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Michelle 'Mega-Star' Obama; Press Corps 'Begged' to Query Obama --4/3/2009


1. Michelle 'Mega-Star' Obama; Press Corps 'Begged' to Query Obama
The broadcast networks continued their infatuation Thursday night with Michelle Obama as ABC anchor Charles Gibson teased: "Center stage. With substance and style, the First Lady steps onto the world stage, becoming something of a mega-star." He soon equated her popularity with Jacqueline Kennedy, the last First Lady to so enchant the press. On NBC, Dawna Friesen trumpeted how "she has dazzled Britain with her style and her substance. From the palace to the streets, she has taken London town." Highlighting the First Lady's appearance before a largely-minority group of school girls, Friesen hailed: "To such a diversity of girls from such an inspirational woman, the message couldn't have been more powerful." Also of note: CBS reporter Chip Reid, over video of many raised hands from journalists trying to catch Obama's attention, pointed out how excited Obama made the press corps during his news conference: "The President continued his charm offensive with the nearly two thousand members of the international press corps who literally begged to ask questions."

2. NBC's Today Can't Get Enough of 'Michelle's Magic' in the UK
NBC's Dawna Friesen, reporting from London on Thursday's Today show, relayed how "Michelle's Magic" has "dazzled everyone" in the United Kingdom and co-anchor Matt Lauer joined in, as he loved the tacky gift of an iPod to the Queen: "I like this idea. I think it's a, it's a very creative idea to bring her the iPod." Friesen also played down Michelle Obama's gaffe of contact with the Queen: "There was no curtsy, but plenty of easy charm, and it seems Mrs. Obama made another new friend, never mind that royal protocol forbids touching the Queen." This despite the fact that just yesterday, her colleague Keith Miller made a big deal out of past presidential gaffes with the Queen like when George W. Bush winked at Her Royal Highness.

3. CBS Expert: 'Responsibility of Being a Savior' Obama's Burden
Thursday's CBS Early Show offered non-stop gushing over Barack and Michelle Obama in Britain as co-host Julie Chen spoke with royal watcher Ingrid Seward: "Well, what is the buzz so far about Michelle Obama, and is she overshadowing her husband's presence over there?" Seward replied: "No, she's not overshadowing her husband. I think we all find him very charismatic, very handsome, and almost with the responsibility of being a savior on his shoulders...And people are excited to see him, very excited to see him." Chen added: "As they should be."

4. On MSNBC, O'Donnell & VandeHei Hail Barack Obama the 'Rock Star'
At the top of the 3:00PM EDT hour Thursday of live coverage on MSNBC, anchor Norah O'Donnell and Politico executive editor Jim VandeHei were practically tripping over themselves declaring Barack Obama the "rock star" of Europe in the wake of the G-20 summit. O'Donnell began by asking: "Can we gauge this meeting as a success?" VandeHei replied: "I think early indications are it probably was a big success...I think they'll hail that as a big success. I think the fact that he's just been greeted like such a hero overseas...and I think that that press conference will probably get a pretty good reception." O'Donnell agreed: "You're right, it was sort of like rock star treatment...I mean, you could even see it from some of the international press there at that press conference that we just watched for the past hour...Of course, there was the Obama-mania out there..."


Michelle 'Mega-Star' Obama; Press Corps
'Begged' to Query Obama

The broadcast networks continued their infatuation Thursday night with Michelle Obama as ABC anchor Charles Gibson teased: "Center stage. With substance and style, the First Lady steps onto the world stage, becoming something of a mega-star." He soon equated her popularity with Jacqueline Kennedy, the last First Lady to so enchant the press. On NBC, Dawna Friesen trumpeted how "she has dazzled Britain with her style and her substance. From the palace to the streets, she has taken London town." Highlighting the First Lady's appearance before a largely-minority group of school girls, Friesen hailed: "To such a diversity of girls from such an inspirational woman, the message couldn't have been more powerful."

Two noteworthy quotes from the CBS Evening News:

- In a wrap-up piece on the G-20 summit, anchor Katie Couric decided it was worthwhile to stress: "The people of London treated the Obamas like rock stars, the kind of reception an American President has not received in some time."

- CBS reporter Chip Reid, over video of many raised hands from journalists trying to catch Obama's attention, pointed out how excited Obama made the press corps during his news conference: "The President continued his charm offensive with the nearly two thousand members of the international press corps who literally begged to ask questions."

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Thursday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org]

On Wednesday night, as recounted in my earlier NewsBusters post, NBC's Chuck Todd touted "America's unofficial royalty, the President and First Lady," while Williams related: "There is no denying the Obamas from America are receiving a rock star reception on this trip. One London paper today called them 'American royalty.'" The CBS Evening News put "Michelle Mania" on screen and Couric teased: "The British give America's First Lady a welcome fit for a Queen." More: www.mediaresearch.org

Gibson set up the laudatory story about Michelle Obama aired on Thursday's World News: "Well, the headlines from here are all about world leaders and economics. But the buzz, that's been about Michelle Obama. John Kennedy, on a trip to France once said, 'perhaps I should introduce myself. I'm the man who's accompanied Jacqueline Kennedy to Paris.' That's the impression she made then. The impression made by Michelle Obama now has been similar."

On the Thursday, April 2 NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams set up his network's fawning piece: "First Lady Michelle Obama has become a traveling event here in London. And there was evidence today proving why. In a new poll this week, her approval rating is right now higher than her husband's. Mrs. Obama visited a local school in London and positively overwhelmed her audience."

Some of Dawna Friesen's report:

FRIESEN: She has dazzled Britain with her style and her substance. From the palace to the streets, she has taken London town....
It was a speech from the heart. Mrs. Obama telling them they could all be just like her.
MICHELLE OBAMA, TO SCHOOL GIRLS: We need strong, smart, confident young women to stand up and take the reins. I want you to know that we have very much in common. For nothing in my life's path would have predicted that I'd be standing here as the first African-American First Lady of the United States of America. I wasn't raised with wealth or resources or any social standing to speak of.
FRIESEN: To such a diversity of girls from such an inspirational woman, the message couldn't have been more powerful.
MICHELLE OBAMA: You too can control your own destiny. Please remember that. If you want to know the reason why I'm standing here, it's because of education.

NBC's Today Can't Get Enough of 'Michelle's
Magic' in the UK

NBC's Dawna Friesen, reporting from London on Thursday's Today show, relayed how "Michelle's Magic" has "dazzled everyone" in the United Kingdom and co-anchor Matt Lauer joined in, as he loved the tacky gift of an iPod to the Queen: "I like this idea. I think it's a, it's a very creative idea to bring her the iPod." Friesen also played down Michelle Obama's gaffe of contact with the Queen: "There was no curtsy, but plenty of easy charm, and it seems Mrs. Obama made another new friend, never mind that royal protocol forbids touching the Queen." This despite the fact that just yesterday, her colleague Keith Miller made a big deal out of past presidential gaffes with the Queen like when George W. Bush winked at Her Royal Highness.

[This item, by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Thursday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The following is a complete transcript of the full segment as it was aired on the April 2 Today show:

MATT LAUER: Now back to London and Great Britain's obsession with First Lady Michelle Obama. NBC's Dawna Friesen is at Buckingham Palace, where people are still buzzing over her visit with the Queen. Not yours, Dawna, but Michelle Obama's. Good morning.

[On screen headline: "American Royalty, England Falls For The First Lady"]

DAWNA FRIESEN: Good morning, Matt. Yes, they're calling it, "Michelle's Magic." Not only has she dazzled everyone with her style here, she seems to have made a new friend at the Palace. In the style stakes, there is no question Michelle Obama is both bold and down to Earth. She brought a suitcase full of American clothes on her first overseas trip as First Lady, this morning appearing at a performance at London's Royal Opera House. Wednesday, shimmering in J. Crew in the morning-

EVE POLLARD, BROADCASTER: When I saw her in the cardigan and secrete skirt, I thought very Jackie Kennedy. But of course, Michelle is so much more than Jackie O. Because there's a great brain. She does a lot of things which I don't think we would have seen Jackie O doing.

FRIESEN: -and for afternoon tea with the Queen, black and white Isabelle Toledo and pearls for a photo that's already dominating the front pages.

