On Friday’s CBS Early Show, White House correspondent Bill Plante highlighted President Obama’s latest media blitz on health care reform and touted a new piece of the PR arsenal: "The President does have a new partner in his nonstop effort to sell health care, it’s the First Lady....Michelle Obama will be more like a stealth weapon in the battle for health care, giving it a softer touch."
Plante further explained the logic behind using the First Lady to promote ObamaCare: "With a favorable rating of around 70%, well above her husband’s, and the background of a hospital executive, Michelle Obama will counter balance her husband’s hard sell." A clip was played of Politico’s Nia-Malika Henderson exclaiming: "They feel like she can give a different voice, because as you can see, a lot of the folks out there are very partisan." Unlike Michelle Obama’s completely non-partisan approach.
Correspondent Richard Quest made a frivolous attempt to tie the bad economy to men’s fashion on CNN’s Newsroom program on Tuesday. Quest proclaimed that pinstriped business suits are “old-fashioned...and out of touch with reality....because they are the pinstripe of bankers.” He continued that if you wore such attire, “you may be mistaken for one of those bankers reaping bonuses.”
Anchor Kyra Phillips introduced the CNN correspondent just before the bottom of the 1 pm Eastern hour, noting that “the global financial crisis has taken a toll everywhere, including men’s suits. That old business stand by, the pinstripe- well, it’s being hit especially hard.” Phillips turned to Quest, who immediately started joking around with his colleague. One might have guessed that Jeanne Moos, the network’s usual purveyor of light reports, was away on a late summer vacation, so they got the British correspondent to stand in for her.
Are you tired of all the focus on what Michelle Obama wears?
Well, the good folks at the "Today" show certainly aren't, for they spent a lot of time this week discussing whether or not the First Lady was dressed appropriately when she got off Air Force One Sunday on her way to the Grand Canyon.
As the nation grapples with such important issues as the ongoing recession and healthcare reform, NBC's morning show actually spent TWO DAYS days talking about Michelle's shorts.
In case you missed it, here are some of the gushing highlights (videos embedded below the fold with full transcripts):
NBC's Matt Lauer, on Wednesday's "Today" show, invited on conservative columnist and author Michelle Malkin to discuss several topics ranging from Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s arrest to Malkin's critique of Michelle Obama, but when the subject of only one Republican voting for Sonia Sotomayor in the Senate Judiciary committee came up, Lauer wondered if that would hurt the GOP with Hispanics as he queried: "After the, the last election it was said that the Republicans need to broaden the tent, they need to reach out to minorities. Reach out to Hispanics. Is that, are those six 'no' votes gonna hurt Republicans down the road?"
Lauer also expressed incredulity that Malkin dared to "take on," the First Lady as seen in the following exchange:
MATT LAUER: Let me ask you about your book. In it -- I mean clearly we know by the co-, we know by the title where it goes – you take on Michelle Obama-
MICHELLE MALKIN: I certainly do.
LAUER: -in this book. You call her the "First Crony."
The Washington Post’s Style section conducted a survey of who could fill the most-trusted void left behind by Walter Cronkite. A series of liberal-media heroes were named: Brian Williams, Bill Moyers, Jim Lehrer, Barbara Walters, Fareed Zakaria, Garrison Keillor, and Jon Stewart. But several people skipped the media stars and selected the Obamas. ABC Nightline correspondent Vicki Mabrey nominated Michelle as a Cronkite replacement: "Rosie the Riveter for our times in a designer gown. You just want to be her best friend forever."
Mabrey rarely covers politics, although she did report on Gov. Sarah Palin’s resignation on July 6, and suggested the governor’s speech was "just plain rambling." Before joining ABC in 2005, she worked for CBS for 13 years. Several media stars were nominated more than once:
Jon Stewart. "He's got no agenda. His agenda is to get to the bottom of everyone's [baloney]. " -- Seth Hurwitz, co-owner of 9:30 club.
She has become one of the Obama administration's most visible surrogates on health care, announcing the release of $851 million in federal financing for health clinics, calling for tougher nutritional standards in the government's school lunch program and urging Democrats to rally around the president's efforts to revamp health care.
The high-profile emissary? Not Kathleen Sebelius, the health and human services secretary, or Nancy-Ann DeParle, the White House health policy adviser. It is the first lady, Michelle Obama.
