TV Journalists Enchanted by Obamas: 'America's Unofficial Royalty'

“There is so much to cover on this day,” ABC anchor Charles Gibson announced Tuesday night from London as the network anchors and reporters reflected their awe over how, as NBC anchor Brian Williams put it, “In a marathon, the President meets with the leaders of Britain, Russia, China, then the Queen, and the summit hasn't started yet.” NBC's Chuck Todd then admired how “the President was able to do a diplomatic decathlon, packing in a week's worth of international diplomacy into 12 hours,” before he hailed how “America's unofficial royalty, the President and First Lady, reconnected tonight for more ceremonial duties, including a private audience with actual royalty, the Queen herself.”
 
CBS and NBC devoted full stories to what the CBS Evening News dubbed on screen as “Michelle Mania.” Katie Couric teased: “The British give America's First Lady a welcome fit for a Queen.” On NBC, Williams echoed: “There is no denying the Obamas from America are receiving a rock star reception on this trip. One London paper today called them 'American royalty.'”

From London, Williams opened the NBC Nightly News with a list of President Obama's “marathon day” of activities:
In this city, for the visiting American President and his wife, this was a marathon day of pageantry, protests and politics stretching from early morning well into tonight. It started with the President meeting with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown at Number 10 Downing Street. Then a news conference, then, a meeting with Medvedev of Russia, then a discussion with him of arms reductions. Then a meeting with the President of China, and President Obama's announcement that he'll be going to China later this year. What might have been the highlight of the day followed. The Obamas were invited to meet privately with the Queen, who has now met eleven U.S. Presidents. Then it was off to tonight's working dinner among the leaders.
Similarly, and also from London, Charles Gibson led ABC's World News:
Good evening. President Obama has said the world is hungry for American leadership. He spent the day here in London working to prove it, trying to find unity on how to tackle the world's economic problems. And, he is forging personal relationships with heads of state, some of whom have not recently had warm things to say about the U.S. But there was also an opportunity for the President and First Lady to enjoy the privileges of office. Not everyone gets invited for a visit with the Queen. There is so much to cover on this day.
More from the Tuesday, April 1 NBC Nightly News:

The tease from Brian Williams tease:
On the broadcast tonight, from London: Down to business. In a marathon, the President meets with the leaders of Britain, Russia, China, then the Queen, and the summit hasn't started yet.

....

And star power. First Lady Michelle Obama takes the stage here in London. Tonight, the first reviews are in.
Williams led the newscast:
And good evening from London. In this city, for the visiting American President and his wife, this was a marathon day of pageantry, protests and politics stretching from early morning well into tonight. It started with the President meeting with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown at number ten Downing Street. Then a news conference, then, a meeting with Medvedev of Russia, then a discussion with him of arms reductions. Then a meeting with the President of China, and President Obama's announcement that he'll be going to China later this year. What might have been the highlight of the day followed. The Obamas were invited to meet privately with the Queen, who has now met eleven U.S. Presidents. Then it was off to tonight's working dinner among the leaders.
From Chuck Todd's report:
In just a few short hours, the President was able to do a diplomatic decathlon, packing in a week's worth of international diplomacy into 12 hours....

America's unofficial royalty, the President and First Lady, reconnected tonight for more ceremonial duties, including a private audience with actual royalty, the Queen herself....

No gathering of world leaders is complete without the yearbook-like group photo, with the new star of the world stage right in the center. Now, Brian, there's already buzz about the President's gift to the Queen. It's an iPod with photos of her 2007 state visit, plus a signed copy of a Richard Rogers song book, the Broadway musical. The Queen's gift to the Obamas: a signed silver framed picture of herself and her husband.
The glowing look at Michelle Obama, in a transcript provided by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth who corrected the closed-captioning against the video:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: Finally here tonight, they are just one couple among all the leaders gathered here for this summit, and yet there is no denying the Obamas from America are receiving a rock star reception on this trip. One London paper today called them "American royalty." The President's one thing, but millions of people are just watching Michelle Obama, wondering what she will wear, wondering where she will show up next. Our report tonight from NBC's Dawna Friesen.

DAWNA FRIESEN: From the moment the Obamas landed in Britain, hand in hand, many here were already star-struck.

EVE POLLARD, WRITER AND JOURNALIST: She is a woman of our time, and I think the respect that women, particularly, have for her is enormous.

FRIESEN: Here, they're calling it "Michelle's magic." There's the media fascination with her clothes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE VOICE: In the sparkly cardigan and skirt-

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE VOICE: -cream cardigan by. J. Crew-

FRIESEN: But awareness, too, that with her Ivy League education and relaxed, easy charm, she's impressive. Whether meeting Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his wife Sarah, or visiting a cancer care clinic, where she quickly made friends.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Very chatty, easy to talk to.
    
FRIESEN: Then it was off to the palace. There's always a crowd here at the palace to see the Queen. But today, it's America's First Family that's the big draw. Elegant and understated, there was a handshake but no curtsy. Never mind. Mrs. Obama seems to have made another new friend. Now that we've met, let's stay in touch, the Queen told her. A relief, no doubt, for the First Lady, because, the President admitted earlier, she was a bit nervous about it all.

BARACK OBAMA: As you might imagine, Michelle has been really thinking of that, too.

FRIESEN: Aware, surely, that she's been hailed by the fashion press as a modern-day Jacqueline Kennedy, who dazzled Brits when she met the Queen.

LESLEY WHITE, SUNDAY TIMES MAGAZINE: She just feels so much more of the moment, which is to do with how she looks and to do with combining family and career and juggling all the sorts of things that women do every day, which makes her just seem more like one of us.

FRIESEN: And she's not alone, breaking new ground as First Lady. Other wives of G-20 leaders in London include a lawyer from the Netherlands, an opera singer from Spain, and a politician and AIDS activist from Ethiopia. One star who's not here, Carla Bruni, the wife of the French president who captivated the British on a trip here last year. She'll meet the Obamas in France on Friday, leaving the limelight in London tonight to the woman who may well be the most famous First Lady in the world. Dawna Friesen, NBC News, London.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center