Description: Viral image
Circulating since: Sep. 2011
Analysis: The readers who forwarded me the above image questioned its authenticity ("Looks Photoshopped?" asked one), but it is an actual news photo taken at the Waldorf Astoria just before the start of the Open Government Partnership summit at the United Nations on September 20, 2011.
It's also the very definition of a Presidential faux pas, with shutters still snapping as Barack Obama raised his hand in a goofy wave to members of the press pool, completely obscuring the face of Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, the President of Mongolia, in the process.
Aside from the fact that the image is credited to a legitimate photographer (Allan Tannenbaum) and released by a legitimate agency (Getty Images), I can offer no better proof of its authenticity than another photo from a Turkish website showing the same awkward moment from a slightly different angle.
In a September 21 blog post, CNN's Becky Brittain explained how the blooper moment came to pass:
This time, President Obama was hosting a summit for countries devoted to the “Open Government Partnership”. We waited with the media from dozens of other countries, all there to cover their respective presidents or prime ministers. Before the meeting began, we lined up and waited to enter the “family photo-op”, a staged photo of all the participating leaders. The White House had given us a head start into the room but soon all of the other international media came charging in behind us! Lots of pushing and shoving ensued while the leaders stood smiling. Finally President Obama waved, indicating the photo-op would soon be over. We were unceremoniously rushed out of the room and back into the Grand Ballroom, the world media stepping trampling itself. Like every other class photo at every other international meeting, it always turns into a media circus no matter what level of planning has gone into it.
Brittain's commentary includes yet another photo taken during the same session which, though not nearly as popular with pundits and bloggers, is free of embarrassing gestures.
Sources and further reading:
President Obama Joins Open Government Partnership for Group Photo
MSNBC.com PhotoBlog, 20 September 2011
Hurry Up and Wait!! A Behind-the-Scenes in Travel Pool
CNN.com, 21 September 2011
Last updated 09/22/11