The way the Associated Press is fawning over Michelle Obama and her supposed sense of fashion, you would almost think they were talking about Carla Bruni who really does dress quite elegantly and oozes glamor. To add to this absurdity, the AP also went out of its way to paint the Russian First Lady as frumpy. Um, advice to AP personnel; don't expect the Russians to go out of their way to help you in your stories in that country after that gratuitous slam on the wife of their president. First let us watch the AP's Catrina Stewart act dazzled over the "superstar glamor" of Michelle Obama:
MOSCOW (AP) - Michelle Obama brings her superstar glamor to Moscow this weekend as she accompanies her husband on his summit with the Russian president.
But the American first lady, who has wowed publics in the U.S. and Europe with her easy elegance and charm, will perhaps face a bigger challenge in winning over a Russian public that has scant respect for women who grab the limelight from their powerful husbands.
Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz reported Thursday on black females on the Michelle Obama beat, and whether their shared race and gender produces gauzier coverage. "Indeed, most write with enthusiasm, in some cases even admiration, about the first lady as a long-awaited role model for black women." Kurtz found:
"Without a doubt, I identify with her as a brown-skinned African American woman," [Newsweek’s Allison] Samuels says. "Now we have Michelle and see her as a mother, a lawyer, a wife, and she's doing it fabulously." Samuels got to interview Obama during the campaign and "we had a girlfriend-to-girlfriend moment. We did connect."
Post writer Robin Givhan, one of the most syrupy writers on the Michelle beat, tried to suggest "news" wins out:
"We all bring the full depth of our experiences to the facts we emphasize, the questions we ask, the stories that get us excited," says Givhan, who was a year behind Obama at Princeton, although their paths did not cross. "But in the end, news is news."
USA Today’s Maria Puente has proven herself to be a eager member of the Michelle Obama Fawn Club. Wednesday’s Life section advertised again that the First Lady enjoyed a "meteoric rise as a fashion icon." This time, Puente celebrated new books oozing over Michelle. The story began:
A chic sheath dress in a bold color — that is the unmistakable Michelle Obama look, one she has made her own as first lady of the United States, according to two new books celebrating Obama's fashion sense.
Her image is everywhere you look these days: Last week, Obama was given a Board of Directors' Special Tribute Award by the Council of Fashion Designers of America, which noted her "meteoric rise as a fashion icon." Last month, she was in Paris, where she once again shone next to super-chic French first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy.
ABC's Robin Roberts conducted two fawning interviews with Michelle Obama on Tuesday and repeatedly reminded viewers that the First Lady would be tending to the White House garden as soon as the segment was completed. Roberts breathlessly explained, "I caught up with Michelle Obama for an exclusive interview as she was heading outside to work in the White House garden..."
In a second Good Morning America piece, Roberts reiterated, "Again, I talked to her right before she was about to tend to the White House Garden." After discussing healthy living and childhood obesity, the GMA co-host cheered, "And she was casually dressed because she was literally heading out to the garden there at the White House that she planted with kids from a local elementary school..."
The Washington Post’s Robin Givhan goes all gooey for Michelle Obama again at the top of the Style section on Friday, comparing the First Lady to Clair Huxtable, or as explained by the caption under their pictures: "As portrayed by Phylicia Rashad, Clair Huxtable was an accomplished yet down-to-earth figure. In Michelle Obama, the nation now has another symbol of success and style." Givhan writes with an admiration so dazzled that you worry she’s going to faint:
She serves as a symbol of middle-class progress, feminist achievement, affirmative-action success and individual style. And she has done all this on the world stage...while being black.
Time and again, observers grasp for adjectives to describe Obama's combination of professional accomplishment and soccer-mom maternalism. It's no wonder so many eye her with awe and disbelief. Or why a minority still view her with suspicion. There have been few broad cultural precedents for what she represents.
The CBS Early Show continued its usual fawning over Michelle Obama as co-host Harry Smith declared: "They couldn't come from more diverse backgrounds. One grew up in Chicago. The other grew up with a silver spoon...this new royal odd couple, the First Lady and the Queen."
Correspondent Sheila MacVicar reported on the First Lady’s relationship with the Queen: "It’s a friendship that began in April with this encounter between Britain’s Queen Elizabeth and Mrs. Obama. A meeting so congenial that at a later reception, as they apparently compared their shoes, the two embraced. That meeting ended with a request from Her Majesty that the First Lady keep in touch. And apparently she has, by letter and phone."
