CBS ‘Early Show’ Offers Puff Pieces on Michelle Obama

Harry Smith, CBS In preparation for Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democratic convention, Monday’s CBS Early Show continued it’s fawning over the wife of the presidential candidate as co-host Harry Smith declared: "Michelle Obama steps out tonight to address the nation. Is she Barack's best asset?" The show featured three segments on Michelle Obama, two of which were complete fluff.

In the first segment, Bianca Solorzano looked at five things that people might not know about Michelle Obama: "Michelle Obama is known for her fashion-forward style, but when it comes to her style of eating, she likes good old-fashioned comfort food. We asked close friend and family confidant Valerie Jarrett to give us the inside scoop, beginning with Michelle's favorite food." Jarrett replied: "Oh, that's easy, French fries." Jarrett is of course an Obama campaign worker, in addition to being a "family confidant." It was also revealed that Michelle Obama exercises daily, her favorite singer is Stevie Wonder, and she watched the ‘Dick Van Dyke Show’ as a child. In June, the Early Show did a similar segment on Barack Obama and informed viewers that he "loves to play scrabble" but "does not like ice cream."

Solorzano went on to highlight how outspoken Michelle Obama is: "Another thing close to Michelle's heart -- honest views." A clip was played of Obama appearing on ABC’s The View claiming that: "People aren't used to strong women."

Later in the show, Smith talked to liberal political operative Laura Schwartz about Michelle Obama’s fashion sense: "Tonight, Michelle Obama will command a national audience. Americans will not only analyze what she has to say, they'll also pay keen attention to what she wears." Schwartz later observed: "She wore black leggings and black and white sun dress from the Gap. Flew off the shelves that same day. So we are seeing that she is setting a trend, not just in politics, but really in everybody's everyday lives."

Smith replied to that comment by explaining: "How interesting is it though, that so much focus is on that and here's this very serious person. Went to Harvard, big time lawyer, community organizer, all of this stuff in her biography and there really is -- what she does resonates throughout huge portions of the populace." Schwartz added: "Especially if Barack Obama wins and she does indeed become the First Lady. I think she's honored to be known as some sort of budding political fashion icon. But at the same time, I think she wants people to focus tonight especially on what she has to say." Schwartz also concluded: "...whatever she wears tonight could be in your closets tomorrow."

The one instance of objectivity came during a brief report by Jeff Greenfield on the substanative political implications of Michelle Obama’s speech. Greenfield mentioned some of the controversy created by Obama’s past comments: "What did she mean when she said: [clip of Michelle Obama speaking] For the first time in my adult lifetime, I'm really proud of my country." Greenfield went on to wonder about Obama’s elitism: "Can a health care executive with an Ivy League degree, a mid six-figure income and seven-figure home relate to the average American?"

Here is the full transcript of the first segment:

7:00AM TEASER:

HARRY SMITH: Michelle Obama steps out tonight to address the nation. Is she Barack's best asset? We'll preview her speech.

7:01AM TEASER:

SMITH: And we'll also focus on Michelle Obama, who will address the convention tonight, so much speculation about what she has to say and even what she's going to wear.

7:12AM TEASER:

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Also, what you don't know about Michelle Obama -- her favorite food is French fries -- plus, something that she does every day. We will reveal that.

7:30AM TEASER:

SMITH: Also ahead, tonight is Michelle Obama's big night in Denver. What are we going to see? What is she going to have to say? When we talked to Barack Obama last week, one of the things we asked was do you know what she's going to wear. Not even he knew. Did you know that Stevie Wonder was her favorite singer? We're going to tell you some other things you don't know about Michelle Obama in just a bit.

7:37AM TEASER:

SMITH: Coming up, before she makes her big speech tonight in Denver, we're going to tell you five things you did not know about Michelle Obama.

7:41AM SEGMENT:

HARRY SMITH: As Barack Obama's wife, Michelle, takes center stage tonight at the Democratic convention. CBS News correspondent Bianca Solorzano reveals five things you don't know about Mrs. Obama.

BIANCA SOLORZANO: Michelle Obama is known for her fashion-forward style, but when it comes to her style of eating, she likes good old-fashioned comfort food. We asked close friend and family confidant Valerie Jarrett to give us the inside scoop, beginning with Michelle's favorite food.

VALERIE JARRETT: Oh, that's easy, French fries.

MICHELLE OBAMA: We've got extra fries.

JARRETT: Whenever we're on the road, we've had a long day, we're looking for a way to have French fries and if we've been really good, than we get to have a cheese burger to go along with our French fries.

SOLORZANO: But how does she keep such a buff body? Number four on the list, that's right, Michelle burns off the junk food by being an exercise junky, recently admitting to Ebony magazine that she used to wake up at 4:30 A.M. to work out. These days she gets a good workout running with daughters Sasha and Malia. Next on the list -- music.

STEPHEN COLBERT: L is for the way you look at me

OBAMA: He has a better voice.

SOLORZANO: While Obama may sing better than Steven Colbert, you may wonder who Michelle's all-time favorite singer is.

JARRETT: Very early on, in the Senate campaign, Barack was with Stevie Wonder and he had Stevie call Michelle. And he said he said 'hi this, is Stevie Wonder' and I think she just about melted. When they got married, they played 'You and I' as they walked down the aisle together. So Stevie is her heart.

SOLORZANO: Another thing close to Michelle's heart -- honest views.

OBAMA: People aren't used to strong women.

JOY BEHAR: No.

OBAMA: And I don't think -- that there are times we don't even know how to talk about them.

JARRETT: She's the kind of person where don't say 'Michelle, what do you think?' When sometimes you don't really want to know because she's going to tell you what she really thinks.

OBAMA: There are many women like myself who are independent, strong-

SOLORZANO: Finally, we were even able to stump Valerie on something. What Michelle watched as a kid.

JARRETT: Michelle is kind of a studier. My guess is she was reading books rather than looking at television when she was little.

SOLORZANO: Wrong, in fact, Michelle Obama's favorite TV show was-

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: 'The Dick Van Dyke show.' Starring Dick Van Dyke.

SOLORZANO: Bianca Solarzano, CBS News, New York.

SMITH: And lots more ahead from Denver in just a little bit.

 

Here is the full transcript of the second segment:

7:52AM TEASER:

HARRY SMITH: And coming up in our next hour, more on the style of Michelle Obama. And the substance too. A big speech tonight and a movie that we've heard is going to be unforgettable.

8:00AM TEASER:

SMITH: Michelle's big night. Barack Obama's wife will give a major speech at the convention. We'll have a preview.

8:04AM SEGMENT:

HARRY SMITH: Tonight Michelle Obama makes her official entrance onto the national stage, as one of two women likely to be the next First Lady of the United States. CBS News chief political correspondent Jeff Greenfield reports.

JEFF GREENFIELD: She has been smiling out on America for months on her own and with her husband, and their two girls, on magazine covers, and on television shows, where hot button issues often take second place to less cosmic concerns.

MICHELLE OBAMA: I stopped wearing panty hose a long time ago because it was painful.

GREENFIELD: But as she prepares for her convention speech tonight, Michelle Obama knows that she will be under a heightened level of scrutiny, as millions of Americans look at her with the knowledge that she is one of two women, a candidate of sorts, whose words, dress, and demeanor have already been the subject of intense scrutiny. What did she mean when she said-

OBAMA: For the first time in my adult lifetime, I'm really proud of my country.

GREENFIELD: Can a health care executive with an Ivy League degree, a mid six-figure income and seven-figure home relate to the average American? But wait a minute, why should this matter at all? Why should voters care at all about the president's spouse? Well, the fact is, they always have. 'Time' magazine's Joe Klein.

JOE KLEIN: Who she is a -- is the most intimate reflection of who he is.

