On Tuesday's "Nightline," ABC gushed over Michelle Obama with the enthusiasm and objectivity usually reserved for "Access Hollywood" reporters. Correspondent Yunji de Nies lauded the "rock star" first lady for her fashion sense and for speaking openly about balancing work and family. "Nightline" co-anchor Cynthia McFadden asserted that "with her muscular arms and outfits, she's become, well, a model first lady."
De Nies talked with liberal Washington Post journalist Sally Quinn, who has written for years about D.C. style. Asked about a recent Michelle Obama spread in Vogue magazine, Quinn enthused, "Well, for one thing, I think she's a sexual person. The pictures are attractive. They're womanly. They're sexy, but not in an overt way." She then went on to assert that Washington has often tried to force women to downplay their sexuality. This prompted de Nies to breathlessly wonder, "Is Washington and the world ready for such a modern first lady?"
During the 8:30AM EST half hour of Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Russ Mitchell introduced a fawning news brief on Michelle Obama’s first 50 days as First Lady: "In the seven weeks since the new President was inaugurated, the new glamorous First Lady has found her place in a glamorous world. Thalia Assuras has a look at Michelle Obama's successful new life." Assuras began her report: "Everyone wants an invitation to her parties. She's graced several magazine covers. Even Oprah is giving up a slice for the first time. She's the focus of fashionistas, those buff arms igniting commentary, and websites produce constant chatter."
Assuras went on to describe how Michellle Obama had surpassed other First Ladies: "Michelle Obama has created a stir like no other First Lady...Style watchers caution that all new First Ladies cause excitement, but Mrs. Obama is a celebrity who embodies a new generation...That thing, that polls show, produces more positives than recent First Ladies at the outset of past administrations."
Assuras spoke with Washington Post gossip columnist Amy Argetsinger, who exclaimed: "People are sort of reacting to her the way they would to a movie star...She's the youngest First Lady we've had in a while, but she's also got a charisma about her. She's got the height of a fashion model, she looks great in clothes. And, you know, there's kind of that Jackie O thing going on." Following Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal giving the Republican response to Barack Obama’s address to Congress last week, Argetsinger remarked about Jindal: "I found his [pyschotic killer Charles] Manson eyes disturbing."
Oprah Winfrey's been resoundingly in the tank for Barack and Michelle Obama for several years now. On her show the other day, she touted how the Obamas would show the nation how to have family dinner together each night (as if they accomplished that on the campaign trail). On her show Friday, Oprah announced that someone else would share the cover of O Magazine: Michelle Obama, of course.
It's not going to be a hard-hitting story. Oprah's website promises:
Our new First Lady on the surprises of life in the White House ("If you want pie, there's pie! If something breaks, it's fixed. In an hour")...
For all the majesty of the White House, the First Lady has already infused it with a palpable ease; her presence makes the place feel open and approachable. When we sit down to talk, she seems as relaxed as she did when I first interviewed her and her husband in their Chicago apartment in 2004. "This room has the best light in the house," she tells me as we settle in, shoes off, on a comfortable sofa. "And there's pie here, too. The pie in the White House is dangerously good...."
The Obamas, Barack and Michelle both, pretty much diplomatically botched the recent visit of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his wife. Oddly enough, the U.S. Old Media seems uninterested in the story that is a hot topic in England, a story that's left many Brits a bit miffed.
As the visit of the national leader of our closest ally began, the President informed the Brits that he wouldn't be attending the joint press conference that was planned to be held once PM Brown's plane touched down. This threw the visiting delegation into a tizzy leaving them scrambling to explain the sudden change in plans to the folks back home. Still, meetings were had and things smoothed out. Eventually the visit seemed to right itself... then came the Obama's gift gaffes.
CNN commentator Jack Cafferty flat out admitted in a CNN.com commentary on Tuesday that he is “developing a crush on America’s first lady,” Michelle Obama: “Michelle Obama is more compelling than her husband. He’s good, but she’s utterly fascinating....Mrs. Obama has blown away the stale air in a White House musty from eight years of the Bushes. It’s like the sun came out and a fresh spring breeze began wafting through the open windows.”
Such high praise for a member of the Obama family isn’t something new for Cafferty. Almost a week earlier, the CNN commentator gushed over President Obama’s seeming calm in the midst of all the serious issues that the country faces: “...[O]ur president seems remarkably unruffled by all of this, serene in an inner confidence that he’s got what it takes to lead this country back into the sunlight.”
