CBS Ignores Obama News Conference, Promotes Michelle Obama Dancing Instead

On Thursday, August 7, CBS This Morning’s coverage of President Obama’s Africa Summit consisted of a glowing puff piece on how being First Lady was like being in a sorority.

Rather than acknowledge the existence of President Obama’s news conference from Wednesday night, Major Garrett, CBS News Chief White House Correspondent, played up how “Michelle Obama and Laura Bush shared the summit stage with moderator Cokie Roberts and talked candidly about the hard knocks of political criticism.” [See video below.]

The report began with the CBS reporter hyping how “even when he was running for this office and criticizing President Bush relentlessly, then-Senator Barack Obama praised Bush’s focus on Africa. Mr. Obama has added economic development to Bush's billion-dollar focus on battling AIDS on the continent.” 

Garrett then spent the majority of the segment promoting the discussion between the two First Ladies: 

Laura Bush said she watched the first President Bush and wife Barbara endure political ridicule and knew what to expect...Both first ladies talked about the fleeting time on the world stage even in a two-term presidency.

--

Even with 51 African delegations in Washington there's been little mention of the whereabouts or fate of nearly 300 Nigerian school girls captured by the terrorist group Boko Haram. The First Lady elevated the girls’ cause via Twitter in May. She called on American teens, including her daughters to avoid silly social media cliches. 

The CBS News reporter concluded by highlighting the various issues discussed at the African Summit without once acknowledging that President Obama even held a news conference. While Garrett couldn’t be bothered to mention the news conference, CBS This Morning found time to play a clip of Obama speaking at the news conference earlier in the broadcast on the subject of corporate tax reform. 

After speaking with Garrett, co-host Norah O’Donnell proceeded to gush at how “it certainly wasn't all business at the African summit. I don't know if you saw the video of Mrs. Obama dancing. Listen to this. Everybody got up and did some dancing there. And I think afterward she jumped back up on stage and said, okay, I've gotten my workout for the day.” 

Co-host Gayle King beamed at how “you can tell that she really likes dancing. I’ve heard that she's a big fan of that Dance, Dance Revolution, that game.” Charlie Rose concluded by admitting how “hearing her talk makes me want to be a fly on the wall when the family’s having dinner.”  

See relevant transcript below. 


CBS

CBS This Morning 

August 7, 2014

CHARLIE ROSE: Former First Lady Laura Bush says she belongs to a sorority. She's talking about all the first ladies of the world. Dozens of them met on Wednesday to hear Mrs. Bush and First Lady Michelle Obama. Major Garrett is at the White House where the president’s Africa Summit just ended. Major good morning. 

MAJOR GARRETT: Good morning. Even when he was running for this office and criticizing President Bush relentlessly, then Senator Barack Obama praised Bush’s focus on Africa. Mr. Obama has added economic development to Bush's billion-dollar focus on battling AIDS on the continent. The bond between these two leaders is genuine and extends, as was clear yesterday to Michelle Obama and Laura Bush. Michelle Obama and Laura Bush shared the summit stage with moderator Cokie Roberts and talked candidly about the hard knocks of political criticism. 

MICHELLE OBAMA: Some people are shy and never want the limelight. Others people are much more outgoing and may be a bit more aggressive and able to withstand the heat of the spotlight that shines on us. First spouses, we don't choose this position. We just happen to be in it. 

LAURA BUSH: We're elected by one man. 

OBAMA: Right. 

COKIE ROBERTS: And you can't be fired. 

BUSH: You certainly hope not. 

OBAMA: I guess we'll see. 

GARRETT: Laura Bush said she watched the first President Bush and wife Barbara endure political ridicule and knew what to expect. 

BUSH: That doesn't make it any less hurtful, but on the other hand, I think anyone who's in a leadership position of any sort knows that you're going be criticized and a target, really, for criticism. 

OBAMA: That's absolutely true and that's really the role of leadership, you know. It's not about amazing power. Amassing power. It's about taking hits and continuing to do the work. 

GARRETT: Both first ladies talked about the fleeting time on the world stage even in a two-term presidency. 

OBAMA: We can't waste this spotlight. It is temporary and life is short and change is needed and women are smarter than men.

GARRETT: Even with 51 African delegations in Washington there's been little mention of the whereabouts or fate of nearly 300 Nigerian school girls captured by the terrorist group Boko Haram. The First Lady elevated the girls’ cause via Twitter in May. She called on American teens, including her daughters to avoid silly social media cliches. 

OBAMA: I tease my kids, I tell them I want them to use Instagram to take a picture of something really important rather than their food but young people can be a support to us. You know, I mean no one really cares what you had for lunch. 

GARRETT: The summit produced $37 billion in public and private commitments for Africa. Everything from electricity production to business investment, peacekeeping to public help. And on the last score, particular emphasis will be given to battling the Ebola outbreak and the decades-long fight against HIV/AIDS. Gayle?  

GAYLE KING: Alright Major Garrett. The first lady made such good points. 

NORAH O’DONNELL: Yeah very good points. Both first ladies. 

KING: Yeah, you’re right. 

O’DONNELL: You know, It certainly wasn't all business at the African summit. I don't know if you saw the video of Mrs. Obama dancing. Listen to this. Everybody got up and did some dancing there. And I think afterward she jumped back up on stage and said, okay, I've gotten my workout for the day. 

KING: Yeah, you can tell that she really likes dancing. I’ve heard that she's a big fan of that Dance, Dance Revolution, that game. 

ROSE: Hearing her talk makes me want to be a fly on the wall when the family’s having dinner. 

O’DONNELL: Absolutely. 

KING: That's a fun dinner table it seems like. I like Laura Bush, too, the comments she made. Very nice. Very nice. Major, we thank you. 

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.