MSNBC's Savannah Guthrie on Thursday conducted a sycophantic interview with Michelle Obama, urging the First Lady to complain about the "uglier side" of the health care debate. The Daily Rundown co-host sympathetically asked, "There was a lot of vitriol, some pretty hateful things said. And I wondered what your feeling was about that?" [Audio available here.]
Guthrie continued, "Was it hard to stand by and listen to some of that?" Offering the First Lady another softball, she reiterated, "Hearing some of the uglier side of it, did that make you angry?"
The questions didn't get any tougher. Discussing Barack Obama's coming Supreme Court nomination, Guthrie prompted, "You're a Harvard-educated lawyer. Do you think there should be more gender balance, gender equity on the court?" Many of the queries were so vague as to barely qualify as questions: "Do you feel like you have to avoid controversy? Do you feel like you have to edit yourself?"
ABC and NBC on Wednesday night managed to contain to a brief item their enthusiasm for First Lady Michelle Obama planting her garden for the season, but not CBS which dedicated a full story to how the hula-hooping First Lady “is enjoying the kind of popularity her husband would jump through hoops for.”
Employing some creative puns playing off the gardening theme, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric plugged the upcoming topic: “The First Lady planting a garden and harvesting a bumper crop of good will.” And on CBSNews.com: “Michelle Obama Blooms in the White House; Back in the White House Garden, the First Lady's Popularity is Already Growing by the Bushel.” On air, Couric set up the story:
It is spring and Michelle Obama was back in her White House garden today. Nancy Cordes tells us one thing that is already growing is the First Lady's popularity.
Cordes recounted how “her approval ratings stand at 78 percent, higher than her recent predecessors at similar points in their husband's presidencies. She has settled on a signature issue: childhood obesity,” used “her clout to chide grocery manufacturers” and even partook in “hula-hooping to show children how easy it is to get exercise.”
It's gooey enough that Newsweek awarded Michelle Obama its cover story this week, titled "Feed Your Children Well: My Fight Against Childhood Obesity." On Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams added to the popularity-boosting effort by determining that she is not anti-Twinkie:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: On the same subject, first lady Michelle Obama today continued her campaign against childhood obesity in this country. She's on the cover of Newsweek this week, as you may know. And today the magazine's editor Jon Meacham asked her, in fighting the obesity epidemic, would she go so far as to put warning labels on products like Twinkies and Froot Loops?
MICHELLE OBAMA: That strikes me as extreme because, you know, a Twinkie is not a cigarette. You know? And what, you know, what parents need is just information about what's in the Twinkie and, `How much of this can we eat?' It's not that we can't have a Twinkie, you know? And our kids would be pretty upset.
In part two of her exclusive interview with First Lady Michelle Obama on Tuesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez worried about the toll the presidency takes on Barack Obama: "Your husband is the target of so many of these partisan attacks....He must get frustrated?" Rodriguez later wondered: "Amid all these frustrations, how does he unwind, how does he let that all go?"
Rodriguez asked about Mrs. Obama's reaction to criticism of her husband: "How often do you have to bite your tongue?" The First Lady explained: "You can't go into this if you're thin-skinned or you're worrying about your husband being criticized or you being criticized." Rodriguez remarked, "And criticize they do," and played clips of Dick Cheney and Sarah Palin as examples of the "frustrating partisan attacks" being launched against the President.
Later, Rodriguez asked about the Obama daughters, Malia and Sasha, and how they deal with the "poisonous environment" of Washington: "Do they not hear the attacks?" Mrs. Obama replied: "Everyone in this country cares about those girls....we have been pleasantly surprised that our children have experienced that kind of good naturedness of this country."
In an exclusive interview with First Lady Michelle Obama on Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez fretted over the future of ObamaCare: "Deadlines keep getting missed for passing health care. Obstacles keep mounting....Unfortunately at the moment...health care is being held hostage by partisanship."
Rodriguez introduced the interview by proclaiming that the First Lady: "acknowledges the many hurdles to passing it [health care reform], but insists it will remain a top priority for the President." In her first question to Mrs. Obama, Rodriguez focused on the President's determination to get something passed: "Will your husband ever give up on trying to find a compromise?" After Obama replied that "we can't afford to give up," Rodriguez concluded: "You can't imagine a scenario where he would not finish the job on health care?" Obama declared: "My hope is that the country understands that we need to do this."
Ironically, Rodriguez later focused on political partisanship: "Democrats are losing a lot of legislators, either they're leaving or incumbents are losing. How do you stop the bleeding?...What do you think could help Democrats keep those crucial seats?"
