Following in lockstep with their morning counterparts, Monday’s CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News continued to prominently tout First Lady Michelle Obama’s commencement address at Tuskegee University from two days prior.
Hailing the speech as “candid reflections on life in the spotlight,” CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley gushed that Obama revealed “some remarkable insight” into what it’s been like to be the first African-American First Lady and that “it sounded a lot like a validictory.”
Correspondent Jan Crawford reported that: “The speech was deeply personal as Michelle Obama recounted criticism and pressure she felt as the nation's first African-American First Lady.”
Later, Crawford added that the First Lady told graduates how “she tuned out the critics by focusing on issues she cares about,” ranging from gardening to hula-hooping at the White House to, in the words of the CBS correspondent, “working to fight obesity and helping military families.”
Over on NBC Nightly News, the coverage appeared even giddier as interim anchor Lester Holt gushed over the course of two teases that Obama offered a “powerful message” and spoke “like we have rarely heard before” in that she was “[d]eeply candid about race and the private pain she’s endured.”
Introducing senior White House correspondent Chris Jansing’s segment, Holt explained that Obama’s commencement address has been “getting a lot of attention” and described it as “candid, personal, heartfelt, [and] even blunt on the issue of race.”
Jansing began with this fawning statement: “At historically black Tuskeegee University, Michelle Obama didn't hold back, speaking in deeply personal and passionate terms about the daily slights of being black in America.”
After two soundbites from Obama, Jansing decided to paint “Twitter users” with a rather broad brush, claiming that they “called the address ‘riveting’ and ‘amazing.’”
Jansing then turned to Georgetown University professor Paul Butler, who declared that “[t]he First Lady’s speech was historic” and expressed hope that President Barack Obama would speak more like the First Lady when it came to race.
While Obama gave the commencement address at the predominately African-American Morehouse College in 2011, Jansing brought up the point that it “was after Trayvon Martin but before the deaths of Eric Garner, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice and Freddie Gray forced a new and blunt conversation.”
With Obama’s speech in hand, Jansing closed by cheering it as “[a] challenge and a reality check for the class of 2015.”
After promoting the story on the Monday edition of ABC’s Good Morning America, ABC’s World News Tonight with David Muir moved on from the story and chose not to mention Obama’s address.
The relevant portions of the transcript from the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley on May 11 can be found below.
CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley
May 11, 2015
6:30 p.m. Eastern [TEASE]
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Candid Reflections]
SCOTT PELLEY: And the First Lady's candid reflections on life in the spotlight.
MICHELLE OBAMA: Cable news charmingly referred to me as “Obama's baby mama.”
6:52 p.m. Eastern [TEASE]
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: Opening Up]
PELLEY: What's it been like for the first African-American First Lady? Some remarkable insight from Michelle Obama next.
6:56 p.m. Eastern
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: Heartfelt Message]
PELLEY: As Michelle Obama gets closer to her end of her time as First Lady, she is becoming more reflective and candid about the experience. She delivered a commencement address at Tuskegee University over the weekend, and it sounded a lot like a validictory. Here's Jan Crawford.
MICHELLE OBAMA: I had a lot of sleepless nights worrying about what people thought of me.
JAN CRAWFORD: The speech was deeply personal as Michelle Obama recounted criticism and pressure she felt as the nation's first African-American First Lady.
OBAMA: I didn't start as the fully formed First Lady who stands before you today. No, no, I had my share of bumps along the way.
CRAWFORD: Obama said she tuned out the critics by focusing on issues she cares about.
OBAMA: So, yeah, I planted a garden, and hula-hooped on the White House lawn with kids. I did some mom dancing on TV.
CRAWFORD: Working to fight obesity and helping military families.
A partial transcript from May 11's NBC Nightly News is provided below.
NBC Nightly News
May 11, 2015
7:00 p.m. Eastern [TEASE]
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: Getting Personal]
LESTER HOLT: And getting personal. Michelle Obama like we have rarely heard her before. Deeply candid about race and the private pain she’s endured.
7:19 p.m Eastern [TEASE]
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: Coming Up]
HOLT: We are back in a moment with Michelle Obama's powerful message to graduates. The First Lady like we’ve never, or rarely heard her before.
7:22 p.m. Eastern
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: Getting Personal]
HOLT: This is graduation season which means commencement speeches and Michelle Obama gave one over the weekend that's getting a lot of attention. The First Lady's speech was candid, personal, heartfelt, even blunt on the issue of race. More tonight from our White House correspondent Chris Jansing.
MAN INTRODUCING MICHELLE OBAMA: Mrs. Michelle Obama.
CHRIS JANSING: At historically black Tuskeegee University, Michelle Obama didn't hold back, speaking in deeply personal and passionate terms about the daily slights of being black in America.
JANSING: Twitter users called the address “riveting” and “amazing.”
GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR PAUL BUTLER: The First Lady's speech was historic.
JANSING: Georgetown professor Paul Butler among those arguing the President could take a cue from his wife.
BUTLER: When the President talks about race, he loses some of his famous swagger, that self-confidence. And that's a shame because this is a moment where African-Americans especially need his leadership.
JANSING: In 2013, the president spoke at another black college about the motivation to break stereotypes.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA [on 05/20/13]: I might have been in prison. I might have been unemployed.
JANSING: That was after Trayvon Martin but before the deaths of Eric Garner, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice and Freddie Gray forced a new and blunt conversation.
DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSWOMAN KAREN BASS (Calif.): Talking about the inequities that still exist in our country can only strengthen America. It doesn't tear America down.
JANSING: A challenge and a reality check for the class of 2015.