CNN Plays Up Michelle Obama, Omits Her Past Words About America

NewsBusters.org - Media Research CenterCNN’s Alina Cho, in a report which ran twice on Friday’s "American Morning," described Michelle Obama in nothing but glowing terms. When she introduced the report during the 6 am Eastern hour, Cho described the wife of Barack Obama as a "fascinating woman," and went on to call her "funny, fiery, and blunt ."

During the report, Cho used sound bites from Valerie Jarrett, a friend of the Obama family, and CNN contributor Roland Martin to reinforce the overwhelmingly positive profile of Mrs. Obama and her role in drawing black women to vote for her husband. Martin put it this way: "She's going to tell them [black women] point blank -- look, I'm you. My daughters are you. And so, my husband is going to be thinking about you every single day because he's looking at you every single day."

After the 6 am airing of the report, Cho and "American Morning" co-host Kiran Chetry discussed the Obamas’ relationship, and continued the syrupy portrayal.

ALINA CHO: Friends say their ability to compromise makes their relationship so great. And they call them kindred spirits. Now, Michelle Obama limits her time on the campaign trail to two to four days a week. Now, that allows her to get home to Chicago to be with her two young girls, Malia and Sasha. Friends say she often leaves very early in the morning. That allows her to be back home at night to put her kids to sleep. And, Kiran, that way, her children don't know any different. They think she's just off to work.

KIRAN CHETRY: That is adorable. You talk about how they met at that law firm. He talks about how he courted her and she said no, I don't want to date anybody from the office.

CHO: Oh, that's right. She was very concerned about that.

CHETRY: Right.

CHO: Remember, you know, she was working there. He was just a summer associate. He was still in law school. Even though she's three years younger, he was in law school at the time. But yes, this is time to mentor him.

CHETRY: They have a very unique and adorable love story.

Neither Cho nor Chetry mentioned that there might be negative side to Michelle Obama’s participation in her husband campaign. Less than two months ago, during an interview which aired on MSNBC, Mrs. Obama basically claimed, as Mark Finkelstein put it, that America will have no one to blame but itself if it doesn't seize the opportunity to elect Barack Obama.

The full transcript of the report from Friday’s "American Morning:"

KIRAN CHETRY: Well, Barack Obama calls his wife, Michelle, his secret weapon. His campaign staffers actually call her ‘The Closer. The $1 million question though is, can Michelle Obama really help him win South Carolina and ultimately the White House? Well, 'American Morning's' Alina Cho has been talking with voters and with Michelle Obama's -- one of her close friends, as well as others on her campaign as well. What's her secret?

ALINA CHO: Oh, she's a fascinating woman. A combination of factors, Kiran. You know, there's no denying the Obama campaign is taking advantage of what it calls Michelle Obama's personal appeal. After all, she's a working woman who's also a mom, and that could play well with undecided black female voters, especially key in South Carolina, the first critical test of the South, a place where nearly 50 percent of all Democrats are black.

CHO (voice-over): A month ago, the most important woman in Barack Obama's political life may have been Oprah. Today, it's Michelle.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The lock on the Obama family. The closer on the campaign trail. Give it up for Michelle Obama.

CHO: Those who know her best say Michelle Obama is funny, fiery, and blunt.

MICHELLE OBAMA, BARACK OBAMA'S WIFE: He's running to be the President of the United States, to help fix up those corridors of shame.

CHO: Valerie Jarrett is a close family friend.

VALERIE JARRETT, OBAMA FAMILY FRIEND: I think what's good about Michelle is that when you get to know her, there really aren't that many surprises, because what you see is what you get. She's so authentic.

CHO: The product of blue collar roots, Michelle grew up on Chicago's South Side, graduating from Princeton and Harvard Law. She met Barack at her law firm. Though three years younger, she was assigned to mentor him. They married in 1992. The Obama campaign hopes their story will resonate with and inspire black women in South Carolina, a place where many have strong ties to the Clintons. Black women could be the key swing vote. Enter Michelle Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It’s a very good strategy, smart on his point to send a woman ahead.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN ANALYST: She's going to tell them point blank -- look, I'm you. My daughters are you. And so, my husband is going to be thinking about you every single day because he's looking at you every single day.

CHO: A strong message sprinkled with strong words.

M. OBAMA: If you can't run your own house, you certainly can't run the White House.

CHO: Some interpreted that as a swipe at the Clintons. What is clear is unlike the Clintons, the Obamas are not promising a two-for-one White House.

JARRETT: She's not interested in attending cabinet meetings or being, you know, integrally involved. I think she sees herself very differently. She's really his partner. She's a sounding board, but she's not interested in being a co-president.

CHO (on-camera): Friends say their ability to compromise makes their relationship so great. And they call them kindred spirits. Now, Michelle Obama limits her time on the campaign trail to two to four days a week. Now, that allows her to get home to Chicago to be with her two young girls, Malia and Sasha. Friends say she often leaves very early in the morning. That allows her to be back home at night to put her kids to sleep. And, Kiran, that way, her children don't know any different. They think she's just off to work.

CHETRY: That is adorable. You talk about how they met at that law firm. He talks about how he courted her and she said no, I don't want to date anybody from the office.

CHO: Oh, that's right. She was very concerned about that.

CHETRY: Right.

CHO: Remember, you know, she was working there. He was just a summer associate. He was still in law school. Even though she's three years younger, he was in law school at the time. But yes, this is time to mentor him.

CHETRY: They have a very unique and adorable love story. Now, what is her work? And is she able to still do that?

CHO: Well, it's obviously very difficult. She's on leave of absence right now. She was recently named the vice president of the University of Chicago Medical Center. Initially, she cut back and cut down to about a 20 percent workload. Friends and aides admit it's really impossible to work right now and that she's committed to making sure her husband becomes president.

CHETRY: She is ‘The Closer,’ And you gave us a closer look at that. Thanks so much.

CHO: You bet.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center