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After David Ortiz selfie, White House draws red line

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The White House drew a red line on Sunday.

Okay. It’s baseball. Call it a white line.

Turns out the selfie of Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz and President Obama — the one that was, in reality, part of a Samsung promotion — will likely be the last in the White House, if senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer was serious.

Pfeiffer told CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday that the president knew nothing about Samsung’s connection to the photo — and “perhaps maybe this will be the end of all selfies.”

The selfie has created quite a stir.

During a visit to the White House last week, the world champion Red Sox designated hitter presented the president with a commemorative No. 44 jersey — a moment Ortiz captured on his Samsung smartphone. Ortiz later tweeted the selfie from his Twitter account. Then Samsung retweeted it, saying that the company was “thrilled to see the special, historic moment David Ortiz captured with his Galaxy Note 3 during his White House visit.”

As of Monday morning, the picture had been retweeted more than 40,000 times despite the fact that the White House publicly warned Samsung against using the president’s likeness for profit a couple of days after the photo was taken. Pfeiffer said that White House attorneys were pursuing the matter:

“We’ve had conversations with Samsung about this and expressed our concerns. … We’ve left that conversation between the lawyers.”

Ortiz recently signed an endorsement deal with Samsung to be its “MLB social media insider.”

The day before the selfie, Sports Business Journal reported:

“In keeping with the trend that sees social media rising in importance to brand marketers, Samsung wants Ortiz to be its MLB social media insider. So when the Red Sox visit the White House this week to commemorate their World Series victory, ‘Big Papi’ will be tweeting and sending photos on Samsung’s behalf.”

The day after the selfie, Ortiz denied it was part of his new gig:

“When people went crazy over that, you don’t get to see anything like that every day. … It wasn’t anything promotional, anything like that. I mean, who knows that you’re going to take a picture with the president? How many people can guarantee that? It was something we don’t even have to talk about.”

Still, many are talking about it — including the White House.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a daily news briefing last week:

“I can tell you that as a rule the White House objects to attempts to use the president’s likeness for commercial purposes.  And we certainly object in this case.”


Lindsey Bever is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post. Tweet her: @lindseybever

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