Good Morning America co-host Robin Roberts tossed softballs to Michelle Obama in an interview on Tuesday, asking the First Lady to explain how she "feels" when people like Sarah Palin make "light" of her husband's efforts to "make a better world."
After referencing Palin's speech to the tea party convention on Saturday, Roberts played a clip of the former Alaska governor mocking, “How's that hope-y, change-y stuff working out for you?” The GMA co-host offered this aggrieved question: "How do you feel when people are making light of something that was very important to the campaign and had every intent, and still do, to bring hope and change and make it a better world for people?"
A sympathetic Roberts then allowed the First Lady another chance to attack those who would criticize her husband. She empathized, "But, does it sting? Does it sting when you hear those things?" The journalist then simply sat quietly as Mrs. Obama proceeded to blame the Republicans for incivility in Washington.
Michelle Obama sat down for an exclusive, multi-part interview with NBC's Matt Lauer on Wednesday's Today show and as expected with any Q&A with a First Lady the co-host tossed the perfunctory softballs on topics like family life in the White House and her cause of childhood obesity, but Lauer also extended the favorable treatment when discussing health care reform as he pressed: "Will it pass? Can your husband get it done?" Lauer also reminisced with Michelle Obama about his interview with the President last year when "It was a heady time for you as a family and for Democrats," but noted that the "mood and the tone have changed," and admitted to personally being "worried if that stings a bit." [audio available here]
LAUER: You did get out there and push for health care reform. And, and since the loss of Ted Kennedy's seat in Massachusetts, it's, it's far from certain. And it seems some Democrats are willing to maybe let it go to the back burner and let it go with the whimper as opposed to a bang. Will it pass? Can your husband get it done?
OBAMA: I hope so. The country needs health care. It's hard, it's scary, it's confusing, but I hope for our country's sake that we can do this now and not wait until things get worse. I mean, I agree with the President when he said that we don't have the option to do nothing. He's right.
Good Morning America’s Yunji de Nies on Wednesday used the one year anniversary of Michelle Obama's tenure as First Lady to file a fawning look at the "every woman" who is "wowing the world." And while many were focusing on the crushing Democratic defeat in Massachusetts, de Nies gushed, "He may have won the presidency, but when she set foot on Pennsylvania Avenue, Michelle Obama captivated the country." [Audio available here.]
As though de Nies were a PR representative for the First Lady, the ABC reporter could hardly contain herself: "Her spotlight seems to only shine brighter. She's the cover girl on countless magazines with her belted cardigans and signature sleeveless style." Continuing to uncritically hype Mrs. Obama, the journalist rhapsodized, "Mrs. Obama's look is anything but traditional. She wears it all. High fashion to high function, all the while wowing the world."
De Nies recapped many of the press events the First Lady conducted in 2009, including hula hooping on the White House lawn to promote exercise: "She's the healthy host. Mrs. Obama proved that exercise can be fun with enviable results."
On Friday’s CBS Early Show, People magazine editor Betsy Gleick discussed the latest issue, featuring an interview with Barack and Michelle Obama on their one-year anniversary in the White House, declaring: “I think the headline is that they are feeling optimistic that the country is back on track, and that they do feel that there are still some, obviously, huge challenges ahead.”
Co-host Harry Smith added his own insight into President Obama: “...sometimes when you’re not talking to him, in particular, about the news events of the day, he says a lot about himself and what his experience has been like and he talked a lot about being in the bubble.” Gleick agreed: “Absolutely. I mean, one of the most touching parts of the interview is that he just talked about the loneliness of the job and some of the loneliness he embraces, he realizes that he has big decisions that he alone needs to make. But he misses being out among regular people.”
Smith was also in awe of new photos of the first couple: “These pictures also that accompany the piece are just stunning... these may be among the best pictures, I think, we’ve seen of the two of them.” Gleick replied: “They’re beautiful, I agree.”
2009 began as a year of smiles at the Times, with rapture over the "historic" Obama administration. Reporters showered partisan praise on Obama's Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor and first lady Michelle Obama. Meanwhile, the Times resolutely buried emerging left-wing scandals over ACORN and Obama adviser Van Jones. But the smile curdled into a defensive snarl during the long hot summer of "angry," "white," and "bitter" tea party protesters, while Times columnists blamed conservative talk show hosts for a spate of ideologically motivated killings.
But perhaps the apex of outrage at the Times in 2009 was a textbook case of liberal hypocrisy. In Timesland, unions are vital to the lifeblood of a sound economy -- just not at the Times itself.
In ascending order of awfulness, here are the Top 10 lowlights of the Times in 2009 (you can also read all the gory details at Times Watch).