Teasing a fawning segment on First Lady Michelle Obama on Thursday’s CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric declared: "And the lady of the house feeling right at home." Couric later introduced the segment: "And finally tonight, ever since Abigail Adams moved into the White House in 1800, every First Lady has brought her own personal touch to the executive mansion, and the city of Washington. As Bill Plante tells us, the new First Lady is busy making her mark."
White House Correspondent Bill Plante gave a glowing review of the First Lady’s first month: "For Michelle Obama, welcoming famous Americans to the White House seems effortless...But the new First Lady goes from traditionally elegant and formal to relaxed and casual with ease. Just days before this tribute to Stevie Wonder, she charmed culinary students in the White House kitchen, talking about how tough it is to get her kids to eat vegetables...Michelle Obama's been to all the usual places around Washington -- the Kennedy Center, Fords Theater, and nationally, she's been on the covers of Vogue and People magazine...After a month, it's already clear that Michelle Obama won't be content to stay behind these well-guarded gates at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue."
Plante concluded his report by observing: "She's also been touring government agencies, but it's her message to local children that seems most important to her. As she tells them over and over, you, too, can be President or First Lady...And it's her ability to connect that could make her mark as First Lady."
Keep in mind this is supposed to be a "modest," not laughable, proposal by the New Republic: replace Roland Burris in the U.S. Senate with Michelle Obama. And if she is not available, then send Barack Obama's mother-in-law to the Senate. I kid you not. Stand by for yet the latest chapter in Obama worship as you read this "modest" proposal by Jason Zengerle of the New Republic titled, "A Modest Proposal to Solve the Burris Problem":
Roland Burris is obviously going to put "U.S. Senator" on his mausoleum, but I can think of another entry that might belong there, as well: "Destroyer of the Illinois Democratic Party."
On Wednesday night's "Hardball," Chris Matthews cheered how "hip," "today," and "youthful," the Obamas looked at last night's address to Congress before immediately transitioning into offering this backhanded blurb for the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC): "If you like Star Trek conventions, you'll love this baby!" While it is fair to say you won't be seeing Jay-Z performing at CPAC any time soon, the comparison to a Star Trek convention crowd was definitely a dig at conservatives' expense. However Matthews did go on to out himself as a former CPAC attendee: "So if you can't catch a Star Trek convention you've got CPAC coming here. It's always fun. Because I grew up as a conservative. I liked a lot of this stuff."
The following references to CPAC occurred on the February 25, edition of "Hardball":
MATTHEWS DURING SHOW INTRO: And the Conservative Political Action Conference begins its three day meeting tomorrow in Washington. And take a look at some of the panels being offered. "Al Franken and ACORN: How Liberals Are Destroying the American Election System." "Will Congress Take Your Guns?" "The True Cost of Global Warming Hysteria." If you like Star Trek conventions, you'll love this baby.
In commemoration of the one-month anniversary of the Obama family moving into the White House, on Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez declared: "For the last month, as President Obama has settled into running the country, the first family has settled into life at the White House. While President Obama has been trying to repair our failing economy, First Lady Michelle Obama has become his number one advocate. Visiting five federal agencies this month,plugging her husband's economic stimulus plan."
Rodriguez went on to describe the Obamas hitting the Washington D.C. social scene: "In one month, the Obamas have engaged in their community, reading to school kids and visiting community organizations...They've become part of the local scene, eating out and attending a performance at the Kennedy Center. They're familiarizing themselves with their new home...They just hosted their first black-tie dinner and have entertained nearly 200 school children at the White House. But above all, in five weeks, Mr. and Mrs. Obama have learned their role as parents-in-chief to daughters Malia and Sasha."
It's Friday in the East Wing of the Obama White House, the realm of first lady Michelle Obama.
Many of the cream-colored walls are still bare. The Obama administration, after all, is just one month old.
But there is a growing photo collection in the hallways that charts the increasing activity of the first lady in the last two weeks as she settles in to her new role and starts expanding her portfolio of issues.
The newest item on her non-controversial agenda is healthy living. That's in addition to assisting military families, pushing work-family balance, national service, women's concerns and opening up the White House to the community.
Wow! Can you imagine one woman accomplishing so very much so quickly? But the fawning has just begun as Sweet moves on:
Newsweek reporter Andrew Romano, a specialist in the youth vote (because he's Princeton '04), attempts to describe how he found the under-30 generation adores the marital bliss of the Obamas in this week's magazine. The article is headlined "Our Model Marriage: The Obamas have the kind of relationship millennials aspire to." Romano described how his contemporaries were much wilder in their enthusiasm for the Obamas than they were for rapper Kanye West, and how they have become for young voters "the swooniest couple around."
