All three morning shows on Wednesday hyped Barack Obama's elaborate state dinner with French President Francois Hollande, but only ABC's Good Morning America wondered about the dinner's cost. Instead, NBC's Today and CBS This Morning gossiped over Michelle Obama's dress and the newly single French leader. CBS's Garrett sounded like something out of a fashion magazine as he announced, "With a musical flourish, a slow descent down the grand staircase. Michelle Obama's dress a liberty blue Carolina Herrera."
Garrett informed viewers that "Hollande's infidelity-fueled break-up" prompted a need to seat the dateless President between Mrs. And Mrs. Obama. Today's Natalie Morales excitedly related, "Everybody's talking about the big state dinner at the White House last night. And Francois Hollande didn't have a date..." It was left to ABC, often the most superficial network, to question the extravagance. [MP3 audio here.]
Correspondent Jon Karl wondered, "So, how much does all of this cost? Well, we don't know yet." He informed, "But this week we learned how much the state dinners of President Obama's first term cost. They ranged from $216,000 for the German dinner to $570,000 for India."
Karl predicted this one would be "on the expensive side" and that "taxpayers would pick up the tab."
Although ABC should be commended for discussing a serious angle of the state dinner, Karl also made sure to tout the "caviar from Illinois, tangerines from Florida, chocolate from Hawaii."
Good Morning America's focus on price is a change for the light-hearted morning show. On January 7, the network fawned over Michelle Obama's "extended vacation" in Hawaii, but showed no interest in what it would cost taxpayers.
On June 18, 2013, GMA did the same for the Obama family's "beautiful" vacation, but skipped the $60-$100 million price tag.
All three networks touted Mrs. Obama's new dress. CBS This Morning even interviewed its designer, Carolina Herrera. But none of them discussed the reported $12,000 cost.
A partial transcript of the February 12 segment, which aired at 7:11, is below:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We're going to go to Washington now and that glamorous state dinner at the White House. The stars were out for the guest of honor. French President Francois Hollande, who came solo after his split from France's first lady, made tabloid headlines around the world. That threw a curve to the party planners and ABC's Jon Karl has the story.
JON KARL: Actor Bradley Cooper and his super model girlfriend. Stephen Colbert, Mary J. Blige, the first openly gay NBA player Jason Collins, the veep and one who plays a veep on TV. The first state dinner of President Obama's second term brought out the rich, the famous and the powerful. It was a chance to show the French the best of American cuisine. The menu included caviar from Illinois, tangerines from Florida, chocolate from Hawaii, wine from Virginia. The American president --
BARACK OBAMA: Bonsoir. Please, have a seat. I have now officially exhausted my French.
KARL: And the French president Francois Hollande, exchanged toasts.
FRANCOIS HOLLANDE: [Speaking French.]
KARL: "We love Americans" President Hollande said, "although we don't always say so." But it was Hollande's personal love life that provided the unspoken drama. He arrived stag after an alleged affair with a French actress ended his relationship with the woman who had been considered France's first lady just last month. Hollande ended up sitting between the Obamas. The First Lady decked out in this purple and black Carolina Herrera gown. Former NBA star Jason Collins tweeted that he wanted a dance with her. Good luck with that. Unlike previous state dinners, there was no dancing at this one. Perhaps an effort to keep Hollande from the awkward position of finding a dance partner. So, how much does all of this cost? Well, we don't know yet. But this week we learned how much the state dinners of President Obama's first term cost. They ranged from $216,000 for the German dinner to $570,000 for India. This was a pretty big one, George. I imagine it will be on the expensive side and, of course, as always with state dinners, taxpayers will pick up the tab.
STEPHANOPOULOS: They will pick up the tab.