On Thursday and Friday, NBC's Today provided viewers with gushing over-the-top coverage of First Lady Michelle Obama turning fifty, with White House correspondent Kristen Welker excitedly declaring in a Thursday report: "For days they've been gearing up for a big bash here at the White House. Guests were told to wear comfortable shoes and to be prepared to move around a lot, an indication there will be no shortage of dancing here. You can also bet there will be a long list of celebrities to pull off a party fit for a first lady." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Welker fawned over President Obama acting as "planner-in-chief" for the extravagant celebration and touted: "Just back from an extended stay at Oprah's house in Hawaii, a gift from the President [with her separate flight back to Washington paid for by taxpayers], the First Lady seems to be taking up the big five-zero in stride..."
A sound bite ran of People magazine Washington bureau chief Sandra Sobieraj Westfall describing an exclusive interview with the First Lady: "I've interviewed four different first ladies and I've never seen one as candid and relaxed and upbeat about such a personal thing. She is dancing into her fifties."
Welker added: "Obama told the magazine each decade brings her a greater sense of calm, certainty, maturity, and confidence."
At the top of Friday's Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie proclaimed: "And the First Lady at 50! As Michelle Obama reaches a milestone birthday, why fifty is the new fifty."
In one segment, fill-in co-host Tamron Hall reported:
...what was happening the year Michelle Obama was born in the great city of Chicago? Well, that was the year that Dr. Martin Luther King received the Nobel Prize. The world met the Beatles in '64, they also performed in Chicago. So Ed Sullivan and Chicago that same year. A little movie, Mary Poppins, made us all laugh and want to dance and sing. And Jeopardy...made its debut.
In another report in the 8 a.m. ET hour, Welker announced: "As Michelle Obama welcomes the milestone, fashion experts say she is among those changing the face of fifty." Fashion reporter Kate Betts, author of a fawning book about the First Lady entitled Everyday Icon, asserted: "She's definitely making fifty very vibrant, very energetic, very individualistic."
Welker observed: "An individuality that has translated into her sometimes edgy sense of style. From sleeveless dresses on Capitol Hill to J. Crew and Couture, Obama has never been afraid to mix it up."
Another clip followed of liberal Washington Post reporter Sally Quinn gushing: " I think Michelle Obama has really come into her own in the last few years. And I think the reason why is because she has this almost perfect sense of balance in her life." Welker explained: "A balance she attributes to her healthy lifestyle, a mix of cardio and yoga. And through her Let's Move initiative, she leads by example, encouraging kids and adults to be fabulous at fifty."
Quinn continued: "I think that she's setting a perfect example for not just women but for men, too, that there's absolutely no reason why you can't be healthy and great looking at age fifty."
In a tease prior to Welker's Friday report, clips were played of actress Helen Mirren and actor Michael Douglas wishing Michelle Obama a happy birthday from the red carpet at the Golden Globes. NBC aired the awards show on Sunday and evidently urged celebrities to send the First Lady a birthday message so the network could use the footage later in the week.
At the top of the 9 a.m. ET hour of Friday's Today, news reader Natalie Morales again noted how the President was "planning a little shindig at the White House" for Mrs. Obama: "It's a very top secret event. Rumors Beyonce may be performing....A little dancing involved. You know they've all been told to bring some comfortable shoes."
Turning to weatherman Al Roker, Morales asked: "You haven't been invited, then?" Roker replied: "No." Poking fun at Roker's long-running "bromance" with Vice President Joe Biden, Morales joked: "Biden couldn't pull some strings for you?" Roker lamented: "No, I've been trying. I've been trying."
On Wednesday, ABC's Good Morning America was thrilled by the First Lady's People magazine puff piece "So honest on a range of topics, including her take on plastic surgery and Botox. We have an exclusive first look right here."
Also that day, The Washington Post heralded Michelle Obama as "A First Lady for the Ages."
On Friday, The New York Times was amazed by her being both a "glamorous mystery woman" and a "regular PTA mother."