff writer Lou Jacobson, who previously referred to POTUS’s “bloody lip.” At every turn reporters placed POTUS’s lip under the media microscope — could they see the swelling? “Upon reviewing photo pool images taken by telephoto lens, I can report that POTUS’ face looks fine. There’s perhaps a very slight injury visible on the lip itself, but barely, and he’s not wearing a bandage of any kind. He certainly doesn’t seem to be hurting in any way,” wrote Jacobson.
Much was made of Reynaldo Decerega‘s non-apology. Like a game of Clue, it took at least three Pool reports to figure out that the Director of Programs for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute was “the culprit” after body man Reggie Love and Education Sec. Arne Duncan were conspicuously ruled out. Was it Professor Plum with the candlestick in the Library? Or, if playing an advanced version, Miss Peach in the Kitchen with poison? Indeed, it was Decerega on the basketball court with the elbow. Why no explicit “I’m sorry” the press wondered. Was he not sorry? It still wasn’t clear after Decerega released his statement commending POTUS on his basketball skills.
And then, the mother of all telling details – on Sunday, President Obama got “right back on the HORSE, playing hoops with his daughters at the Interior Dept. a few days after elbow to the mouth,” Politico‘s Glenn Thrush observed over Twitter, and played basketball with daughters Sasha and Malia. This, despite the fact that even little elbows can be especially sharp and dangerous. Thrush wasn’t the only reporter who felt the need to point out this telling quick return to basketball. The Daily Caller‘s Jon Ward and New York Daily News‘s Ken Bazinet and WaPo all swiftly noted the swiftness with which Obama returned to the basketball court: “Watch the lip: After taking in a game at Howard University Saturday, Obama is shooting hoops with his daughters this morning,” wrote @postpolitics.
But let’s not stop there. This morning WaPo dissected Mr. Lip Buster further in a feature story by Style writer Jason Horowitz. In it, we learn that Decerega was once voted “most mature” and “most popular.” In college he was dubbed “Nice Guy Rey.” Politico further got in on the bruised lip action with “The List: Obama in Stitches” remarking on everything from the number of search results for “Obama” and “stitches” to the number of stitches.
Time will tell if the media swelling goes down from here.