Despite the continuing fallout from the shoot down of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 and Israel's incursion into Gaza, Monday's NBC Today devoted over four minutes of air time to weatherman Al Roker conducting a fawning interview with First Lady Michelle Obama. In what Roker teased as a "revealing conversation," he asked Obama: "Who's the best cook in the family?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Roker had the friendly chat with the First Lady while attending the Kids State Dinner at the White House on Friday, something he promoted during the segment: "The tiniest top chefs from all fifty states with a seat at the White House table, serving recipes they submitted....if you give a kid a meal, they'll eat for one meal. It's the old saying. You teach somebody how to fish or how to make the healthy meal, they eat that way for a lifetime."
Obama replied: "That's absolutely true. And that's one of the reasons why with Let's Move we focus on kids. Because it's hard to change adult habits, but kids really embrace change."
After Roker asked who was the best cook in the family, Obama declared: "You know, I would say that I am, because I've done it more. The President's not a bad cook." Roker eagerly followed up: "What's his go-to?" The First Lady explained: "Chili and a stir fry. I mean, he's very proud of his chili."
During another segment on the interview early in the 9 a.m. ET hour, Roker praised Obama as "just a stunning statuesque woman who's so intelligent and so bright," while referring to himself as a munchin from The Wizard of Oz: "Okay, in that shot, does it look like I'm standing in a hole?...I really should be holding a lollipop and singing a song to her. You know? I mean, there should be a house with a witch underneath it."
In January, Roker bragged about being a guest at the First Lady's fiftieth birthday party and during a 2011 interview with Michelle Obama, he wondered if she bought toilet paper in bulk at Costco.
Meanwhile, during the morning show's coverage of the multiple international crises on Monday, President Obama's name was only mentioned once, and then only in an 8 a.m. ET hour news brief.
Here is a full transcript of the first July 21 segment on Roker's interview with the First Lady:
8:08 AM ET
ROKER: Now to our interview with the First Lady, Michelle Obama. We were down at the White House on Friday for the Kids State Dinner. We caught up with Mrs. Obama, in where else, the State Dining Room. [To Obama] How are you?
MICHELLE OBAMA: Wonderful to see you.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Al & The First Lady; Inside Look at Kids' State Dinner]
ROKER: Don't let the lunch hour fool you, or who's coming to dinner.
OBAMA: Our fifty-four Healthy Lunchtime Challenge winners!
ROKER: The tiniest top chefs from all fifty states with a seat at the White House table, serving recipes they submitted, selected by our friends at Epicurious to be cooked up by the White House chefs. [To Obama] When you saw some of these recipes, were you kind of surprised at how creative and inventive they were?
OBAMA: Yeah. We're always amazed at how creative kids get with this stuff. Especially when the adults kind of – they're the ones who moan and groan.
BARACK OBAMA: We have a lot of state dinners around here.
MICHELLE OBAMA: We do.
BARACK OBAMA: They're not always as cheerful and fun as this.
ROKER: Part of the plan in that, if you give a kid a meal, they'll eat for one meal. It's the old saying. You teach somebody how to fish or how to make the healthy meal, they eat that way for a lifetime.
MICHELLE OBAMA: That's absolutely true. And that's one of the reasons why with Let's Move we focus on kids. Because it's hard to change adult habits, but kids really embrace change. Get them involved, ask their opinion. They'll engage.
ROKER: Who's the best cook in the family?
OBAMA: You know, I would say that I am, because I've done it more. The President's not a bad cook.
OBAMA: It's just that – he's not bad.
ROKER: What's his go-to?
OBAMA: Chili and a stir fry. I mean, he's very proud of his chili.
BARACK OBAMA: You know, each of us have our weaknesses. Malia, ice cream. It's very hard for her to turn down ice cream. My big thing, like basically if there's a bowl of good chips and guacamole, I lose my mind.
MICHELLE OBAMA: And that's why I want parents involved in this, because they have a say in what happens in their schools and they probably have more power than even me the First Lady or the President to make sure that what their kids are eating every day is gonna help them grow and develop into the wonderful human beings that we want them to be.
ROKER: I can't wait for lunch.
OBAMA: It's gonna be good.
CARSON DALY: That's pretty cool.
ROKER: Yeah, it was. And you know, when talking with the First Lady, we brought up your effort to put gardens into schools.
DALY: Oh, thank you.
ROKER: She said that is so important for the kids to really get their hands dirty and really start a grassroots effort and they'll take that knowledge home.
DALY: Did you crash the Kids State Dinner? Did you eat?
ROKER: I did. I actually had a – I actually had a pass because of Nicky [Roker]. He was able to come in as a kid and I went as his guest.
DYLAN DRYER: Oh, that's funny.
GUTHRIE: Al, thank you so much.