After Obama Criticism of Reality Show Culture, Kardashian-Obsessed NBC Suddenly Agrees

While NBC's Today has done 35 stories on the Kardashians in the past six months and frequently promotes the family's reality show, a panel discussion on Tuesday's program posed this question: "Are We Keeping Up Too Much With the Kardashians?" Why the sudden introspection? It might have something to do President Obama being critical of a culture in which kids are "monitoring every day what Kim Kardashian was wearing or where Kanye West was going on vacation, and thinking that somehow that was the mark of success." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

Early in the segment, co-host Matt Lauer played a sound bite of Kardashian mom Kris Jenner hitting back at Obama. Panelist Abby Huntsman, the new co-host of MSNBC's The Cycle, ran to the President's defense: "Of course she's going to use every opportunity to seize this attention....You have the most powerful man in the world mentioning your daughter....I'm not sure if she totally understood what the President was trying to say when he was talking about this whole American dream."

Attorney Star Jones chimed in:

Yes. I think the President was trying to explain that hard work and education is what will get the vast majority of young people the success that we all crave. When you see young people like Kim Kardashian – who does work extremely hard and I like her as a young lady – and Kanye West with their excessive lifestyle, kids start to think, "I too, can do that and be that," when the vast majority can not. We don't live in the reality world. The vast majority can only succeed with real hard work and real education.

Only advertising executive Donny Deutsch hinted at the hypocrisy of the media being critical of the celebrity culture they promote: "How many hours do we celebrate the royals? Which is just a fantasy. This is a reality fantasy. So why not show it to kids that maybe can get it?"


Here is a full transcript of the August 13 segment:

7:38AM ET TEASE:

MATT LAUER: And Kris Jenner fires back at the President over what she felt was his criticism of the Kardashians' lifestyle.

8:36AM ET TEASE:

LAUER: Up next, Today's Professionals weigh in on a little dust-up between Kris Jenner and the President of the United States.

8:41AM ET SEGMENT:

LAUER: Two people in the news making headlines for a little spat they're having together. We're talking about the President of the United States here and Kris Jenner, the matriarch of the Kardashian family.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: President vs. Kris Jenner; Are We Keeping Up Too Much With the Kardashians?]

In an interview recently, the President was asked if as a boy, as a child, he ever wanted things that he couldn't afford, or that his family couldn't afford. He said he never really felt he was deprived and said, quote, were there things all of us might have liked to have? Sure. But partly, I think, there's also been a shift in culture. We weren't exposed to the things we didn't have in the same way that kids are these days. There was not that window into the lifestyles of rich and famous. Kids weren't monitoring every day what Kim Kardashian was wearing or where Kanye West was going on vacation, and thinking that somehow that was the mark of success."

DONNY DEUTSCH: See, unfortunately or fortunately, kids have the window into everything now. And if anything, strangely enough, when you see the Kardashians and their whole brand is accessible wealth, "Boy, that's a real person. That's not an actor, I can maybe get there." It maybe opens up opportunity to more people and drives them more. And on top of that, Kim Kardashian is a hard working young girl.

LAUER: Before I let you ladies weigh in, let me let you hear what Kris Jenner had to say in response to the President's comments.

KRIS JENNER: Kim Kardashian is the hardest working young lady in the world. She never sleeps, she never stops, she never slows down, and works so hard for what she's got. So I started thinking about her 10,000-square-foot house and I thought, wow, her job affords her to live in a 10,000-square-foot house and I think, if I'm not mistaken, that Mr. President's job affords him to live in a 55,000-square-foot house.

LAUER: What do you think of this argument?

ABBY HUNTSMAN: Of course she's going to use every opportunity to seize this attention, I mean, especially given the reviews of the start of her show. You have the most powerful man in the world mentioning your daughter and her fiancee, whatever he is, by name. She's going to take as long as she wants to talk about this. I felt like the audience and her co-host, it was kind of an awkward moment. I'm not sure if she totally understood what the President was trying to say when he was talking about this whole American dream.

STAR JONES: Yes. I think the President was trying to explain that hard work and education is what will get the vast majority of young people the success that we all crave. When you see young people like Kim Kardashian – who does work extremely hard and I like her as a young lady – and Kanye West with their excessive lifestyle, kids start to think, "I too, can do that and be that," when the vast majority can not. We don't live in the reality world. The vast majority can only succeed with real hard work and real education.

DEUTSCH: How many hours do we celebrate the royals? Which is just a fantasy. This is a reality fantasy. So why not show it to kids that maybe can get it?

JONES: But for that very – I don't have a problem with them showing it.

DEUTSCH: The difference is it's not easy.

JONES: Right.

DEUTSCH: What we can't tell kids is, "Oh, you're just going to get a TV show." But this kind of accessible decadence is just who we are.

JONES: You're not going to be the one that plays NFL football, NBA basketball. You're not going to hit the ball like A-Rod did the other night – even though we don't like him right now – you're not going to be that person.

HUNTSMAN: Right, which is why – which is why you understand what the President is saying. As someone that watches a Kardashian episode or two, I understand what he was trying to say here. But I think there's a bigger picture. You know, the President knew exactly what he was doing, by the way, he knew that he would get a response.

LAUER: By the way, the celebrity culture has always been there. You look at the old news reels from Hollywood and Clark Gabel at his mansion, and we've always been looking up to people and aspiring to things that a lot of us would never reach.

DEUTSCH: The irony is it's actually more accessible now, strangely.

LAUER: Probably. 

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