A White House reporter who got an unprecedented look inside Saudi Arabia during President Barack Obama's visit and tweeted some of what she saw launched herself into a social media explosion.
Carrie Budoff Brown with Politico traveled with the president, his entourage, including Secretary of State John Kerry, and other journalists when Obama visited King Abdullah late last week.
Brown described flying over dry, dusty terrain that one might expect of a country in the Middle East and went onto note the transformation when they approached Abdullah’s outpost in a country where news is heavily restricted.
"Then, off in the distance, there was greenery — verdant trees and lush grass — and a compound of buildings and tents that matched the color of sand. It reminded me of the many times we flew into Las Vegas during the 2008 presidential campaign, the lights and glitzy hotels so jarring against the desert landscape," she wrote for Politico Sunday.
"What we found inside was something straight off a movie set," she continued, later describing being inside the building where the president and Abdullah were to meet. "Tall bowls with wrapped chocolates stacked in precise rows. Fresh flowers on every coffee table. A massive gold clock the size of an armoire. Satin upholstery, crystal chandeliers, oriental rugs and luxurious couches with perfectly place pillows. Photos of the king hung on the walls, including one of him almost touching noses with a horse."
King Abdullah's retreat, main entrance at dusk pic.twitter.com/IAprf6FEEy— Carrie Budoff Brown (@cbudoffbrown) March 28, 2014
Chocolate centerpieces and lush flowers -- just about everywhere at King Abdullah's desert ranch pic.twitter.com/1uUcd6QyYZ— Carrie Budoff Brown (@cbudoffbrown) March 28, 2014
The spread pic.twitter.com/ZduxGh0EST— Carrie Budoff Brown (@cbudoffbrown) March 29, 2014
Like other reporters, Brown snapped as many photos as she could and posted them to Twitter where they took off. Her social media coverage garnered both criticism and praise.
Scene from a bilat pic.twitter.com/FszCg7e4s5— Carrie Budoff Brown (@cbudoffbrown) March 28, 2014
Brown wasn't the only one though who documented that the 89-year-old king wasn't in the best of health. The Associated Press reported that he was breathing with the aid of an oxygen tank.
The inside look at the visit, which took place Friday, landed Brown 2,000 new followers within an hour of her first tweets. By Sunday afternoon, her images going viral, Brown had more than 16,200 new followers, according to the account she wrote on Politico in the wake of her coverage on social media.
Many supported Brown's posts as well.
@cbudoffbrown actually Saudi media is not allowed to declare the king condition.But once Carrie arrive,all people know what happening.Thanks— QaTaRaT (@QaTaRaT__) March 29, 2014
on behalf of Saudis, thanks for letting us see what inside King Abdullah's retreat. It has been a such a big secret.. @cbudoffbrown— Otaibi (@A_A_2001) March 28, 2014
In her post, Brown noted that she was joined in sharing images on Twitter by other reporters in the White House pool and said that no officials — Saudi Arabian or American — attempted to stop them.
(H/T: Daily Mail)