Fawning over First Lady Michelle Obama has been over-the-top, but considering her a "deity" a "goddess," and "a woman not to be contended with so much as worshiped from afar," is a bit much.
Those are the labels Cathy Horyn, the NY Times fashion critic, bestowed upon the First Lady in her Dec. 27 look at the year in fashion.
Horyn compared the straight-forward, "businesslike" style of Sarah Palin to the fashion "insider" style of Obama and surprisingly praised Palin while chiding Obama for not sticking exclusively with American designers.
"Mrs. Obama's choices are all insider, apart from her shorts and those strategically worn plebe numbers from Target and Talbots. If she got any more insider, she'd be backing down a runway," wrote Horyn. "She wears Rodarte, Jason Wu, Sophie Theallet, Narciso Rodriguez, Thakoon, Isabel Toledo and Rick Owens, labels that in terms of creativity and price are at the highest level of fashion. Go much higher and you hit couture."
"In Mrs. Obama, the fashion industry has found a woman it can admire but cannot completely possess. That's because she doesn't favor only one designer or a clique, as her predecessors did," Horyn continued. "Also, she avoids the appearance of being cozy with designers. That's why she's often described in terms reserved for a 1930s screen goddess: ‘regal' and ‘dazzling," a woman not to be contended with so much as worshiped from afar."
The Sunday Arts & Style section of The Washington Post offered the paper’s pronouncements on "The Best and Worst of 2009." The most noteworthy list came on Fashion from Post fashion writer Robin Givhan. It might seem shocking that both Michelle Obama and her social secretary Desiree Rogers ended up on the Worst list. What’s more shocking is that they’re mentioned on the Best list, too – six times.
Before we get to those specifics, Givhan was crystal clear in her distaste for conservative beauty queen Carrie Prejean, putting her on the Worst list for what she said, not what she wore. Notice Givhan avoids using her actual name:
4. Miss California USA epitomizes all the reasons beauty queens should just stick to professing their support for world peace. When you stoop to calling Larry King inappropriate on his own show, you know it's time to just shut your trap.
Bill O'Reilly and Laura Ingraham got into a bit of a tiff on Thursday night's "O'Reilly Factor" that resulted in him calling her a "blind ideologue" as well as a "Kool-aid drinker" after she asked him if he had eaten an "ACORN cookie" at the White House Christmas party earlier in the week.
The spat began when O'Reilly jokingly asked Ingraham if she's going on a dinner date with Howard Dean now that he's bashing the Senate's version of ObamaCare.
It's like you and Michelle Obama. We're like this...I'm gushing over your gushing last night about the Christmas party. I'm still trying to get over that.
From there, the floodgates opened (video embedded below the fold with partial transcript, h/t Tweep Cubachi):
People Magazine practically slipped over their drool-laden piece yesterday involving First Lady Michelle Obama's decision to recycle ornaments for the White House Christmas tree. The opening statement of this piece is so very complimentary of this novel decision, you'd think it was a decision that qualifies Mrs. Obama as a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize next year. (Cause that's a little ridiculous, no?)
"It used to be that Christmas at the White House dazzled visitors with the glitter of thousands of fairy lights. But not this year. Not in this economy and not with this practical-minded first lady."
Apparently, first ladies of years past had celebrated Christmas in the White House with a total disregard for the economy and the environment.
Not so, however...
Shortly after the opening paragraph's praising of the current White House Christmas tree, the People article takes a swipe at the Clintons and Bushes for not being more like the Obamas:
A Wednesday New York Times story by reporter Rachel Swarns on Obama's first state dinner was an overflowing feast of praise -- over 1,000 words celebrating the Obamas.
Swarns is Michelle Obama's chief attendant when it comes to flattering coverage, and she provided it for both the first lady and her husband with a prose style so breathless you'd think there "had never before been a state dinner at the White House," as the Weekly Standard observed of the paper's coverage in the December 7 issue.
It is an old tradition, a White House dinner governed by ritual and protocol that happens to be this city's hottest social event. But at their first state dinner on Tuesday night, President Obama and his wife, Michelle, made sure to infuse the glittering gala with distinctive touches.
They hired a new florist, Laura Dowling, who bedecked the tented outdoor dining room with locally grown, sustainably harvested magnolia branches and ivy. They selected a guest chef, Marcus Samuelsson of Aquavit in New York, an American citizen who was born in Ethiopia, reared in Sweden and cooks up melting pots of flavors and cuisines.
