Appearance Alert
MRC's Bozell to appear on Fox News' 'The Kelly File' at 9:40pm ET

USA Today Defines Sycophantic Media in Front Page Homage to Obamas

"President Obama may not have delivered on all the policy changes he promised since his election a year ago, but he and his family have brought dramatic social change to the nation's capital and to the country's collective image of its first family," USA Today's Mimi Hall and Maria Puente gushed in a front page story on Tuesday marking a year since President Obama's election, "With cultural 'flair,' Obamas updating first family's image." The two reporters began by describing Barack and Michelle Obama as just like any other hip couple:

He carries a smartphone on his hip, goes out for burgers and plays pickup hoops. She goes to their daughters' soccer games, works in the garden and loves listening to her iPod. Together, they host poets, artists and musicians at their house and invite neighborhood kids to drop by.

The journalistic duo soon featured this glowing assessment: "'The Obamas' White House is the most open for cultural and intellectual activities since the Kennedy administration,' says Douglas Brinkley, author and presidential historian at Rice University in Houston. 'It's not simply a matter of doing events of statecraft and cultural gravitas. They have a great flair for American pop culture.'"

Hall and Puente then raved: "That the Obamas are a couple in step with the world around them is evident almost daily..." Their evidence came in sycophantic looks at the Obamas, under four headings: "Gadgets and technology," "Physical fitness," "Family matters" and "A return to socializing."

An excerpt from the article on the front page of the Tuesday, November 3 USA Today:

WASHINGTON - He carries a smartphone on his hip, goes out for burgers and plays pickup hoops. She goes to their daughters' soccer games, works in the garden and loves listening to her iPod. Together, they host poets, artists and musicians at their house and invite neighborhood kids to drop by.

Their kids, meanwhile, go to birthday parties, romp around with their new dog and get spoiled by Grandma.

Sounds like a lot of families - but this is the nation's first family.

"The Obamas have changed the culture of the White House," says Dee Dee Myers, President Clinton's first press secretary.

President Obama may not have delivered on all the policy changes he promised since his election a year ago, but he and his family have brought dramatic social change to the nation's capital and to the country's collective image of its first family....

"The Obamas' White House is the most open for cultural and intellectual activities since the Kennedy administration," says Douglas Brinkley, author and presidential historian at Rice University in Houston. "It's not simply a matter of doing events of statecraft and cultural gravitas. They have a great flair for American pop culture."

That the Obamas are a couple in step with the world around them is evident almost daily, whether the first lady - a term that seems particularly archaic for a 45-year-old mom and Ivy League-educated lawyer - is touting the benefits of organic food or the 48-year-old president is admitting on TV that he hasn't done a good enough job handling his share of the child-care duties....

Gadgets and technology

Following on the most tech-savvy campaign in history, the White House has a blog, a Twitter feed, a Facebook page and Flickr photostream, and it livestreams the president's appearances.

The Obamas also are personally connected. On NBC's Jay Leno Show, Michelle Obama told the host last month, "I love my iPod."...

Physical fitness

Obama is hardly the first president to try to stay fit. Ronald Reagan rode horses, George W. Bush went mountain biking and Bill Clinton, in a perennial battle with his weight, jogged.

But the Obamas may be the first first couple to work out together and make fitness a focus of their message and politicking....

Family matters

"The big change is that kids are back in the White House," says Doug Wead, a staffer in George H.W. Bush's White House and author of All the President's Children.

Not since a roller-skating Amy Carter left marks on the East Room floor in the 1970s has the public been treated to stories of young children in the East and West wings....

A return to socializing

Almost as soon as they moved into the White House, the Obamas began entertaining.

They've invited local schoolchildren in for performances, hosted a poetry slam and put on a varied set of musical performances. The Mexican-American rock band Los Lobos played on the South Lawn; Motown legend Stevie Wonder played the East Room. Others who've performed at the White House in the past nine months: the rock band The Foo Fighters, jazz pianist Diana Krall and pop star Fergie.

"The Reagan White House had a great flair for black-tie events," Brinkley says. "They brought old-style elegance back to the White House, but the entertainment was usually of a dated variety."

Myers says the music represents a big change even from the more recent Bush years....

- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center