MacVicar went on to describe Michelle Obama’s latest visit with the Queen while in Europe last week: "They spent three hours in the palace and its gardens, including the Queen's new vegetable patch. That's one interest both share. And that is forging a new friendship, helping to keep the trans-Atlantic relationship very warm indeed. In fact, a source with excellent royal connections tells CBS News that the Queen has told members of her family that she adores Michelle Obama and that she hopes she gets to see her again soon."
On Wednesday, the Early Show continued its obsession with the Obamas’ recent date nights as co-host Julie Chen exclaimed: "If Barack and Michelle Obama can find time for each other, why can’t you? We’re going to hear why it is a good idea to follow the President’s lead."
Earlier, co-host Maggie Rodriguez similarly declared: "We want to encourage everybody in America to bring back, or start, date night. Because if the Obamas can do it, so can we." Correspondent Hattie Kauffman later reported: "It took a couple of helicopters, a private jet, and a limo, but President Obama recently took the First Lady to dinner and a show in New York. Over the weekend, a rendevous in Paris. They may be the busiest couple in America, but the Obamas still manage to pull off date night."
Kauffman got reaction from one married couple: "The Larsens have been married 50 years and they still go out on dates. They say the Obamas are setting a good example." However, Kauffman did have some criticism: "Sure the Obamas will always have Paris, but have they set the bar too high?" Kauffman concluded her report by declaring: "Air Force One may not be available for your weekend retreat, but it's the time spent together that's priceless."
On Monday, correspondent Richard Roth gave a glowing report on President and Michelle Obama in Paris: "The big tourist treat in Paris this weekend was for the tourists treated to a sight of the Obamas driving by. For the President and First Lady, the treat may have been a European reprise of their date night in New York a week ago."
Reporting for the Early Show, Roth also emphasized the idea that no one in Paris was "inconvenienced" by the Obamas’ visit: "Other tourists at the Eiffel Tower Friday night were surprised when the First Lady and the Obama girls turned up, but not much inconvenienced...And no whining, at least certainly not in public, though what's to complain about when the Pompidou Center’s been opened, especially for a presidential family viewing of modern art and the day's capped with a bit of shopping at a Left Bank children's boutique."
Following Roth’s report, fill-in co-host Debbye Turner Bell showed how impressed she was with the President’s romantic getaway, remarking: "My husband’s got a lot of explaining to do." Co-host Russ Mitchell jokingly added: "If you’re a guy and your name is not Barack Obama, this is not good news. There’s nothing good about this." Bell agreed: "The bar has been raised." Later, weatherman Dave Price concluded: "No, you know what? I think it's great. I said it before. You know, whether it would be President Bush or another president, I think it's great. You know, you try and have some semblance of a – of a relationship or a family life."
The good folks at National Review are absolutely skewering Newsweek's disgraceful Obama fixation with a delicious parody of the magazine including "New, improved, andlonger articles extolling the First Family!" (h/t Hot Air, larger picture below the fold):
This isn’t your father’s business and financial weekly.
Looking for ten successful companies? Then look no further than the main story of the June 1 edition of “Barron’s.” With Michelle Obama splashed on the front cover, “Barron’s” created the “The Michelle Index,” a list of ten companies that “offer superior value.” The list is named in honor of Obama, “whose championing of brands that offer good value reflects a nationwide trend.”
It should come as no surprise that a business publication would display business sense get it’s share of the Michelle Obama love-fest. From the time her husband took office in January to March 10, she appeared on seven magazine covers, and there have been more since then. This was the same person, after all, who became the first person to share a cover on Oprah Winfrey’s magazine, “O”.
On Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Julie Chen mentioned President Obama taking the First Lady on a date night to New York City over the weekend: "The President and First Lady had a long-planned night out in New York City on Saturday, doing dinner and Greenwich Village and taking in the Broadway show, ‘Joe Turner's Come and Gone’" Co-host Maggie Rodriguez commented on the restaurant the first couple went to: "Blue Hill, down in Greenwich Village. It’s a wonderful restaurant." Co-host Harry Smith added: "Probably impossible to get a reservation now, right?"
Later, Rodriguez explained the "long-planned" excursion: "...this is something that he [Obama] promised her, apparently, when he was on the campaign, ‘I'm going to take you out on a date night in New York City.’" Guest co-host Amanda Holden, judge of the talent show ‘Britain’s Got Talent,’ remarked: "Oh, that’s so sweet." Rodriguez agreed: "I know, it is sweet." Holden went on: " They’re such a good looking couple, aren’t they? Fantastic." Rodriguez again agreed: "They’re beautiful."
Chris Matthews, on Monday's "Hardball," was outraged at the RNC's criticism of the Obamas wasting taxpayer money to go see a Broadway play as he railed that it was a "jealous, pathetic swipe at the First Couple," and remarked "What a jealous, little political party the Republicans have become." Matthews also took a shot at former President George W. Bush as he contrasted Obama's tastes with Bush's as he claimed the problem he and others had with Bush was his, "Utter disdain for any kind of thought or culture. His total lack of curiosity toward anything beyond his own backyard." Matthews then questioned if the GOP attack was made out of "jealousy or simple nincompoop anti-intellectualism?"
MATTHEWS: Well let's get this straight. President Bush's jaunts to Crawford, Texas were okay by their lights, but President Obama's day trips to New York are cause for outrage? This is the kind of pissant criticism that makes you wonder why Michael Steele still has his job. Is this jealousy or simple nincompoop anti-intellectualism? Whatever it is I like having a president who takes his wife up to Broadway. [audio available here]
The following are all of Matthews' teasers and then his anti-RNC rant as it occurred during the "Sideshow," segment of his June 1, edition of "Hardball":
To a man with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. To a community organizer, every citizen looks like a victim entitled to someone else's money.
The Obama campaign and administration has proved that again and again. But both the president and his wife put a fine point on it with commencement addresses this month. (Joe Biden also gave one, but it's a safe bet that nobody - Joe least of all - knew what he was talking about.) To the Obamas, grads should opt for the virtue of what Michelle has called "helping" careers, and eschew the vice and corruption of the private sector.
NBC's Matt Lauer and Al Roker, on Tuesday's "Today" show, revealed they enjoyed a "nice" evening at the theater last night, in the presence of Michelle Obama, as she "dazzled New York City for a second time," when she visited the Metropolitan Opera House. After an Amy Robach piece that celebrated Mrs. Obama's return to the Big Apple, Roker and Lauer bragged that they too were in attendance at the American Ballet Theater Spring Gala, along with the First Lady, as Roker gushed: "It was fantastic!"
For her part Robach joined in the Obama family myth-making as she cheered, "Everyone takes notice when the First Lady is out on the town here in the Big Apple and Monday was no exception." Robach, in her piece, even included several soundbites from a delighted New York Times' Jodi Kantor who enthused: "You look at the kind of parties that the Met hosts and if you look at the top ballet galas in New York they always have big celebrities there, but Mrs. Obama is a different order of magnitude."
... Mrs. Obama's "Mom-in-Chief" image was created more by Obama image-makers David Axelrod et. al. to soften her into a first lady Americans could love. I think it is a sad state of affairs that Americans are more comfortable with a non-threatening first lady than with a career woman, but it is also a stereotype that screams to be abolished. Michelle Obama is just the person who could have done it, but she decided against it. Instead, she caved into advisors' demands.
The truth is, until that stereotype becomes history, all women will suffer less power and clout in the workplace.
The Washington Post found a very liberal way to celebrate Mother's Day. In the Outlook section, Sally Quinn wrote an entire essay offering her deep appreciation for the First Lady's arms. Will the flattery never cease?
Michelle Obama's arms, we determined, were transformational. Her arms are representative of a new kind of woman: young, strong, vigorous, intelligent, accomplished, sexual, powerful, embracing and, most of all, loving.
Today is Mother's Day. Today we should celebrate Michelle Obama's arms as the arms of a mother.
....She has come under attack for exposing her arms. They are toned and muscular, burnished and beautiful. That has to be threatening to some. For some men, often, a strong woman makes them feel diminished. For some feminists, the idea of an educated woman not taking on a full-time serious job is a frightening throwback.
Chris Matthews just can't get it up. The Democratic Party label that is.
On the May 8 "Hardball", the MSNBC anchor noted in his Political Sideshow segment that Reps. Jim Moran (Va.) and Bob Brady (Pa.), are up in arms about erectile dysfunction drug ads running on television and are sponsoring legislation before the House to ban television stations from running ads for drugs like Viagra and Cialis from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. The Democratic congressmen argue the ads are indecent for children. [get audio for download here]
While the legislation's premise seems prudish at worst and laughably silly at best, Matthews insisted that the congressmen, who are "regular guys" and "both friends of mine" were simply "looking out for the kids." All the same, he failed to give the Democratic Party credit for threatening the cold shower of government regulation on the drug commercials.
