CNN's Alina Cho: Obamas are the 'Royal Family of the United States'

Alina Cho, CNN Correspondent | NewsBusters.orgCNN correspondent Alina Cho loaded the regal language into her report on Wednesday’s American Morning about Europe’s “apparent love affair” with Michelle Obama. Besides the obligatory Jackie Kennedy references, Cho gave a preview of the first lady’s tea with Queen Elizabeth II: “On today’s schedule: tea with the queen, and insiders say the queen and America’s queen bee will be fast friends.” The correspondent even compared Mrs. Obama to Princess Diana. She also referred to the Obamas as the “royal family of the United States.”

Cho began her report by hyping the first lady’s popularity, how it apparently isn’t exclusive to the States, and how it could overshadow her husband the president: “Tina Brown, as you know, joked about an hour ago that Sara Brown is a beautiful girl but, you know, everybody sort of knows that right now, at least, she pales in comparison to Michelle Obama. Of course, the big question is, could she overshadow the president?...So, you know, there’s no denying that Michelle Obama is a rock star in America, but how is her style and personality playing abroad? Well, the early reviews are very good. The apparent love affair with the U.S. first lady is flourishing in Europe.”

After announcing that Mrs. Obama is a “brand new star” overseas, using glowing remarks from people on a British street to underscore her point, the correspondent made her “royal family” reference to the Obamas. Presidential historian Allan Lichtman (who was unidentified during the report) adopted this moniker in his first sound bite: “How the royal family, and not just a head of government, is received, is very important for perception back here at home.”

The CNN correspondent then underlined the apparent attention the first lady is receiving in particular: “Most of all, the first lady -- what will she wear? How will she act? On today’s schedule: tea with the queen, and insiders say the queen and America’s queen bee will be fast friends.” Cho followed this with a clip from The Daily Beast’s Tina Brown, who made a gushing prediction: “What [the] queen really likes is authentic women. She likes women who are strong, who are unpretentious, and who are into their family....She’ll love the fact that Michelle Obama was filmed, you know, digging her vegetable garden. That is very queen-like.”

Towards the end of her report, Cho asked if Michelle Obama’s popularity would lead her to eclipse her husband, as Jackie Kennedy once did to JFK. She also went so far to compare the first lady to a deceased Princess of Wales: “To be sure, everything Michelle Obama does while she’s in Europe -- everything she wears -- will be front-page fodder. Princess Diana, if you’ll recall, was scrutinized in a similar way. And if you think about it, guys, the First Lady is a star in Europe in much the same way that Princess Diana was a star when she was here in the United States. People went crazy over her when she was here.”

The full transcript of Cho’s report, which began 39 minutes into the 8 am Eastern hour of Wednesday’s American Morning:

KIRAN CHETRY: We’re tracking all of the events taking place at the G-20 summit, though, in London today. It’s about three hours ago that President Obama spoke, along with British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. They held a joint press conference -- here we go -- answering questions that were posed to them by the -- by members of the media about how to best tackle the global financial crisis, who is to blame for the global financial crisis, and what they expect to come out of this meeting.

But it wasn’t just President Obama who was a big hit overseas. It may pale in comparison to his wife, the first lady’s popularity. As the Europeans are watching Michelle Obama’s every move, CNN -- CNN’s Alina Cho is part of that story for us. And there, we’re looking at some pictures of Sara Brown and Michelle Obama together, taking some photos together, and sort of getting to know each other ahead of that press conference that their husbands were holding.

ALINA CHO: That’s right. In fact, Tina Brown, as you know, joked about an hour ago that Sara Brown is a beautiful girl but, you know, everybody sort of knows that right now, at least, she pales in comparison to Michelle Obama. Of course, the big question is, could she overshadow the president? You know, when the Kennedys went to Europe in 1961, President Kennedy joked, I’m just the man accompanying Jacqueline Kennedy to Paris, you know? So, you know, there’s no denying that Michelle Obama is a rock star in America, but how is her style and personality playing abroad? Well, the early reviews are very good. The apparent love affair with the United States' first lady is flourishing in Europe.

CHO (voice-over): America’s fascination with the first lady has been well-documented. But across the pond, Michelle Obama is a brand new star. The headlines say it all.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE #1: She’s very stylish, and she’s a good right-hand woman to have for Barack Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE #2: We think she looks very good --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE #3: Yes, for her age.

CHO: As America’s first lady embarks upon her first trip to Europe, the world is watching the royal family of the United States.

ALLAN LICHTMAN, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: How the royal family, and not just a head of government, is received, is very important for perception back here at home.

CHO: Most of all, the first lady -- what will she wear? How will she act? On today’s schedule: tea with the queen, and insiders say the queen and America’s queen bee will be fast friends.

TINA BROWN, THEDAILYBEAST.COM: What [the] queen really likes is authentic women. She likes women who are strong, who are unpretentious, and who are into their family --

FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA: All right.
                   
BROWN: She’ll love the fact that Michelle Obama was filmed, you know, digging her vegetable garden. That is very queen-like.

CHO: When France’s first lady, Carla Bruni Sarkozy met the queen, she curtsied and London went mad for her. On this leg of the trip, Mrs. Sarkozy is a no-show.

BROWN: I think she recognizes that next to Michelle, she’s going to be badly compared.

CHO: And don’t forget, the French first lady is a former supermodel. In 1961, Jacqueline Kennedy wowed French President Charles de Gaulle with her flawless French and impeccable style.

LICHTMAN: So much so that Kennedy said at one point, I am the man who is accompanying Jacqueline Kennedy to Paris.

CHO: So, can this glamorous first lady do the same thing to her husband? Our own Wolf Blitzer says no.

WOLF BLITZER: They’re ga-ga over Michelle Obama, but they’re also ga-ga over Barack Obama. So I don’t think he has to worry at all about the first lady overshadowing him. In fact, knowing that their relationship is as strong as it is, he wouldn’t be upset about that at all. He loves this woman very much.

CHO (on-camera): In fact, the president often jokes that Michelle’s the boss. To be sure, everything Michelle Obama does while she’s in Europe -- everything she wears -- will be front-page fodder. Princess Diana, if you’ll recall, was scrutinized in a similar way. And if you think about it, guys, the First Lady is a star in Europe in much the same way that Princess Diana was a star when she was here in the United States. People went crazy over her when she was here.

CHETRY: Absolutely. All right. Alina Cho for us this morning. Thanks so much.

CHO: You bet.

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