Wednesday's New Day on CNN played up First Lady Michelle Obama "taking on House Republicans" because of a proposal to allow school districts to delay potentially expensive efforts to improve school lunch nutrition.
Two plugs forwarded the Obama anti-Republican spin, with the first suggesting that the GOP plan "could make your kids sick," and the second plug asking if Republicans are "playing politics with the health of school kids."
At 6:12 a.m., CNN co-anchor Chris Cuomo provocatively teased:
And she normally avoids political battles, at least overt ones. But this time the First Lady, Michelle Obama, is taking on House Republicans. Why she says a new GOP plan for school lunches could make your kids sick.
A bit later, co-anchor Kate Bolduan made the second plug:
Coming up next on New Day, First Lady Michelle Obama taking on House Republicans over the new school lunch plan. Are lawmakers playing politics with the health of school kids?
Before getting to the main report, Bolduan brought up the issue during a debate between conservative Kevin Madden and liberal Paul Begala. After Begala's liberal spin which ended with him proclaiming that he "loves" the First Lady, Bolduan switched to Madden and posed:
A lot of people love her, Kevin, which might be the Republicans' problem here. Why, oh, why do Republicans want to take on, number one, trying to make school lunch healthier for kids, and, number two, the First Lady?
When the main report by correspondent Athena Jones came at 7:08 a.m., Jones focused most of the report on the First Lady, giving her three soundbites, and only allowed one soundbite supporting the Republican proposal near the end in the form of Julia Bauscher of the School Nutrition Association.
Jones concluded by describing school nutrition standards as "under threat." Jones: "As long as the current nutrition standards are under threat, we'll probably be hearing more from her (Michelle Obama)."
Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the Wednesday, May 28, New Day on CNN:
CHRIS CUOMO, BEFORE COMMERCIAL BREAK AT 6:12 A.M.: And she normally avoids political battles, at least overt ones. But this time the First Lady, Michelle Obama, is taking on House Republicans. Why she says a new GOP plan for school lunches could make your kids sick.
KATE BOLDUAN, BEFORE COMMERCIAL BREAK AT 6:22 A.M.: Coming up next on New Day, First Lady Michelle Obama taking on House Republicans over the new school lunch plan. Are lawmakers playing politics with the health of school kids?
BOLDUAN, AT 6:32 A.M.: Got to get your guys' take on another Obama wading into politics in a very, very different way. But I found it very interesting. Michelle Obama really taking it to Republicans, wading into the politics in a way she hasn't before on the issue of school lunch. Paul, why is she taking them on?
(After giving his liberal take, Paul Begala ends with, "So good for her. I love her. Great for her.")
BOLDUAN: A lot of people love her, Kevin, which might be the Republicans' problem here. Why, oh, why do Republicans want to take on, number one, trying to make school lunch healthier for kids, and, number two, the First Lady? (KEVIN MADDEN, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR)
BOLDUAN, AT 7:08 A.M.: The President himself isn't the only Obama battling with Congress right now. First Lady Michelle Obama is going after House Republicans for considering changes to the nation's healthy school lunch policy. She's been a major force in trying to get children to eat better, especially at schools, but many in the Republican Party, many in the House say the new standards are actually setting schools and students back, setting them up to fail. Athena Jones is in Washington with the very latest. So what are the details here?
ATHENA JONES: Good morning, Kate. Well, we're seeing the First Lady get publicly involved in a political fight for really the first time. This goes beyond, say, urging young people to sign up for health insurance, as we've seen her do. She's now taking a position in a legislative debate, and it's over an issue she's been passionate about as First Lady and as a mother: children and healthy eating.
MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: It's unacceptable to me not just as First Lady but as a mother.
JONES: Fighting words from the First Lady, sending a message to House Republicans who want to relax school lunch nutrition standards she fought for four years ago.
MICHELLE OBAMA: The last thing that we can afford to do right now is play politics with our kids' health, especially when we're finally starting to see some progress on this issue.
JONES: It's part of a rare poltical push by Mrs. Obama to battle a bill that would give schools facing financial problems an extra year to comply with rules to limit fat and sodium and encourage more fruits and vegetables in school meals. The "mom-in-chief" is known for her "Let's Move" campaign against childhood obesity, her White House garden, and her focus on healthy eating. But she hasn't waded into the political fights at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue until now.
MICHELLE OBAMA: Parents have a right to expect their kids will get decent food in their schools. And we all have a right to expect that our hard-earned taxpayer dollars won't be spent on junk food for our kids.
JONES: Supporters of the legislation say some school districts are struggling to find cheap, healthy options, and need more time to make sure kids will eat the healthier foods, not just throw them away.
JULIA BAUSCHER, SCHOOL NUTRITION ASSOCIATION: So we're not saying, "Let's just put junk food back on the serving line." For most districts, that hasn't been part of the school meal in many, many years. But we want to make sure that students are comfortable with these changes and are willing to take what's offered to them, and will find it acceptable and enjoyable.
JONES: So this bill is set to go to the full House Appropriations Committee tomorrow, and we expect the First Lady to stay involved in this fight. As long as the current nutrition standards are under threat, we'll probably be hearing more from her.