NY Times Hypes White House 'Foodmaster General' As He Marries MSNBC Host

MSNBC host Alex Wagner and Sam Kass, the personal chef to the Obama family, will marry this weekend in New York with Barack and Michelle Obama in attendance. This prompted a gushing front-pager on Kass in The New York Times on Friday. The headline is “Obamas’ Foodmaster General.”

Times reporter Jennifer Steinhauer wrote Kass “found himself an astounding beneficiary of luck and timing as he blazed a trail of cruciferous vegetables into the first lady’s heart.” He’s now one of “her top policy advisers.” The Times pulled one of those amazingly selective uses of the jump to keep MSNBC off the front page of this cozy story:

In a demonstration of Mr. Kass’s closeness to the Obamas, Mr. Obama spent five hours in Mr. Kass’s Logan Circle apartment last week — in the middle of crises in Iraq, Ukraine and Ferguson, Mo. — ostensibly celebrating the chef’s last week as a bachelor. This weekend, the first family will at- [PAGE BREAK TO A-3] -tend Mr. Kass’s wedding, to Alex Wagner of MSNBC, at a Westchester County farm-to-table restaurant favored by the Obamas.

Inside the paper, the headline is “Obamas’ Foodmaster General, a Chef With Pull.” There’s a photo of Mrs. Obama and Kass in the White House garden from 2010. The large pull quote reads “Setting the first family, and the nation, on a path to healthier eating.” Not only that, Kass is all the rage among “moneyed urban foodies” and “permeates the consciousness” of the country’s cuisine:

In between, Mr. Kass manages a frantic schedule of travel, cooking and commuting, although he can be found grilling prime beef for the Obamas just outside the North Portico on many a Friday, steak night at the White House.

At the same time, he has helped to popularize a way of eating embraced by moneyed urban foodies. Just as the first lady’s fashion choices and toned biceps permeate the consciousness of the country, Mrs. Obama and Mr. Kass have taken organic gardening and the whole-wheat-ification of grilled cheese sandwiches mainstream.

“He is on the forefront of a social movement,” said Dan Barber, the executive chef at Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, N.Y., the site of the Wagner-Kass wedding. “I have watched it with admiration.”


How did these two meet? "The two, an efficacious union of liberal politics and camera-ready looks, met at a White House Correspondents' Association dinner after-party."

Vogue magazine hyped them as the "It Couple" of politics earlier this year. Liberal journo Jacob Weisberg gushed: "Wagner is more electric: vivacious, delightfully profane, a natural host at dinner just as she is on her daytime MSNBC news program, Now with Alex Wagner. It’s striking how they balance and reinforce each other. She’s in the lead, sparkling with stories; he hangs back, gruffly handsome, quick with a smile or laugh."

In the Times puff piece, Steinhauer included one critic, in paragraph 14, briefly noting a spokesman for the School Nutrition Association reports there are “a million fewer students choosing school lunches each day under the new standards set by the Obama administration.”

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis