CNN’s Carol Costello: Cindy McCain ‘Stepford Wife’

Update below.

CNN correspondent Carol Costello compared Cindy McCain to a "Stepford Wife" due to her "low key" role in her husband’s campaign so far, in a segment on Wednesday’s "The Situation Room." Costello, detailing Mrs. McCain’s recent photo spread in Vogue magazine, stated the feature "projects an image quite unlike the Cindy McCain we see on the trail," and a talking head described this "Cindy McCain we see" as "low key... taking the traditional role of standing by her husband's side at events." Costello then quipped, "A role critics say makes Mrs. McCain look like -- well, Glenn Close in the movie ‘The Stepford Wives.’" [audio available here]

On the other hand, Costello described Michelle Obama’s Vogue spread more glowingly: "...Michelle Obama chose a traditional black dress with pearl earrings for her Vogue spread. As The Washington Post described it, it was if Michelle Obama was saying 'I am not some scary other.... I am Camelot with a tan.'"

Twice in her report, Costello emphasized that most people "don't really know much about Cindy McCain," except that she’s "really, really rich." After making this point the second time, Costello continued by bringing up the issue of Mrs. McCain’s tax returns. "What voters do know about her -- well, she's enormously wealthy, and she says she won't release her tax returns ever -- which says to voters, you're not one of us -- hence Vogue and the jeans."

NewsBusters.org - Media Research CenterCostello followed this portrayal of Cindy McCain by comparing it to Michelle Obama’s Vogue spread. "Interestingly, while Cindy McCain chose jeans for her Vogue spread, her likely competitor, Michelle Obama, chose a traditional black dress with pearl earrings for her Vogue spread. As The Washington Post described it, it was if Michelle Obama was saying 'I am not some scary other.... I am Camelot with a tan.'" The Washington Post quotation came from a May 18 piece by Robin Givhan which described the two Vogue features. In her article, Givhan also used the "Stepford wife" term.

Let’s get this straight: Mrs. McCain’s refusal to release her tax returns makes her some kind of elitist, but Michelle Obama, the millionaire, wearing a "traditional black dress with pearl earrings" is an attempt to connect with average voters? As if we needed another indication that CNN leans towards the Obamas.

NewsBusters.org - Media Research CenterThe full transcript of Carol Costello’s segment, which first ran at the end of the 6 pm hour of Wednesday’s "The Situation Room:"

WOLF BLITZER: John McCain's wife Cindy is taking center stage in a whole new way. She's featured in a spread in Vogue magazine -- a move possibly aimed at a very specific goal. Let's go back to Carol. She's looking at this story for us. What are you seeing, Carol? What are you hearing?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, you know, most of us don't really know much about Cindy McCain, except she's really, really rich. But if you take a peak at Vogue magazine, you may get a more well-rounded view.

NewsBusters.org - Media Research CenterCOSTELLO (voice-over): Ooh la-la -- Cindy McCain in Vogue magazine looks spectacular, lounging at her seaside condo, sans John McCain -- feet bare, wearing size zero jeans. She projects an image quite unlike the Cindy McCain we see on the campaign trail.

SUSAN MACMANUS, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA: So far, Cindy McCain has been low-key. She's been sort of taking the traditional role of standing by her side -- her husband's side at events and clapping and smiling and being supportive of her husband.

COSTELLO: A role critics say makes Mrs. McCain look like -- well, Glenn Close in the movie 'The Stepford Wives.'

GLENN CLOSE (from "THE STEPFORD WIVES"): Well, that's all marvelous.

GLORIA ROEMER, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: Well, you know, there's that saying that's been going on for years, you know, don't hate me because I'm beautiful. And that may apply here, because, you know, she is very attractive. You know, she can't help it.

COSTELLO: Roemer says Mrs. McCain's exterior belies who she really is. Mrs. McCain isn't perfect. She suffered a stroke four years ago and worked hard to overcome its affects. She donates tons of time and money to charitable causes. What voters do know about her -- well, she's enormously wealthy, and she says she won't release her tax returns ever -- which says to voters, you're not one of us -- hence Vogue and the jeans.

MACMANUS: Jeans are as all-American as apple pie, and in the fashion world, no matter what they look like, they're in fashion, and so it's no surprise that Cindy McCain would choose a spread with jeans and a nice shirt.

COSTELLO: Interestingly, while Cindy McCain chose jeans for her Vogue spread, her likely competitor, Michelle Obama, chose a traditional black dress with pearl earrings for her Vogue spread. As The Washington Post described it, it was if Michelle Obama was saying 'I am not some scary other.... I am Camelot with a tan.' Whether these images will sway voters one way or another remains to be seen. But we're still in the 'getting to know you' stage.

COSTELLO (on-camera): And, in short, expect both would-be First Ladies to be much more visible in the near future, so you can get to know them -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, thanks very much. I'm looking forward to reading that article and seeing the pictures. Carol, see you tomorrow.

Update (Ken Shepherd | 21:44): Sgthulka noted in the comments section a speech Costello gave in March at Kent State University wherein she lamented, of all things, sexism in the media. No word if she considered calling other women "Stepford wives" sexist.

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