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Photo of President Obama's Reaction to Sandy Hook Shooting Briefing Is Incredibly Moving

by Maressa Brown on January 5, 2013 at 9:07 AM

president obama being told about sandy hookBeing the President of the United States, I'd venture to guess there's no such thing as an "easy" day per se, but some days are definitely more difficult than others. And then there are the worst days. December 14, 2012 was what President Obama said was "the worst day" of his presidency, because it was the day of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

In this incredibly moving photograph, taken by White House photographer Pete Souza, we see how President reacted as John Brennan briefed him on the details of the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut. It's, in a word, devastating.

Looking at this photo, you can't help but feel like you're right there with President Obama -- hearing the thoughts running through his mind when he learned the horrifying news. It's obvious his instinct had nothing to do with politics or publicity. He wasn't thinking in terms of follow-up legislation. No, it's apparent that he reacted, as he said, "not as a president but as anybody else would, as a parent."

There's something about seeing our President welling up, looking so sad, so dismayed, so crushed, so as a result of such a human tragedy that should hit any American right in the gut. If a leader is feeling that way, the entire nation must be overwhelmingly grief struck. We were. We still are.

But as poignant and haunting as it is, this photo still gives me hope for the future. It assures me that in the wake of this incomprehensible event, we clearly have the right man leading our country in the right direction.

How do you feel about this photo?


Image via The White House/Flickr

Filed Under: barack obama


  • Zamaria


    January 5, 2013 at 9:33 AM
    It's a picture of Obama leaning against a sofa talking to Brennan. His expression is serious, but I don't see a lot of emotion there...not sure what is so moving about this picture. I'm NOT saying that the president was unsympathetic or anything. I'm sure he greived as much as, if not more than, the rest of us. It Was a horrible tragedy. I'm just saying I don't get why this picture is so moving to you. He just looks like he's having a serious conversation IMO.
  • ASouza77


    January 5, 2013 at 9:37 AM

    I also don't see much emotion in this picture, besides the serious look on his face. He could have been discussing anything in this picture. Also, why in the world was a photographer there at the exact moment the President was being told what happened. Obama's presidency has been nothing but a giant photo-op!!!

  • Doomy234


    January 5, 2013 at 9:40 AM
    I agree that he was obviously grief stricken. However, just because he has human emotions does not make him a great president. It makes him human. Just because he is upset doesnt mean he is the right man for the job. I just dont understand how when people point out that he was sad, or can sing, or was caught sneaking his wife a kiss before a speech that that makes him a good president. It makes him a good man, yes. But just because I am polite and can cook doesnt mean I am qualified to run an engineering business.
  • Shandi80


    January 5, 2013 at 9:53 AM
    Souza, that's a good point. Does he have a photographer that follows him everywhere 24/7? I'm not trying to be a smarta**, just legitimately wondering.
  • RobJar


    January 5, 2013 at 9:57 AM
    I see the emotion in this photo.
  • luv2b...


    January 5, 2013 at 9:58 AM
    He's leaning against a couch looking serious!!?? Wow! I'm soooo moved over here...😒
    Seriously, stop exulting this guy like he can do no wrong. It's getting old...

  • anton...


    January 5, 2013 at 10:17 AM

    Whether he felt real emotion or not, as I"m sure every single parent in america did..this photo was obviously staged. "Oh let's just randomly happen to have a camera here to pick up this picture of this very important moment" The american public is so stupid

  • Eye Roll
    -- Nonmember comment from

    Eye Roll

    January 5, 2013 at 10:20 AM
    You are reading a bit much into the image. Of course, it is a step up from sitting there like a d-bag with a picture book on your lap and a thousand yard stare...
  • teach
    -- Nonmember comment from


    January 5, 2013 at 10:25 AM
    There is a white house photographer that is constantly taking pictures and they are released to the public. This picture is one of many that were recently released from the past year in the white house. Pretty common for a sitting president- so if you are going to make accusations accusing someone of using a tragedy for a photo-op you better get your facts straight. There are many photos of George Bush on and around September 11th that were captured in a similar manner and I certainly do not think he was aiming for a photo-opportunity-just doing his job and getting his picture taken.
  • teach
    -- Nonmember comment from


    January 5, 2013 at 10:25 AM
    and tuffymama-you could stand to do some fact checking. Like most people on here you like to place the blame game and get your information from bias sites....or even worse you must cherry pick your facts, because if you were basing your opinion on all of the information presented you certainly would not have said what you said. And before you try to jump on me as some sort of kool-aid Obama follower-that I am not. What I am is someone who believes in the whole truth and I get so sick and tired of people who will find a negative where there is none to be found (like a candid photo taken from a white house photographer). Bush was not a dang war criminal and Obama did not want to see men he KNEW murdered in Benghazi. Argue over philosophy and policy all day long but this idiotic comments making our leaders out to be evil is ridiculous!
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