Tuesday night’s state dinner was yet another occasion for the media to fumble around in the basket of superlatives for the Obamas. In a typically unctuous passage on Wednesday, Washington Post writers Robin Givhan and Roxanne Roberts declared the First Lady had brought sexy glamour back to the capital:
The first lady, however, was the star of the show. She glittered in a strapless silver, embroidered gown by the Indian-born designer Naeem Khan. She wore her hair swept back and had piles of sparkling "churis," traditional Indian bracelets, on her wrist. Her ensemble announced that no-holds-barred, Hollywood-style sexy glamour had arrived in Washington.
Left unsaid (but implied): Laura Bush was a sexless, paint-by-numbers wallflower. NPR reporter Andrea Seabrook filed a giddy story on her personal feelings for Wednesday’s Morning Edition that delved into Shakespeare for inspiration: ‘The whole room had a kind of ‘Midsummer Night's Dream’ feeling." Seabrook also thought Mrs. Obama was just perfect:
Amanda Ernst at the Mediabistro blog Fishbowl NY covered Time's little panel discussion on who they should choose as "Person of the Year." Listen to the judgment of ABC's Barbara Walters:
Walters suggested Nancy Pelosi, Steve Jobs, Michelle Obama, Warren Buffett, Google, the Taliban, and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. But Walters also made a case of Madoff, “You put Bernie Madoff on [[the cover]...and you're going to have more discussion and more stuff and more people buzzing."
TV Newser added that during the discussion, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani discussed the influence of Roger Ailes, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck this past year. To that Gayle King said, "I'm getting ill." Fishbowl NYsummed up:
Women's magazines notoriously promote their ideal woman: thin, stylish, beautiful, sexually adventurous. And after seeing who Glamour named as its annual "Women of the Year," readers can now add "liberal" to the list of ideal qualities.
The women featured in Glamour's 2009 list represent a cross-section of accomplished women from different industries - business, politics, sports, entertainment, fashion and humanitarian efforts to name a few.
Cindi Leive, the magazine's editor-in-chief told NBC's Matt Lauer on Nov. 9, that the "common thread" between the women chosen was that "they're not just achieving for themselves, they're really expanding our understanding of what women can accomplish in this world, and that's a great message for young women."
CMI researchers however, found another "common thread" between a majority of the women - they are liberals in good standing, with a record of support for liberal politicians or causes.
For those who missed it last week, here's another chance to catch the October 30 episode of NewsBusters’ Notable Quotables comedy show, featuring some of the most outrageous sound bites from the liberal media.
In this episode, we have CBS fawning over Michelle Obama frolicking on the White House lawn, CNN psychoanalyzing Rush Limbaugh listeners, and MSNBC’s Chris Matthews in need of some psychiatric help of his own.
Showing that the media sees every act by the Obamas as an historic achievement, at the end of Sunday’s Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer was amazed by the romping of First Lady Michelle Obama: “Michelle Obama took it to another level as she set records as the first First Lady to run barefoot across the White House lawn. She also became the first to jump rope there.”
Schieffer began his pointless rambling by looking at how past first ladies, all wives of Democratic presidents, shaped the position:
There was a time when presidential wives were seen on occasion but almost never heard and that’s too bad, some of them had a lot to say. But along came Eleanor Roosevelt and she changed the job description. She was heard a lot and created her own following. Jackie Kennedy brought some glamor to the job. And Hillary Clinton, well, the Clintons used to talk about two for the price of one and people are still talking about whether that was such a good idea.
After explaining how Mrs. Obama “took it to another level,” Schieffer praised her efforts as example to the rest of us: “But whatever her skills at jumping rope, she performed a mean hula hoop. And the kids loved it and it was just a reminder to all us grown-ups that whatever our jobs, it never hurts every once in a while to kick off your shoes and just have a little fun.”
Comedian Wanda Sykes drew little criticism from the "objective" media for wishing Rush Limbaugh’s kidneys would fail in a dinner thrown by the White House Correspondents Association in May. In her new HBO special, I’m A Be Me, Sykes continues her love for the Obamas, and her hate for anyone who crosses them. Sykes mocked people who didn’t like that the Obama family dog wasn't from a rescue shelter:
"How come he didn’t get a rescue dog? He should have gotten a rescue dog." I’m like, the man has to rescue a country that’s been abused by its previous owner.
Sykes also went on an extended riff about how beautiful Michelle Obama is, much more beautiful than Barbara Bush:
On Friday’s The O’Reilly Factor on FNC, as host Bill O’Reilly and Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace discussed recent comedy directed at President Obama and the First Lady – including a re-dubbed clip of Sesame Street’s Big Bird grilling Michelle Obama from the Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien – Wallace opined that he hopes that there would be more such comedy and that the Obama’s should be treated by comedians like "regular public figures and not as something heaven sent."
He also lambasted the "idiocy" he saw on CNN as the Situation Room recently fact-checked a Saturday Night Live skit that took jabs at President Obama. Wallace: "I mean, here, the idiocy of CNN doing a fact check on Saturday Night Live's send up of Barack Obama, the fact is that is what comedians should do. They should make fun of the people in power."
Later in the show, O’Reilly brought aboard FNC’s Greg Gutfeld -- host of Redeye -- and Juliet Huddy to talk about the "dumbest things of the week," and Gutfeld presented his choice of the CNN fact-check, pointing out CNN’s double standard in its treatment of conservatives: "But they never did this when Will Ferrell went out and did Bush or when Tina Fey did Palin. They never analyzed when Republicans were parodied, but somehow when Barack Obama is parodied, they're shocked. They're incredulous. It's amazing to me."
On Sunday, ABC's George Will uttered an inconvenient truth about Barack Obama that his adoring media have been ignoring since he first threw his hat into the presidential ring in February 2007: his rhetoric is filled with constant references to himself.
To prove the point on the most recent installment of "This Week," Will counted the number of times Mr. and Mrs. Obama used the words "I" and "me" during their speeches in Copenhagen Friday.
The numbers are shocking making it likely in Will's view that the word "vain" is going to eventually attach itself to Obama (video embedded below the fold with transcript):
Those who read the New York Times's coverage of the unsuccessful results of Barack and Michelle Obama's attempt to seal the 2016 Summer Olympics bid for Chicago on Friday afternoon ('For Obama, an Unsuccessful Campaign") might want to read it again.
If it doesn't seem the same, it's because it isn't.
An excerpt of the item's first five paragraphs posted at FreeRepublic at 4:44 Eastern Time on October 2 shows that the article was apparently originally published under the same title with Peter Baker's byline sometime Friday afternoon.
There are even more substantive differences noticed by Weasel Zippers I will get to shortly, but the first five paragraphs alone were obviously worked over, while Jeff Zeleny's name was added to the byline.
After the jump, on the left you will see the original as excerpted at FreeRepublic; on the right are the first five paragraphs currently at the Times web site (saved here at my host for future reference; click here or on the graphic to view a larger side-by-side version in a separate window):
Say what you will about the Obama delegation to the Olympics bid in Denmark, Michelle Obama did not set foot in Europe without Robin Givhan of the Washington Post, frantically running in front of her with baskets of flower petals to scatter lavishly at her diva’s feet.
In the stench of defeat and embarrassment, Givhan on Saturday brought her overbearing pro-Obama spin to both Page One and the front of the Style section. The Style piece was gushier. It was headlined "First Lady's Olympian Effort Falls Short: But Her Impassioned Appeal Earns Plaudits." Let’s start at the story’s end, since its ooze is representative. Each finalist received a "diploma" of appreciation:
The certificate was approximately the size of a large traffic sign and came framed. The only word legible from a distance was "THANKS." President Obama accepted the diploma on behalf of Chicago2016.
The first lady could just as easily have received a gold star.
Urp. Givhan found Michelle outshined her husband and Oprah Winfrey, too:
On Friday, just hours before the International Olympic Committee rejected Barack Obama’s appeal for Chicago to be awarded the 2016 Olympic games, ABC’s Yunji de Nies swore that Michelle Obama and her husband thrilled the crowd. She enthused, "Their work here is done. They are on their way home. The presentation was everything they promised, emotional, heartfelt, energetic."
On Thursday, de Nies prognosticated this about Mrs. Obama’s address to IOC members in Copenhagen: "We're told there won't be a dry eye in the house by the time she's done." Now, video of the First Lady’s address mostly featured shots of Michelle Obama, but there didn’t appear to be any audible wailing and crying in the audience.
On Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez speculated on the impact of President Obama’s personal appeal for the 2016 Olympics to be held in Chicago: “President Obama arrives in Copenhagen, carrying the torch for Chicago as the best candidate for the 2016 summer Olympics...Will he bring home the gold?” When the announcement came, Chicago was immediately eliminated from contention.
In the report that followed, correspondent Sheila MacVicar declared: “For this Olympic bid, it’s all about celebrity star power and supporters of Chicago’s bid hope President Obama will be the biggest star of all.” An on-screen headline read: “Chicago Hope; Obama Makes Case For 2016 Olympics. ” MacVicar fawned over the first couple’s emotional appeal: “ For Michelle Obama, a very personal story about her own father, who struggled with multiple sclerosis...And from the President, a heartfelt pitch for his adopted hometown.”
MacVicar concluded her report: “And that if Chicago does take it in a very tight race, analysts here say they’ll be calling it the ‘Obama effect.’” Apparently that effect was overrated.