One test question for Time readers and subscribers who slogged through the whole Time 100 (the most influential earthings): which profile is the sugariest? There's a real contest between Michelle Obama (by Oprah Winfrey) and Oprah Winfrey (by Diane Sawyer). First, there's the huge picture of Mrs. Obama at the top of the Heroes & Icons section, and complete adoration from Oprah:
Michelle Obama doesn't just inspire us. She affirms us with her intelligence, authenticity, depth and compassion. We see the best of ourselves in her and marvel that no matter what she's doing, she brings 100% of herself to the experience.
The Drudge Report has the latest candidate for the Omission Watch, especially considering how much the networks have displayed their white-hot love for Michelle Obama. The First Lady had the political cluelessness to wear $540 sneakers out on a mission to help the poor! From the New York Daily News:
While volunteering Wednesday at a D.C. food bank, the First Lady sported her usual J. Crew cardigan, a pair of utilitarian capri pants and, on her feet, a sneaky splurge: trainers that go for $540.
That's right: These sneakers -- suede, with grosgrain ribbon laces and metallic pink toe caps - are made by French design house Lanvin, one of fashion's hottest labels....
It's likely Michelle got hers through Ikram, the Chicago retailer that often outfits her.
"They're shoes," the First Lady's reps sniffed when curious reporters inquired about the fancy footwear.
ABC reporter Yunji de Nies filed a gushing profile piece on Tuesday's "Nightline" for the first 100 days of Michelle Obama, showering praise on the President's wife. De Nies rhapsodized, “From her inaugural debut, Michelle Obama has been the belle of the ball.” Playing a clip of Mrs. Obama unveiling a statue for abolitionist Sojourner Truth, the ABC journalist described the First Lady as “perhaps the most powerful woman of the moment.” (If that's so, shouldn't reporters such as de Nies try to be slightly less fawning in their coverage?)
De Nies used the type of descriptions that have become typical from reporters who discuss the Obamas. She informed, “Her European tour solidified her rock star status," then added, “She held her own in a fashion face-off with model turned singer turned First Lady of France, Carla Bruni Sarkozy.”
CNN’s resident curmudgeon Jack Cafferty blamed Republican losses in the 2008 election, in part, on their use of the “socialist” label against Democrats during his regular commentary on Friday’s Situation Room. After reporting on a “conservative faction of the Republican National Committee” wanting to use this label against their opponents, and how they petitioned RNC Chairman Michael Steele to consider a resolution about it, he continued by labeling this faction “hardliners.”
Before reading some of the viewer responses to his commentary, he returned to gushing over Michelle Obama, suggesting that she might be president in the future. Cafferty also told one apparently conservative respondent who used the fascist and communist labels to “lighten up.”
The commentator made his regular “Cafferty File” commentary seven minutes into the 5 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program. He began immediately with his swipe at Republicans: “Wolf, it seems like some Republicans still have not figured out that they lost big-time last November, in part, because the American people are sick and tired of their style of politics. Exhibit A: a conservative faction of the Republican National Committee wants the party to brand Democrats as socialists.”
News editors need to retake Journalism 101 or move to features when stories about the White House dog take precedence over a controversial veto by the President's unconfirmed appointment to Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius vetoed a bill, House Substitute for SB 218, April 23 which would have placed additional restrictions on third trimester abortions and allowed more criminal charges over late-term procedures to occur.
With the exception of "Special Report with Bret Baier" that night and "Fox and Friends" the morning of April 24, the broadcast media avoided covering the controversial decision. But "Today," "The Early Show," and "Good Morning America" all had time to cover Michelle Obama talking about the first family's new dog Bo the morning of April 24.
CNN correspondent Alina Cho went out of her way to highlight First Lady Michelle Obama’s “meteoric rise to style icon status” and how it has inspired the fashion industry during a report on Thursday’s American Morning. After detailing how a dress Mrs. Obama wore on the cover of Essence magazine ended up selling well, she commented that “the bottom line is designers are looking at Michelle as a muse now.” Cho also detailed how the apparent Obama-inspired fashion craze has expanded to cosmetics and fitness classes.
Co-anchor Kiran Chetry introduced Cho’s report, which began 17 minutes into the 6 am hour of the CNN program, by trumpeting how “nearly a 100 days into her role as first lady, it’s become clear that she’s really a one-woman stimulus package for the fashion industry.” The CNN correspondent continued with similar lofty language: “Michelle Obama’s meteoric rise to style icon status has surprised even those in the fashion industry. For months, we’ve been watching everything she wears, and in many cases, we’re going out and buying it. So designers are sitting up and taking note. They’re thinking it’s time to cash in.”