POLLARD: I think that photograph will be iconic. I think we will see the black and white outfit of Michelle Obama and the pink dress of the Queen's. These are the two most famous couples in the world.

FRIESEN: There was no curtsy, but plenty of easy charm, and it seems Mrs. Obama made another new friend, never mind that royal protocol forbids touching the Queen. "Now that we've met," the Queen told Mrs. Obama, "let's stay in touch."
INGRID SEWARD, MAJESTY MAGAZINE: From what I saw from the body language, it looked incredibly relaxed for royal standards.
FRIESEN: By evening, she had shed the cardigan, and with a reception reserved for rock stars, headed for a dinner with the so-called First Wives Club - the spouses of the G20 leaders. And though she's showcasing American designers, some Europeans live in hope, one day she'll give them a chance.
LOUIS MARIETTE, CELEBRITY MILLINER: All of us would like to give her that little European touch, the finishing touch.
FRIESEN: Not entirely sure she really needs any help. As one fashion writer here said, "Michelle is a vision." Meredith, Matt?
VIEIRA: Yeah, I don't think she needs help from him, necessarily.
LAUER: That was a quite look though, wasn't it?
VIEIRA: Thanks Donna.
LAUER: I like this idea. I think it's a, it's a very creative idea to bring her the iPod.
VIEIRA: To give the iPod? Yeah?
LAUER: With the video and the music on it. Apparently a lot of the videos on it, from various trips the Queen has made-
VIEIRA: Right, interesting.
LAUER: -to the United States to way back to 1957 and music that would apparently really kind of get her toe-tapping.
VIEIRA: And all these Broadway-, get her toe-tapping?!
LAUER: Toes, I meant to say.
VIEIRA: Oh toes. Yeah she'd probably rock out. Well there are great songs on this. All these great Broadway shows, you know? "Party's Over," that's not one you really want to hear but-
LAUER: "Some Enchanted Evening." One, "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend."
VIEIRA: That's gotta appeal to her, huh?
LAUER: There ya go, yeah.
VIEIRA: "The Impossible Dream." Some said Obama getting elected was an "impossible dream," he made it.
LAUER: Yeah.
VIEIRA: "Mame."
LAUER: "All That Jazz," "Tomorrow," "Don't Cry For Me Argentina."
VIEIRA: Yeah, yeah. Argentina, yeah.
LAUER: Any ways we hope she, can you see her now? She'd have the headset on?
VIEIRA: Tapping her toes like Matt said. I heard she already had an iPod, which was interesting.
LAUER: Really?
VIEIRA: So this is a second.

To read Keith Miller's previous report that talked about past presidential gaffes with the Queen of England: www.mrc.org

CBS Expert: 'Responsibility of Being
a Savior' Obama's Burden

Thursday's CBS Early Show offered non-stop gushing over Barack and Michelle Obama in Britain as co-host Julie Chen spoke with royal watcher Ingrid Seward: "Well, what is the buzz so far about Michelle Obama, and is she overshadowing her husband's presence over there?" Seward replied: "No, she's not overshadowing her husband. I think we all find him very charismatic, very handsome, and almost with the responsibility of being a savior on his shoulders...And people are excited to see him, very excited to see him." Chen added: "As they should be."

Later, Chen asked about the Obamas' gift to Queen Elizabeth, an iPod loaded with show tunes: "Now, what are people saying about the First Lady and President Obama's gift of an ipod to the Queen?" Seward declared: "Actually, an iPod is a perfect gift for the Queen because in the cellars of Buckingham Palace, she has so many unwanted gifts, sort of trophies and unattractive pieces of jewelry. I mean, she couldn't be more thrilled with something useful like an iPod."

[This item, by the MRC's Kyle Drennen, was posted Thursday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Prior to Chen's fawning, correspondent Bill Plante reported on Michelle Obama's breech of protocol when meeting the Queen: "There were gasps in some quarters at the sight of Michelle Obama's hand on the Queen. Protocol says you don't touch the Queen...the normally reserved monarch was not so reserved in her first meeting with Michelle Obama. The pictures tell the story. Beyond the usual protocol, there was warmth as First Lady Michelle Obama and the Queen got to know each other during their meeting at Buckingham Palace. So much so, that the British press is reporting that the Queen told the First Lady, 'now that we've met, we must keep in touch.'"

