As though de Nies were a PR representative for the First Lady, the ABC reporter could hardly contain herself: "Her spotlight seems to only shine brighter. She's the cover girl on countless magazines with her belted cardigans and signature sleeveless style." Continuing to uncritically hype Mrs. Obama, the journalist rhapsodized, "Mrs. Obama's look is anything but traditional. She wears it all. High fashion to high function, all the while wowing the world."
De Nies recapped many of the press events the First Lady conducted in 2009, including hula hooping on the White House lawn to promote exercise: "She's the healthy host. Mrs. Obama proved that exercise can be fun with enviable results."
And the act of presiding over the creation of a White House garden resulted in this hyperbolic praise: "The vegetable patch was the place where she set a growing example. She's every woman. Mrs. Obama is always quick to remind people that not so long ago she, too, was a working mom trying to balance it all. Even now she says she's still hasn't figured it out."
At the end of the segment, de Nies offered a token amount of criticism: "She's shown many sides but some want her to show more substance. It's clear Michelle Obama still has a lot to deliver." She then featured this brief clip from the Washington Post's Robin Givhan: "She is making most of her news by showing up, as opposed to by the content of the remarks. I think that will change in 2010."
De Nies has often acted as a stenographer to Mrs. Obama. On October 1, 2009 , she preemptively predicted there would not be a "dry eye in the house" for the First Lady's speech in Copenhagen for the (ultimately futile) bid to obtain the Olympics for Chicago. Again, this was before the speech had been given.
A transcript of the January 20 segment, which aired at 8:07am EST, follows:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We're going to move to Michelle Obama and the First Lady's first year in the White House. 78 percent of Americans say they're pretty happy with the way Michelle Obama is handling her role as first lady. So, what did she do this past year to please so many Americans and what does she have planned next? Yunji de Nies has more from the White House. Yunji?-Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center.
YUNJI DE NIES: Well, good morning. The First Lady's job is so unique, no job description, no salary but still a lot of responsibility. It is what each woman makes it and the multifaceted Michelle Obama has certainly made it her own. He may have won the presidency, but when she set foot on Pennsylvania Avenue, Michelle Obama captivated the country. Her spotlight seems to only shine brighter. She's the cover girl on countless magazines with her belted cardigans and signature sleeveless style. Mrs. Obama's look is anything but traditional. She wears it all. High fashion to high function, all the while wowing the world.
UNIDENTIFIED YOUNG GIRL #1: She's beautiful.
UNIDENTIFIED YOUNG GIRL #2:I love her dress.
DE NIES: So, does she dress like a First Lady?
ROBIN GIVHAN (Author, Michelle: Her First Year as First Lady): I think she's changing that definition. She looks like someone that you would know as opposed to someone who looks like there's a wax statue of her somewhere.
BARACK OBAMA: Thank you, everybody.
DE NIES: She's mom-in-chief, helping her daughters settle has been the first lady's top priority. And now says Malia and Sasha are happy in their new home, thanks to her own mother and a new member of the family. [Video of the dog.]
MICHELLE OBAMA [talking to kids at a school]: This is one of my favorite books.
DE NIES: As a mother she's reached out to children with special attention to young women. Mentoring girls at the White House and encouraging others to follow her lead. She's the healthy host. Mrs. Obama proved that exercise can be fun with enviable results. [Video of Michelle Obama hula hooping.]
BARACK OBAMA: We can all agree that Michelle has the right to bare arms.
MICHELLE OBAMA [Video of Michelle digging the White House garden.]: Let's go.
DE NIES: Perhaps the only thing that drew more attention than the First Lady herself was her garden.
MICHELLE OBAMA: We need a wheelbarrow.
DE NIES: From planting to harvest-
MICHELLE OBAMA: Look at this.
DE NIES: The vegetable patch was the place where she set a growing example. She's every woman. Mrs. Obama is always quick to remind people that not so long ago she, too, was a working mom trying to balance it all, even now she says she's still hasn't figured it out.
MICHELLE OBAMA: There isn't a day that goes by particularly after having kids that I don't wonder or worry about whether I'm doing the right thing for myself, for my family, for my girls.
DE NIES: She brings that normalcy to the White House. The girls have chores, TV rules and she keeps him grounded.
ANITA MCBRIDE (Laura Bush's former chief of staff): That's the one person the President can always rely on to be the most honest with him. There's no one that's going to do it better than the president's wife.
DE NIES: She's shown many sides but some want her to show more substance. It's clear Michelle Obama still has a lot to deliver.
GIVHAN: She is making most of her news by showing up, as opposed to by the content of the remarks. I think that will change in 2010.
DE NIES: And in this second year we are expecting to see a much more policy-oriented First Lady. Today, Mrs. Obama will deliver a speech on childhood obesity to the U.S. Conference of Mayors. It's the start of a brand-new initiative and, George, expect to hear a lot more about that in the coming months.