On Day of Michelle Obama Garden Photo-Op, CBS Trumpets: 'One Thing That is Already Growing' is Her 'Popularity'

ABC and NBC on Wednesday night managed to contain to a brief item their enthusiasm for First Lady Michelle Obama planting her garden for the season, but not CBS which dedicated a full story to how the hula-hooping First Lady “is enjoying the kind of popularity her husband would jump through hoops for.”

Employing some creative puns playing off the gardening theme, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric plugged the upcoming topic: “The First Lady planting a garden and harvesting a bumper crop of good will.” And on CBSNews.com: “Michelle Obama Blooms in the White House; Back in the White House Garden, the First Lady's Popularity is Already Growing by the Bushel.” On air, Couric set up the story:
It is spring and Michelle Obama was back in her White House garden today. Nancy Cordes tells us one thing that is already growing is the First Lady's popularity.
Cordes recounted how “her approval ratings stand at 78 percent, higher than her recent predecessors at similar points in their husband's presidencies. She has settled on a signature issue: childhood obesity,” used “her clout to chide grocery manufacturers” and even partook in “hula-hooping to show children how easy it is to get exercise.”

Over video of the First Lady's digging her hands into dirt, Cordes credited her popularity to how “she hasn't been afraid to get her hands dirty” by taking “fashion risks,” “political risks” and by “granting an interview to right-leaning Fox News before her husband would.”

Quite a tough diet for DC's homeless, who last year were provided with some of what gew in the South Lawn garden. Cordes related: “The First Lady and her army of pre-teen planters added bok choy, artichokes, and mustard greens to the White House garden today...”

Bok choy, artichokes and mustard greens. Hard to see many of the homeless lining up for those.

Earlier puffery for the current FLOTUS:
January: “ABC Fawns Over 'Every Woman' Michelle Obama Who 'Wows' the World.”

October: “CBS's Schieffer Hails First Lady Frolic on White House Lawn.”
The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide this transcript of the story on the Wednesday, March 31 CBS Evening News:
KATIE COURIC: It is spring and Michelle Obama was back in her White House garden today. Nancy Cordes tells us one thing that is already growing is the First Lady's popularity.

MICHELLE OBAMA: You guys, will you show me what to do so I can-

NANCY CORDES: The First Lady and her army of pre-teen planters added bok choy, artichokes, and mustard greens to the White House garden today, which weathered Washington's wild winter under a cozy plastic covering.

MICHELLE OBAMA CLIP #1: Would you ever imagine that what you did last year would lead to all of this?

MICHELLE OBAMA CLIP #2: Can I have some hugs?

CORDES: Fourteen months into her tenure as First Lady, Michelle Obama is enjoying the kind of popularity her husband would jump through hoops for. Her approval ratings stand at 78 percent, higher than her recent predecessors at similar points in their husband's presidencies. She has settled on a signature issue: childhood obesity.

MICHELLE OBAMA: -because cheese isn't bad, especially when you're a kid.

CORDES: Using her clout to chide grocery manufacturers.

MICHELLE OBAMA: We need you all to step it up.

CORDES: Even hula hooping to show children how easy it is to get exercise.

KATHERINE TALLMADGE, AMERICAN DIABETIC ASSOCIATION: I love the way that  Mrs. Obama has stressed the simple things that people can change to make a huge difference in their lives.

CORDES: She's taken fashion risks, yes, but political risks, too – addressing the issue of race-

MICHELLE OBAMA: There were kids around my neighborhood who would say, “Oh, you talk funny, you talk like a white girl."

CORDES: -and granting an interview to right-leaning Fox News before her husband would.

MICHELLE OBAMA TO MIKE HUCKABEE: You know, this is a solve-able issue.

CORDES: In short, she hasn't been afraid to get her hands dirty, which seems to have gone over well with most Americans. Nancy Cordes, CBS News, Washington.
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