Plante went to describe how the First Lady seemed to impress everyone she met: "The good feeling was equally evident at a dinner for the spouses and some celebrity guests at the Prime Minister's residence. The First Lady sat next to Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling and Olympic gold medalist Kelly Holmes." A clip was played of Holmes: "She's a beautiful lady, but really warm, open, and honest. I remember when we were sitting at that dinner, you know, we had great conversation." Plante observed: "And that feeling about Michelle Obama is echoed on the streets of London." An unidentified female London resident declared: "I don't know, I love her, though, I don't know her, but she's lovely and I'm just so proud."

At the top of the show, co-host Harry Smith spoke with Evening News anchor Katie Couric about the Obamas wowing the royal family: "...here's the more important question. The President and Michelle Obama with the Queen yesterday." Couric exclaimed: "Despite a head cold, the President was very energetic and relaxed. He presented the Queen with a video ipod, something she actually requested, loaded with classic show tunes like '€˜My Fair Lady' and '€˜Camelot'...when Mrs. Obama, as you mentioned earlier, placed her arm around Queen Elizabeth, who responded in kind. Now, touching, I guess, initiating touching's a no-no, but Her Majesty seemed to welcome Mrs. Obama's overture. So people here are just eating it up."

Following that segment with Couric, co-host Maggie Rodriguez discussed the visit with White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs: "I want to ask you about the ipod that the President gave the Queen, loaded with Broadway tunes. How did that go over?" Unsurprisingly, Gibbs remarked: "I think it went over well. He was excited to give it to her. We've been talking about it for a few days. And hopefully she will enjoy it. I know he had a great time meeting her."

On MSNBC, O'Donnell & VandeHei Hail Barack
Obama the 'Rock Star'

At the top of the 3:00PM EDT hour Thursday of live coverage on MSNBC, anchor Norah O'Donnell and Politico executive editor Jim VandeHei were practically tripping over themselves declaring Barack Obama the "rock star" of Europe in the wake of the G-20 summit. O'Donnell began by asking: "Can we gauge this meeting as a success?" VandeHei replied: "I think early indications are it probably was a big success...I think they'll hail that as a big success. I think the fact that he's just been greeted like such a hero overseas...and I think that that press conference will probably get a pretty good reception." O'Donnell agreed: "You're right, it was sort of like rock star treatment...I mean, you could even see it from some of the international press there at that press conference that we just watched for the past hour...Of course, there was the Obama-mania out there..."

Later, O'Donnell contrasted Obama with Bush: "...there's also a turning point in terms of a break with this administration and the last administration. And Bush foreign policy. The President, today, talked about the old ways of Washington...How much of this was a clean break with the Bush Administration and that type of foreign policy?" VandeHei then won the contest over who could praise Obama more: "Oh, I think that the campaign through now, it's all been a clean break...Norah, as you well know, Obama could have gone and sat in his hotel room and listened to his iPod and he still would have been greeted with more cheer in Europe than President Bush would. So that's not a hard hurdle to clear. Because Bush was so unpopular overseas and Obama is a rock star overseas, in some places even more so than here. So that part was an easy slam dunk for him."

[This item, by the MRC's Kyle Drennen, was posted Thursday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Here is the full transcript of the April 2 segment:

