By Alex Kingsbury, Washington Whispers
Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero was in for a rude shock if he thought the same privacy conventions that shield the children of public figures in his home country would extend to the United States. Zapatero brought his wife and two daughters along on his trip to New York for the opening session of the United Nations General Assembly, and on Wednesday he and his family posed for a photograph with President Obama at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The photo caused a huge stir in Spain because the public had never before seen an image of its leader's children, ages 13 and 16, who appeared in the photograph sporting slightly gothic attire.
The photo, credited in the Spanish press to White House photog Lawrence Jackson, was posted on the State Department Flickr site, according to sources. Conservative news outlets in Spain prominently featured the photograph of the Socialist leader's family—with the faces slightly pixilated to comply with the country's aforementioned privacy laws concerning minors—in their papers and on their websites. The conservative El Mundo newspaper put the photograph on Page A1. The liberal El Pais, meanwhile, ran a detailed explainer about why it was not publishing the offending image.
After a request by the Spanish government, the White House removed the photograph from the State Department website. But it was too late. Many Spanish in-boxes today were flooded with a series of E-mails with the photograph—obviously altered—depicting the two teens as members of the Addams Family, the band KISS, and J.R.R. Tolkien's troll-like Orcs.
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