Kanye West is a tough act to follow -- unless you are a middle-aged couple slow dancing to tuba music. It's unlikely that anyone watching last month's Youth Inaugural Ball on TV noticed much difference between how the crowd of millennials welcomed the Louis Vuitton don and how they reacted, a few minutes later, when Barack and Michelle Obama took the stage. But if you were actually in the audience -- like me, and my eardrums -- the change was impossible to ignore. The young people screamed. The young people sighed. Several young people even began to weep. "I hope my husband looks at me like that someday," said one girl. When the song stopped, Obama leaned into the mike. "That's what's called 'old school'," he cracked. The new-school crowd responded like a bunch of banshees.
In Monday’s Washington Post, media reporter Howard Kurtz raised a question few in the media have asked in all the cooing over Michelle Obama’s cover story in Vogue magazine. Isn’t it relevant to know that the writer, Andre Leon Talley, was also a host of an $1,000-a-head Obama fundraiser starring Mrs. Obama? (NBC’s Today didn’t say a word about that in a gauzy interview with Talley last week celebrating how Michelle was at the "red hot center" of both fashion and politics.) Kurtz reported:
The Vogue cover story on Michelle Obama, by editor at large André Leon Talley, is nothing if not laudatory: "With her long, lean, athletic frame, she moves as if she could have danced with Alvin Ailey in another life. Curled up in the corner of a huge taupe velvet sofa, wearing knee-high boots as she nestles into the cushions, she almost seems like any other mom recently relocated to a city because of her husband's new job."
The Talley article mentions briefly that Obama showed up "at a fundraiser I co-hosted last year." That would be a $1,000-a-head fundraiser -- "An Evening With Michelle Obama" -- also hosted by Vogue editor Anna Wintour and designer Calvin Klein.
Her husband may finally be facing scrutiny, but the media still faint for Michelle.
“Pep rally.” “Rock show.” “Church service.” These were the words a Washington Post staff writer used to describe a brief appearance by the first lady at a government agency on Wednesday. It’s part of the ongoing drumbeat of press adulation for all things Obama.
On Feb. 5, Richard Leiby penned a glowing narrative of Michelle Obama’s political stop at the Department of Housing and Urban Development headquarters in Washington, D.C. to promote her husband’s economic plan. The Obamas may be all about “change,” but the entrenched bureaucracy sure seems to love them.
The crowd of government workers, which Leiby said had waited in line for hours, “raised their cameras aloft to capture her…the most famous woman in the world.” Leiby didn’t say whether he was troubled that the waiting, the “wild adulation” and the shouts of “We love you!” occurred during taxpayer-funded work hours.
“Dressed in a satiny purple blouse, gray jacket and skirt, Mrs. Obama only talked for about eight minutes but spent as much time wading into the crowd as the outro music blared: ‘Ain't No Stopping Us Now.’”
On last Friday's "Today" show, Ann Curry interviewed two magazine editors on the subject of Michelle and Barack Obama and rhapsodized over the effect the power couple could have on America. Speaking to the creative director of Ebony magazine, she fawned, "The question I think, really, ultimately, is who are we going to be because of them? Who are we going to be as a nation?"
In a set-up piece to the segment, NBC reporter Norah O'Donnell described how the first lady, during ceremonies in the days after the inauguration, personally greeted Americans at the White House. She extolled, "In fact, Michelle Obama is slowly reinventing the traditional role of the President's wife, bringing her own version of change to the White House." O'Donnell also seemed impressed with the reports that Barack Obama no longer requires a tie and coat in the Oval Office. She touted, "And things just seemed more casual around the White House. The President without a jacket in the Oval Office. The first lady sporting J. Crew."
Anchor Wolf Blitzer and Vanity Fair correspondent Maureen Orth raved about the core members of the Obama administration and their pictures taken by photographer Annie Liebovitz during a segment on CNN’s Situation Room on Monday. Their conversation sounded as if the two were suddenly back in high school browsing a new yearbook. Blitzer gushed over the photos of President Obama and his wife Michelle and that of UN Ambassador Susan Rice, while Orth extolled how “they [the new administration] want a green America. They really do.”
Blitzer zeroed-in on Liebovitz’s photography at the beginning of the segment, as he introduced Orth: “...[Y]ou’ve got a new cover. It’s a pretty nice cover, about the new president of the United States....These pictures by Annie Liebovitz, the photographer, are really great pictures because it says a lot about the president, the first lady.” The two first discussed a shot of the Obamas walking outside the presidential limo on Inauguration Day, and the CNN anchor just couldn’t get enough: “[T]hey were walking down Pennsylvania Avenue. Who can forget that moment?...Look at those huge smiles....They are obviously holding hands, and very excited.” Orth replied, “Yeah, total energy. That was such an energetic day all the way around.”
Michelle may bring home the bacon, but she sure doesn't fry it up in a pan.
During last year's presidential campaign, the media worked overtime to portray John and Cindy McCain as wealthy private jet junkies with more homes than they can remember, while showcasing Barack and Michelle Obama as just another middle class family with two working parents, one car and freshly paid off student loans. In 2008, a media frenzy whirled around Mrs. McCain's income and the $170,000 she paid household staff in 2006.
On the other hand, Mrs. Obama was defined as an average mom who juggled work and home with extraordinary skill. According to the media, she arranged sleepovers, scoured Target for the perfect wardrobe and served healthy organic dinners. Just like us common folk, right? Well, almost. Those healthy organic dinners were cooked by the Obamas' personal chef, Sam Kass.
Funny how the media didn't mention that on the campaign trail, particularly in all of those syrupy, hagiographic interviews where Michelle discussed her family life, such as this October 17, 2008 CBS "Early Show" segment where she danced around answering reporter Maggie Rodriguez when she asked, “Who cooks at home?” (emphasis mine):
A caption describing six color pictures of Michelle’s wardrobe reads "SUITING HERSELF: On the campaign trail Michelle Obama signaled an interest in both looking stylish and advancing the cause of American fashion by mixing off-the-rack items from stories like J. Crew with high-end pieces from designers like Thakoon Panichgul."
President-elect Obama came to the national stage with a quip like, "There is not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America. There's the United States of America."
It is too bad his supporters in the media did not believe him. Obama has not even been sworn in yet, and the mainstream media is already finding divisive ways to fan the flames of racial politics.
Michael Kranish uses some unusual comparisons pertaining to American slavery and the inauguration of Obama in a December 28th Boston Globe piece located in the news section.
Kranish begins by pointing out Obama will be sworn in on grounds that slave labor built. He reminds readers Obama will stand before a crowd where blacks were previously sold as human property(my emphasis throughout):
It appears Obamamania has not only infiltrated British newspapers, but so has Palin Derangement Syndrome...even in the fashion section.
Is there any safe place a person can go these days without being told Michelle Obama is "a goddess [who] stepped onto the world stage and made it her own...married to someone who is, frankly, a sex god," or that Sarah Palin is the "worst dressed" woman in the world "who may have spent $150,000 on six suits but still resembled a hopelessly sexless, up [sic] hockey mom who buys all her clothes from Wal-Mart?"
Apparently not, as the following appeared in Saturday's Daily Mail (h/t NBer Blonde):
Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz found a story in USA Today that qualified for the "Obama Adulation Watch." Reporter Maria Puente oozed over incoming First Lady Michelle Obama on Friday as the black Jackie Kennedy, and insisted the Obamas undermined the conservative "caricature" of her "through widely viewed television interviews in which they demonstrated warmth, affection, humor -- and normality." It began:
You could call it "Obamalot."
That makes some sense. The incoming presidential couple, Barack and Michelle Obama, bear superficial similarities to John and Jacqueline Kennedy of the 1960s "Camelot" White House — charisma, vigor, her fondness for sheath dresses, for instance.
CNN has a segment that they call "CNN Student News" that is supposed to highlight the news of the day for the kiddie set. Pursuant to that, in a December 15 segment, CNN floats a question asking if Michelle Obama (or any First Lady) should get a government salary just for being First Lady?
But, what we really ended up with is a slight to those same students to whom CNN was ostensibly relating the news. No where in the report was there any talk of the Constitution in particular nor the law in general as the CNN anchor cajoled the kids into viewing with awe the "work" of the First Lady and in fostering in them a feeling that First Ladies should be paid for this "work."
In fact, one interview during the segment even made happy talk of the fact that, during the Clinton administration, Hillary Clinton's travel and causes forced a "moving public works project" wherever she went. There was no hint of the burden this posed on the places she visited and no sense that these expenditures were unfunded nor that such expenditures were never voted on by the people of the states she visited. The kids are left uninformed that this "moving public works" burden was forced upon taxpayers unawares.
In the interview for Wednesday’s Barbara Walters Special on ABC with Barack and Michelle Obama, excerpts of which were also shown on Wednesday’s World News with Charles Gibson, Walters asked few questions that put the Obamas on the defensive, in contrast with her January 2001 interview, aired on 20/20, with then-President-elect Bush in which she challenged him on a number of fronts. Most notably, she seemed to chide Bush for choosing John Ashcroft as Attorney General because he "openly opposes abortion," and claimed that Ashcroft was "not considered a friend to civil rights." She asked Bush about reports that, as governor of Texas, he "spent relatively little time studying specific issues," and "only does a few hours of work" a day. The ABC host also challenged Bush from the left on the trade embargo against Cuba, and even asked Laura Bush if her more "traditional" plans for her time as First Lady would be a "setback for women." It is also noteworthy that Walters asked Bush about his plans for dealing with Saddam Hussein and cited "people in the know" who contended that the Iraqi dictator was "stronger than ever."
Columnist Kathleen Parker is syndicated by the Washington Post Writers Group, but she was very rarely in the Post before she started her religious-right-bashing crusade against Sarah Palin. (The Post published her wacky theory that McCain picked Palin because he had the Monica Hots for her.) On Friday, the Post published her again – as she compared Barack and Michelle Obama to Ward and June Cleaver, their ultraliberal views on social issues be damned:
You want Ward Cleaver? Meet Barack Obama. Michelle is June Cleaver with a law degree. Family values don't get more traditional than those of the Obamas, who ooze marital bliss and whose adorable daughters make feminist cynics want to bake cookies and learn to smock.
Though we may perish of boredom, the Obamas may do more to elevate the American family than all the pro-marriage initiatives conceived by those who claim to speak for the deity. As a family unit, they're not significantly different from the Bushes, but they can be an inspiration in particular to African Americans.
Barbara Walters invites Great Leader to "give" Thanksgiving message to "the people." Great Leader obliges: be inspired by . . . me.
Check out the clip of Barbara Walters's interview of the Obamas, aired on GMA today, and tell me whether you find something off-putting in the way Walters poses what is, after all, a very banal question. And then there's the President-elect's self-centered answer . . .
ABC’s Barbara Walters couldn’t contain herself as she previewed her upcoming interview with Barack and Michelle Obama on Wednesday’s Good Morning America: “[T]hey’re very -- I don’t know how to put it. I don’t want to gush. They’re very cute, and very -- and very funny in this interview together.” Walters played two clip of the interview, which is set to air on ABC’s 20/20 on Wednesday night, in which she asked the president-elect softball questions such as, “How did you feel when you read about the three heads of the auto companies taking private planes to Washington?”
Good Morning America co-host Robin Roberts interviewed Walters just after the top of the 7 am Eastern hour of the ABC program, as “The View” co-host played the two clips from her time with the Obamas. During the first clip, after asking how the outgoing Illinois senator felt about the auto executives and their private planes, Walters brought up another group of business leaders: “Should bank executives -- it’s almost Christmastime -- forego their bonuses?” Once Mr. Obama gave his answer, she posed a question about a much less serious matter: “How are you going to get along without your Blackberry?” Roberts broke in after he answered, and remarked how it was “so tough to give up that Blackberry.”
Like clockwork Barbara Walters successfully landed an interview with President-elect Barack Obama and his wife Michelle. Channeling Lee Cowan, Walters claimed on the November 26 edition of “The View” she is “supposed to be neutral” then heaped praise on the Obamas. Barbara painted the soon to be first couple as “so smart” and “the most appealing couple” and then passed on a White House invite to all of “The View” co-hosts.
Joy Behar could not resist avoiding a swipe at the outgoing Bush administration wondering if Obama is “worried that Bush would cause more damage in the next 60 days” and felt “worried about that.”
Are you looking for hard hitting, serious journalism? Don't turn to the syndicated "newsmagazines" like Access Hollywood, Entertainment Tonight, or The Insider (not that anyone ever did, of course). They are apparently admitting right up front that they have every intention of pumping up the Obama mythos by treating him "like royalty."
TV Week is reporting that all the so-called "newsmagazines" (a misnomer for sure as tabloid spectacles are more to the truth of the matter) are going to try and fuel a ratings bump by promulgating Obamalot in a direct emulation of JFK's mythical "Camelot" years in office -- which in itself was another self-perpetuated media myth.
CHICAGO -- Many women recoil at the thought of baring their arms in sleeveless dresses or blouses, but not Michelle Obama -- half of the fabulously fit new first couple.
Both President-elect Barack Obama and the future first lady have exercise routines that would put most people to shame. Michelle Obama used to join a friend for 4:30 a.m. workouts, and Barack Obama usually starts his day in the gym.
Michelle Obama has hosted "The View," been interviewed on "60 Minutes," graced the cover of Newsweek and hit the campaign trail, all with her buff arms bared.
"One of the things I always talk about is got to exercise," the 44-year-old mother of two told an overwhelmingly female crowd at a campaign event last year in Chicago.