NORAH O'DONNELL: Joining me now is Jim VandeHei, executive editor for Politico. And Jim, there were low expectations, perhaps that the White House put out, going into this summit. Today, the President hailed it as 'historic, unprecedented,' and of course, they're talking about a 'superpump into the world economy' of more than a trillion dollars. Can we gauge this meeting as a success?
JIM VANDEHEI: I think early indications are it probably was a big success. I think it'll take time to figure out if these measures were enough. You know, a lot of folks in the Obama administration really would have liked to have seen all the countries commit to more short term stimulus. I think that would have a huge effect on getting the worldwide economy rolling again. But there was agreements to at least up the amount of money that flows through the IMF and through the World Bank to help out other countries that are struggling. There was a very strong statement in favor of free trade and against protectionism, which he thinks can help companies here like caterpillar, that do a lot of exporting and those companies that are struggling, especially smaller companies in the United States. So I think they'll hail that as a big success. I think the fact that he's just been greeted like such a hero overseas-
O'DONNELL: Yeah.
VANDEHEI: -and I think that that press conference will probably get a pretty good reception around the world.
O'DONNELL: You're right, it was sort of like rock star treatment.
VANDEHEI: Right.
O'DONNELL: I mean, you could even see it from some of the international press there at that press conference that we just watched for the past hour.
VANDEHEI: Right.
O'DONNELL: Of course, there was the Obama-mania out there and there was also the drama, because we had this indication that the French President, of course, Sarkozy was going to walk out, it was tense inside the summit and of course there were these early reports, not only about the resistence from the French, but the Germans.
VANDEHEI: Germans, right.
O'DONNELL: But Obama said today that in the end, they all came together, let's listen to what he said about that.
VANDEHEI: Good.
BARACK OBAMA: It's hard for 20 heads of states to bridge their differences. We've all got our own national policies, we all have our own assumptions, our own political cultures. But our citizens are all hurting. They all need us to come together.
O'DONNELL: How much of this was Obama's star power bringing people together, or was this long-planned, essentially, by the Sherpas, that they were going to have some sort of big agreement like this? They had to?
VANDEHEI: Well, you can't get -- you can't get 20 people in the room and all of a sudden come to some magical consensus. A lot of this stuff was pre-cooked, They knew where they could get consensus and where they could not get consensus. And I think the fact that they're able to at least talk with one voice, for the most part, on helping out struggling companies, on knocking down the walls of protectionism, you know, they'll hail that as victory. The -- we won't know, I mean just like the economic recovery here, we won't know if this stuff works for some time. The truth is, we don't know if there's enough stimulus going into other countries, such as Germany and France, to help pull those comp -- countries up fast enough to sort of keep pace with our stimulus spending. Because so much of the world is intertwined and you need that capital flowing from several different directions to really lift up all the countries. I think it was really interesting that President Obama said 'hey, I think the patient is starting to recover. We stopped the bleeding.' That all of these collective remedies are starting to work. So I thought that was quite noteworthy.
O'DONNELL: Yeah, his -- his metaphor about the patient, where a patient could still have an emergency.
VANDEHEI: Right.
O'DONNELL: Where there -- where there is further treatment needed in the future. Also, I think it's not just an economic turning point. That's what they wanted to talk about. But there's also a turning point in terms of a break with this administration and the last administration. And Bush foreign policy. The President, today, talked about the old ways of Washington. Let's listen to that.
BARACK OBAMA: Is sort of a term of art about a certain set of policies surrounding globalization. And the application of a cookie cutter model to economic growth, trade liberalization, deregulation, that, you know, was popular and did help globalize and grow the economy and -- and was led by some of our leading economists and policymakers in Washington.
O'DONNELL: Let's turn to that discussion that just I set up with a question, though. How much of this was a clean break with the Bush Administration and that type of foreign policy?
VANDEHEI: Oh, I think that the campaign through now, it's all been a clean break. Because he has, I think, a different world view than President Bush did. Norah, as you well know, Obama could have gone and sat in his hotel room and listened to his ipod and he still would have been greeted with more cheer in Europe than President Bush would. So that's not a hard hurdle to clear. Because Bush was so unpopular overseas and Obama is a rock star overseas, in some places even more so than here. So that part was an easy slam dunk for him. I think the proof is going to be, as we move on and we start to have the crisis that every single president faces, whether it's a showdown with Iran or tensions with a nuclear North Korea, or more -- even more turmoil in Pakistan. If he's able to leverage these relationships or harness the spirit of cooperation to a real useful purpose for the United States. And we won't know that. Most -- as you know, all of these things when you go overseas, they're often -- there aren't that many hitches. They often are choreographed ahead of time. And you kind of know what, at least, the basic outlines of the outcome will be. So it'll take time to see what the value we actually get from these relationships. But so far, so good, it seems, for him.
O'DONNELL: Jim VandeHei, with Politico. Jim, good to see you. Thanks so much for joining us.
VANDEHEI: Take care, Norah, bye.
O'DONNELL: You too.

-- Brent Baker