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HalloweenGate: White House Covered Up 2009 Halloween Party Hosted by Johnny Depp & Tim Burton (With Near-Exclusive Photos)

Morgen on January 8, 2012 at 5:27 pm

As is often the case, the cover-up is worse than the crime:

A White House “Alice in Wonderland” costume ball — put on by Johnny Depp and Hollywood director Tim Burton — proved to be a Mad-as-a-Hatter idea that was never made public for fear of a political backlash during hard economic times, according to a new tell-all.

“The Obamas,” by New York Times correspondent Jodi Kantor, tells of the first Halloween party the first couple feted at the White House in 2009. It was so over the top that “Star Wars” creator George Lucas sent the original Chewbacca to mingle with invited guests.

The book reveals how any official announcement of the glittering affair — coming at a time when Tea Party activists and voters furious over the lagging economy, 10-percent unemployment rate, bank bailouts and Obama’s health-care plan were staging protests — quickly vanished down the rabbit hole.

“White House officials were so nervous about how a splashy, Hollywood-esque party would look to jobless Americans — or their representatives in Congress, who would soon vote on health care — that the event was not discussed publicly and Burton’s and Depp’s contributions went unacknowledged,” the book says.

However, the White House made certain that more humble Halloween festivities earlier that day — for thousands of Washington-area schoolkids — were well reported by the press corps.

The White House is going to spin this as “old news”, but it’s not old news if it’s never been reported. And it never was. The official White House blog post from 2009 covering this event made no mention of the Hollywood bash (and in retrospect seems a little defensive by highlighting Halloween parties hosted by previous Administrations). The official media pool report from Richard Wolf at the USA Today contained a significant amount of detail on the day’s events both inside and outside of the White House, and yet made no mention of the costume ball or the presence of Hollywood celebrities.

The only media report which mentioned Depp and Burton at all was the Chicago Sun-Times which referred to them only as “among the attendees”, in an article that is no longer even publicly available. Everyone else – including the Huffington Post, CNN, Reuters, and of course the NY Times – dutifully covered the President and First Lady handing out candy to visiting children, while reporting the evening’s festivities as a “reception for military families” and White House staffers.

I did some additional digging of my own and managed to find a few photos that apparently no one in the major media saw fit to report (via FanPop). This definitely looks like the White House to me.

And the money shot, which at some point FanPop disappeared:

But my favorite anecdote from this whole affair is this blog post which appeared on the White House web site on October 30, 2009. Now THIS is the very definition of audacity.

Update: As predicted, the White House is claiming this wasn’t a secret – via Politico:

“This was an event for local school children from the Washington DC area and for hundreds of military families. If we wanted this event to be a secret, we probably wouldn’t have invited the press corps to cover it, release photos of it to Flickr, or post a video from it on the White House website,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said in a statement. “Even Johnny Depp’s fans knew about it and posted on their website. Just goes to show you can’t believe everything you read in books these days.”

Funny that neither the White House blog post I linked above, nor the photos or video referenced by the White House spokesperson make any mention of Depp or Burton’s participation, or any “Alice in Wonderland” themed event at all.

News of the event apparently leaked to a small number of Depp fan sites (which is how I found these photos), but if the press assigned to cover the White House knew anything about it then they didn’t report it. Which is the whole point of this story to begin with.

Politico’s own report from 2009 made no mention of these details either.

Final update: Here’s an interesting little tidbit from an AP report in October 2009:

But the White House refused to say where Sasha and Malia Obama were celebrating Halloween and what the two girls were wearing, even though hundreds of other children their ages were in costume in full view of the media. The White House referred back to first lady Michelle Obama’s comment to Jay Leno, that finding out what Sasha and Malia were wearing would require “security clearance.”

I’m sure this secrecy had nothing to do with the fact that the costumes Sasha and Malia wore (see photo above) were clearly chosen to fit with the Alice in Wonderland themed event.

I know this may be one of the most ridiculous White House cover-ups of all time, but there is no question they tried to hide this from the public and are continuing to lie about it.

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