GREENFIELD: So Mary Todd Lincoln was attacked in the press for her expensive tastes and her confederate relatives. When president Rutherford Hayes' wife Lucy banned liquor from the White House in the late 19th century, she was dubbed 'Lemonade Lucy.' Eleanor Roosevelt's frequent field trips to the forgotten corners of America and her lobbying for liberal causes earned her affection on the left and fierce enmity on the right. Nancy Reagan was criticized for everything from her taste in China to the use of astrologers to help plan her husband's schedule. And Hillary Clinton's role as a key policy advisor to her husband made her something of a lightning rod. But Michelle Obama faces a special test. Because her husband is still relatively unknown to millions of voters, she must make the case that she and her husband share America's concerns and shares their values. That process begins tonight. Jeff Greenfield, CBS News, at the Democratic convention in Denver.

SMITH: And in a moment, Michelle Obama's fashion statement or the statement she'll make tonight.

 

Here is the full transcript of the third segment:

8:10AM SEGMENT:

HARRY SMITH: Tonight, Michelle Obama will command a national audience. Americans will not only analyze what she has to say, they'll also pay keen attention to what she wears. And joining us is Laura Schwartz, former advisor to Teresa Heinz Kerry and also long-time operative in the White House, what was your title there again?

LAURA SCHWARTZ: Political fashionista. Yeah, no I was a special assistant to the President and director of events. And as you know, Harry, the visual counts. And that counts whether it's the big set we have behind us or the dress that you have on when you're saying your speech.

SMITH: Wow, Michelle Obama, really there is this whole thing about what is she going to wear? What is she-

SCHWARTZ: There is. There is. She's spending the next -- she's been on the 'Vanity Fair's' best-dressed list two years in a row. We've seen her on the campaign trail in everything from beautiful ruffled blouses in Puerto Rico to leggings on the Fourth of July. Where she's never more comfortable than when she's just in those leggings and the sun dress lets her run around after her kids, plus look great on the trail.

SMITH: What -- how would you describe her style?

SCHWARTZ: I describe as like a comfortable chic, Harry, because she's very chic. She wears those long, stiff dresses, they're very tailored, clean lines. But at the same time, she's always comfortable in everything she's wearing. And that comes through in confidence.

SMITH: Right. Now what would be her favorite things to wear?

SCHWARTZ: That is the leggings and sun dress. In fact, this year on July 4, she and her husband and family were in Butte, Montana. She wore black leggings and black and white sun dress from the Gap. Flew off the shelves that same day. So we are seeing that she is setting a trend, not just in politics, but really in everybody's everyday lives.

SMITH: How interesting is it though, that so much focus is on that and here's this very serious person. Went to Harvard, big time lawyer, community organizer, all of this stuff in her biography and there really is -- what she does resonates throughout huge portions of the populace.

SCHWARTZ: Especially if Barack Obama wins and she does indeed become the First Lady. I think she's honored to be known as some sort of budding political fashion icon. But at the same time, I think she wants people to focus tonight especially on what she has to say.

SMITH: Right. Here's the question so many people make comparisons with her and Jackie O, fair comparisons?

SCHWARTZ: Very fair. If you just look at their builds to begin with, both long and slender, Jackie O, was 5'7", Michelle Obama's 5'11". They both have small children. So it was this comfortable chic again, where you saw Jackie O in India in these beautiful dresses. We've seen that of Michelle Obama. But at the same time, on the campaign trail she's in a white tank and tan slacks and still pulls it off.

SMITH: You could say she wears it well. Now here's the deal, what do you know from your sources because you're plugged in-

SCHWARTZ: I am plugged in Harry.

SMITH: -what she's going -- what's she going to wear out there?

SCHWARTZ: And I heard tonight, she went shopping last week in Chicago, the rumor is she's buying off the rack.

SMITH: Right.

SCHWARTZ: Which means whatever she wears tonight could be in your closets tomorrow. Very, very exciting. And it looks like it'll be a dress, not a suit.

SMITH: Really?

SCHWARTZ: Yes.

SMITH: Because I just heard the opposite on another network yesterday.

SCHWARTZ: Well, we'll see which comes true, she actually has about three choices and hasn't made the final decision yet.

SMITH: Alright, Laura Schwartz, you know your stuff.

SCHWARTZ: I try, Harry.

SMITH: Thanks so much.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC