After Michelle Obama's Monday night speech at the Democratic National Convention, ABC and NBC mentioned her “for the first time in my adult lifetime I'm proud of my country” previous slap at the United States, but in the context of how she resolved any doubts. ABC's George Stephanopoulos declared:
“Tonight, there was no doubt. The money line in this speech was that line when she said, 'that is why I love this country,' and she lingered.” Noting how “we heard the word 'America' or 'American' or 'Americans' 12 times,” NBC's Chuck Todd decided “this is definitely a response in some ways to that whole kerfuffle that she created for herself, six or eight months ago, about being proud to be an American.”
CBS didn't touch on the topic during its prime time hour, though during an interview with Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, Katie Couric described Mrs. Obama not as controversial, but as “slightly controversial.” In a taped session later with Craig Robinson, Michelle's older brother, Couric wondered: “What one word would you like viewers all across the country to use to describe your sister?” When he suggested “sincere,” Couric agreed: “That's a good word.”
On the ideological labeling front, Ted Kennedy's appearance the hour before, highlights of which led all three broadcast networks at 10 PM EDT, failed to prompt a single liberal label on ABC or CBS, but NBC applied the tag three times, two of those to describe Kennedy as a “liberal lion.” (CNN and MSNBC provided scattered liberal labeling.)
How unbalanced was MSNBC's tag team tonight? When Keith Olbermann felt himself getting verklempt over Michelle Obama's speech, he threw it, for some fair-n-balanced commentary, to . . . Chris Matthews. At the conclusion of Mrs. Obama's appearance, Olbermann almost seemed ready to call the election off and just hand the presidency to Obama by acclamation.
KEITH OLBERMANN: Ye-a-h-h-h. Case closed.
Matthews responded with a very guttural "uh-h-h-h."
OLBERMANN: That could not have done better for them. That could not have done better for them. Right to the point of the little girls taking the mikes away and suddenly turning out to be hams. It's wonderful. It really was terrific. And notice, did you notice throughout that, especially as it built towards its conclusion, the woman in that convention hall--the ones we saw at least--we can't say every one--but there were tears throughout among the women. And it was not a maudlin speech, it was not a salesmanship speech. There was just a -- I know, I'm beginning to sound borderline sycophantic on this. So I'll stop. You start.
Live from Denver, Colorado, on Monday, Brian Williams hosted the 1 p.m. hour of MSNBC's "News Live" and featured guests Gwen Ifill of PBS and Michele Norris of NPR to talk about Michelle Obama’s upcoming primetime speech at the Democratic National Convention. The segment turned out to be a love-fest of Michelle Obama and her humble roots.
Williams started off the segment by asking the typical question of "what does Michelle Obama have to do tonight in this hall?" Ifill immediately went into gushing mode, first about Senator Ted Kennedy and then about Obama:
Michelle Obama has to find a way to bemore amazing and more emotional than Ted Kennedy. If it looks like Ted Kennedy actually walks across that stage tonight and appears in some fashion in person and speaks, it’s gonna be an emotional highpoint. Michelle Obama, however, also has to deal with preconceptions about who she is. A lot of people have never seen anything that looks like a Michelle Obama before. She’s educated, she’s beautiful, she’s tall, she tells you what she thinks and they hope that she can tell a story about Barack Obama and about herself.
In preparation for Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democratic convention, Monday’s CBS Early Show continued it’s fawning over the wife of the presidential candidate as co-host Harry Smith declared: "Michelle Obama steps out tonight to address the nation. Is she Barack's best asset?" The show featured three segments on Michelle Obama, two of which were complete fluff.
In the first segment, Bianca Solorzano looked at five things that people might not know about Michelle Obama: "Michelle Obama is known for her fashion-forward style, but when it comes to her style of eating, she likes good old-fashioned comfort food. We asked close friend and family confidant Valerie Jarrett to give us the inside scoop, beginning with Michelle's favorite food." Jarrett replied: "Oh, that's easy, French fries." Jarrett is of course an Obama campaign worker, in addition to being a "family confidant." It was also revealed that Michelle Obama exercises daily, her favorite singer is Stevie Wonder, and she watched the ‘Dick Van Dyke Show’ as a child. In June, the Early Show did a similar segment on Barack Obama and informed viewers that he "loves to play scrabble" but "does not like ice cream."
Solorzano went on to highlight how outspoken Michelle Obama is: "Another thing close to Michelle's heart -- honest views." A clip was played of Obama appearing on ABC’s The View claiming that: "People aren't used to strong women."
ABC’s Chris Cuomo kicked off Democratic Convention week with a very positive portrayal of Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett. On the August 25 edition of "Good Morning America," Cuomo asked such hard hitting questions as to Michelle Obama’s fashion choice the night of her speech.
Cuomo portrayed Jarrett as a friendly house wife neighbor of the Obamas', Cuomo declared Jarrett has "been called as close to [Obama] as a sister." What Cuomo neglected to note that, according to David Freddoso, Valerie Jarrett "was the chief executive of a company that managed a housing complex that became so run-down it was seized by the federal government."
The morning host could not be bothered with such inconvenient facts, instead asked the staunch Obama supporter "what don’t they know that you know?" "is he ready?" and "what is your greatest fear for Barack and Michell?"
Chris Cuomo only asked mildly tough questions about why Obama did not pick Hillary Clinton as his running mate and the recent tightening in the polls.
Monday’s "American Morning" featured a segment on CNN political analyst Roland Martin’s recent TV One interview with Michelle Obama which seemingly sought to counter negative assertions about Obama by Republicans and “crazy folks on the right.”
After airing a clip of Obama talking about her blue-collar upbringing, during which she stated that her story was the "quintessential American story," co-host Kiran Chetry asked Martin about how important it would be for Obama to address that in her speech at the Democratic National Convention. In his reply, Martin contended that "crazy folks on the right" are to blame for mischaracterizations of Obama, although he has previously acknowledged that "idiot Democrats" were also to blame for certain rumors:
CHETRY: Roland, how important is it going to be for her to bring that up tonight as she gives the speech?
MARTIN: It’s vital because it lays the foundation that, look, I’m just like you. I’m not, you know, I wasn’t some rich kid who went to Princeton and Harvard where I had a silver spoon in my mouth. She makes the point in the interview on TV One last night that, look, I was born in a two bedroom apartment, grew up with my brother, my dad, my mom. So, when you’re able to tell that story, you’re able to counter this different kind of version that’s been put upon her by frankly a lot of the crazy folks on the right.
Presumptive Democrat presidential nominee Barack Obama has positioned himself as the champion of the poor and all those that can't afford health insurance.
Maybe he should direct his efforts to the hospital his wife Michelle works for, as it appears the University of Chicago Medical Center "steers patients who don't have private insurance -- primarily poor, black people -- to other health care facilities."
As reported by the Chicago Sun-Times Saturday (emphasis added throughout, h/t NBer saw the light, photo courtesy NY Daily News):
Did you know that if you have a negative view of Michelle Obama, it's all Fox News's fault?
Such seems to be the opinion of Barack Obama who told the magazine Marie Claire, "I think that if you've been watching Fox News then probably she's misunderstood, because I do think there's been a fairly systematic attempt by the conservative press to paint her in a completely false way."
Fox News's Greta Van Susteren heard about this statement by Obama, and took issue with it during an interview she did Monday with the magazine's editor (video embedded right, h/t NBer Thomas Stewart):
The Chicago Sun-Times today includes Mary Mitchell's column, "We can deny it, but race slithers into campaign." The subheadline reads "Obama, his campaign trying to transcend it -- but can't." The article makes a startling assertion about Senator Barack Obama:
Obama tries to avoid talking about race, as do his surrogates, staffers and supporters.
ABC's Robin Roberts treated Michelle Obama to a thoroughly positive (and at times gushing) interview on Thursday's "Good Morning America," sympathizing with Mrs. Obama about negative ads against her husband and "The New Yorker" cover which cast her as a black militant. Roberts also touted how Michelle Obama "has turned her attention to...improving the lives of military families," and asked about "Obama family vacation traditions," such as heated games of Scrabble.
Throughout the nearly 6 minute session, Roberts posed no questions about the controversies that have dogged Mrs. Obama on the campaign trail, such as her statement that this year -- as her husband runs for President -- is the first time she has been proud of this country.
The Obama campaign appears to have come up with a neat way to deflect criticism of the presumptive Democrat presidential nominee's failure to visit wounded American troops while visiting Germany last month: have wife Michelle sponsor a meeting with military families.
As CNN.com reported Monday (emphasis added): "Days after a television spot from John McCain’s campaign suggested Barack Obama did not hold enough respect for members of the military, the presumptive Democratic nominee’s campaign announced Monday that Michelle Obama will host a roundtable discussion with military spouses highlighting the launch of a military families advisory group."
UPDATE AT END OF POST: OBAMA MISSES THE FOLLOWING TOWN HALL MEETING FOR A VACATION AND FUNDRAISER IN HAWAII!
I guess the campaign felt this was a better idea than the junior senator from Illinois attending a presidential town hall meeting to be held next Monday in Fort Hood, Texas, the largest active-duty military installation in the country (photo courtesy NY Daily News). As the Dallas Morning News reported Monday, much like in July when he couldn't find the time to visit our wounded soldiers at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, Obama is also too busy to meet with families at Fort Hood (emphasis added):
Rush Limbaugh likes to joke that he has "half my brain tied behind my back, just to keep it fair." But there's no sign Michelle Obama [file photo] was anything but serious when she said something similar in a current People magazine interview, h/t Michelle Malkin. Mrs. Obama claimed she could be "very competent" on policy putting in only a 70% effort.
Throw in a few more statements from Mrs. Obama during the interview attesting to her own intellect, and a picture emerges of a woman either very sure--or insecure--about her smarts.
In the wake of Barack Obama’s complaints featured in Glamour magazine about Republican attacks on his wife, “MNSBC News Live” host Tamron Hall interviewed the Chicago Tribune’s Mike Dorning on the subject.
After asking Dorning if Democrats have ever attacked Republican spouses, Hall claimed that Cindy McCain has not been a target for the Democrats in this election:
We have not seen the Democrats, uh, during this election cycle attack Cindy McCain. Do you at all believe that that will happen if these attacks from the Republicans continue? Will it be a tit-for-tat that could inevitably make voters feel very uncomfortable?
Dorning went along with the assertion and even brought up criticism of Cindy McCain in the process:
On Cindy McCain, I don’t think people are gonna attack her unless they think it will help the political cause. And the only place I could see something coming up there that would actually be politically effective would be over the whole foreign buyout of Budweiser. Her family owns a lot of stock in Anheuser-Busch and obviously she would benefit from that. But in general it doesn’t quite fit the tone that the Barack Obama campaign wants to establish that they’re supposedly getting beyond attack politics. So I don’t see how that would profit them.
Of course, Cindy McCain has already been the subject of Democratic attacks. As Jake Tapper noted in his Political Punch blog in May, the Democratic National Committee attacked Mrs. McCain for not publicly releasing her tax returns:
"Authenticity a priority for the other Obama," blares the headline for a puffy July 17 Denver Post story on the Illinois senator's wife Michelle Obama. The story by staffers Suzanne Brown and Dana Coffield lamented that:
Michelle Obama's life as a contemporary political wife has been rocky at times. Her work life has been scrutinized. Papers she wrote as a senior in college have been dredged up and analyzed; the friendly fist-bump she sometimes gives her husband on stage has been parsed. And this week, she and Barack Obama were caricatured on the cover of The New Yorker magazine as a pair of terrorists.
But have no fear, for:
Through it all, she's been reluctant to change her tone.
"It would be hard for me to edit myself and still be me," she says. "And I think that in the end, that's what the voters deserve and it's what they want. I feel that it's my duty to make sure that people know who I am and then they can make make a clear, informed decision based on the truth of who I am."
During a segment on CNN’s "Newsroom" program on Monday afternoon, anchor Kyra Phillips voiced her clear objections to The New Yorker’s satirical depiction of Michelle Obama as a radical leftist and Barack Obama as a Muslim. "If I see this magazine cover, okay? And I mean, this is pretty racial. I mean, let's look at it again. You've got Michelle Obama in an Afro. You know, you've got, you know, her husband, Barack Obama, in a turban. We're talking about racism and terrorism. I mean, these are -- and burning of the flag. These are the most sensitive issues in our country right now. If I see that, I'm going to think, oh my God, is this who we want in the White House?" She later asked the question, "Do you think in any way that this cover sets us back, that it's more divisive than anything else and only proves that we're still pretty racially insensitive?"
Look for Mika Brzezinski outside the Danish embassy. True, the Danes had nothing to do with the New Yorker's publication of the Obama cover. But what more time-honored locale to protest an irreverent cartoon of a figure adulated with religious fervor?
Mika has condemned the New Yorker cover as "dangerous." Why dangerous? Mika doesn't quite say. But by darkly musing about unspoken perils that derive from the mocking of Obama, she would apparently place irony about her candidate off limits. Mika sounded the alarm on today's Morning Joe.
The general election campaign began in earnest when Barack Obama wrapped up the Democratic nomination the night of June 3. Since then, the New York Times has continued to flatter the Obama campaign with superior coverage, as shown in a story count conducted by Times Watch.
Consistently, Barack Obama and his wife Michelle were portrayed as racial trailblazers whose religious beliefs and patriotism (and his lack of a flag pin) came under vicious and unfair attacks by conservatives. Meanwhile, John McCain was portrayed as a stiff, out-of-touch, gaffe-prone speaker struggling to appease the right wing of his party.
Between June 5 and July 5 (skipping June 4 to eliminate the pro-Obama skew from news reports of him clinching the Democratic nomination), the Times ran 90 stories on Barack Obama, compared to 57 on McCain (there was some overlap, as several stories devoted significant space to both candidates). Times Watch logged those stories one of three ways, as either positive, negative or neutral toward the respective candidate. The findings were striking: If Hillary Clinton thought she got an unfair shake from the press against Barack Obama (she did), then John McCain certainly has a legitimate bias beef against the Times.
Michelle Obama has made a lot of news with her now infamous soundbite about how America is “downright mean” and that “for the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country.”
But the mainstream media feel that they must defend the potential first lady and show her “softer side.”
During the 1 PM hour of Monday's MSNBC News Live, host Andrea Mitchell interviewed Susan Page, USA Today Washington Bureau Chief, about the newspaper’s interview with Michelle Obama. During their discussion of Obama, Mitchell gushed: “She’s Princeton, she’s Harvard, she’s so smart and so beautiful and, you know, a mom and a wife and a partner and yet people get caricatured.”
Shortly after Michelle Obama’s appearance as a guest host on ABC’s the View, her choice of clothing began attracting media attention, turning political and general assignment journalists into fashion critics. NBC’s Today show claimed that "fashion icon" Obama had started a "frock frenzy." Before that, NBC's Lee Cowan, who has said covering Barack Obama makes his "knees quake," gushed that "Michelle Obama had always been there, dressed as brightly as her husband's smile."
Well today, Chicago Tribune fashion columnist Wendy Donahue took a stab at political commentary, using Obama’s dress as her news hook.
Want to know just how in the tank MSNBC's Dan Abrams is for Barack Obama?
On Thursday's "Verdict," the network's former general manager actually tried to deflect criticism from Michelle Obama by bringing up statements John McCain made concerning his experience as a Vietnam POW making him realize how much he loves America.
This is how Abrams began the program: "Tonight: We have uncovered comments from John McCain on camera that could undermine the steady right-wing attacks against Michelle Obama."
Is that Abrams' role as a journalist: to undermine attacks against the wife of a presidential candidate?
Readers are warned that the following transcript is likely to offend them in a fashion that might not be desired on a Saturday (video embedded upper right, use scrollbars to center, h/t Hot Air via NBer Thomas Stewart):
Charlotte Observer columnist Mary C. Curtis is in high dudgeon. She is all twisted up inside over the seeming lack of support that feminists have for Michelle Obama. She has decided to scold all those recalcitrant feminists, too. Yes, she's all upset over this thing wondering in her June 21 Washington Post op-ed, "Where are Obama's feminist defenders?" Curtis is even moaning that black women are second-class citizens, even with feminists. She is all in righteous indignation about the "The Loud Silence Of Feminists."
Curtis is agonizing over the fact that women aren't defending Michelle Obama. She imagines that feminists have failed women, specifically black women. Well, I agree at some point. Feminists have failed women, but the least of which is Michelle Obama. Not that Curtis seemed to notice, but feminists have indeed been silent on the treatment of women in the Muslim world. They have sat silent over forced weddings, beatings, female circumcision of children, rape, stoning and so-called honor killings going on not just in the Middle East, but in every western country that has a sizable Muslim population.
The softening of Michelle Obama’s image continued Friday morning on NBC’s Today. As if Michelle were an up-and-coming Jackie Kennedy, NBC devoted a story in its first half-hour (usually devoted to substantive news) to raving over Mrs. Obama as a "fashion icon" and the sleeveless dress she wore on ABC’s The View as starting a "frock frenzy." At the top of the show, co-host Matt Lauer announced: "Fashion frenzy. Why women everywhere are dying to get this $148 dress, today, Friday, June 20, 2008."
Nineteen minutes into the first half-hour, the screen graphic was "Fashion Icon? Michelle Obama Frock Frenzy." Co-host Meredith Vieira raved the Michelle dress was a "steal" and that fashion designers "would die to dress her right now." With the celebrated dress hung like a Smithsonian Institution museum piece in the background (reserving Mrs. Obama’s place in the First Lady pantheon already?), Vieira did the gooey girl-talk job Kathie Lee Gifford was hired to do in the 10 am hour:
New York Times reporter Alessandra Stanley watched Michelle Obama's performance as co-host of the morning chat panel "The View" for her Thursday "TV Watch" report, "Michelle Obama Highlights Her Warmer Side," and came away raving about Obama's "all but flawless performance."
But before that, Stanley worked in some snipes against Republicans. After stating unconvincingly that Michelle Obama had "endured far more virulent attacks by her critics" than had Cindy McCain, Stanley succumbed to smug liberal stereotyping and, in a stretch bizarre even for her, reached back to the Equal Rights Amendment to explain why Republican presidential spouses are supposedly passive housewives:
On Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Julie Chen teased an upcoming segment on Michelle Obama appearing on ABC’s "The View": "Also this morning, like Cindy McCain did this past spring, Michelle Obama co-hosted 'The View' yesterday. We're going to see how comfortable she was with the women of 'The View' and what she had to say on everything from sexism in politics to who does the housework in the Obama home."
Later, correspondent Tracy Smith reported: "Perhaps hoping she'd give her husband a bump in the polls, Michelle Obama played co-host on 'The View' yesterday. Tackling topics from panty hose...to political attacks." A clip was then played of "View" co-host Joy Behar asking Obama: "Do you feel there was any sexism in the media?," with Obama replying: "I -- there is -- yes, there's always a level of -- people aren't used to strong women."
Smith later explained appearances by both Cindy McCain and Michelle Obama on "The View" by touting a CBS News poll from April: "58% of voters were undecided on how they felt about Michelle Obama. 75% were undecided about Cindy McCain." Smith then credited Bill Clinton with beginning the trend of presidential candidates, and their wives, making guest appearances on popular shows: "In 1992, then candidate Bill Clinton got attention by playing the sax on Arsenio...Since then, guest spots on entertainment shows have become a political rite of passage." Smith remarked how: "McCain traded barbs with Letterman. And Obama got his groove on with Elllen."
In what was, more or less, a puff piece about Michelle Obama on Thursday's "Today" show, Lee Cowan took Obamagasms to new heights when he described Michelle's fashion sense:
"In victory and in defeat Michelle Obama had always been there, dressed as brightly as her husband's smile, determined though, not to steal the spotlight but to put her signature touch on what's become their campaign."
The above Cowan observation came during a set-up piece for an interview segment with Doris Kearns Goodwin, in which "Today" co-anchor Meredith Vieira strategized with the presidential historian about how Michelle can improve her image. While the segment did mention Michelle's "For the first time in my adult lifetime I'm really proud of my country," gaffe at times it sounded like an E! red carpet fashion breakdown (audio available here):
"Good Morning America" reporter Kate Snow resorted to typical liberal terminology while asking Cindy McCain on Thursday about abortion and "women's rights groups." After observing that her husband, Senator John McCain, has been courting females, Snow simplistically asserted, "...But women's rights groups say once [women voters] discover he's anti-abortion, they may change their minds." So, pro-abortion organizations equal "women's rights groups?"
The interview, which took place in Vietnam where Mrs. McCain has been working with a charity organization, did feature friendly subjects, such as the children of the politician's wife and other topics. But Snow also offered questions that appeared designed to trap McCain. Speaking of Barack Obama, Snow queried, "Would you feel safe with Barack Obama as your president?" After mentioning the lack of interviews Cindy McCain has participated in, the ABC correspondent blurted, "And if [people] say, oh, she's just sort of up there and posing, what would you say to people who think that?" In contrast, "Good Morning America" has delivered numerous softball pieces on the spouses of Democratic presidential candidates.
It's rare to hear an MSM figure flatly suggest that a presidential campaign lied, but Joe Scarborough broke out the the l-word today in wondering whether chief Obama strategist David Axelrod did just that when he emphatically denied, on yesterday's show, that there is a concerted "makeover" of Michelle Obama in the works.
Now her husband’s presidential campaign is giving her image a subtle makeover, with a new speech in the works to emphasize her humble roots and a tough new chief of staff. On Wednesday, Mrs. Obama will do a guest turn on “The View,” the daytime talk show on ABC, with an eye toward softening her reputation.
When Axelrod appeared on Morning Joe yesterday at 7:40 AM EDT, Scarborough quizzed him about the matter [dialogue as per closed-caption transcript]. The senior Obama aide's denial of a makeover plan couldn't have been more categorical: