Two journalists appearing as guests on CNN on Wednesday and Thursday praised “mighty Michelle” Obama for being “stylish,” “successful,” and for showing “an interest in wanting to reach out to people who may feel they’ve been disenfranchised or held at a distance from the power structure.”
Self-described “political provocateur” Lola Adesioye, who writes for the Huffington Post and the left-wing British rag The Guardian, gushed over the first lady during a segment on Wednesday’s Newsroom: “Personally, I find her fascinating. I’m impressed. I’m -- you know, I’m inspired by her, as somebody who can be a mother, a wife and successful in her career as well. So, you know, it’s been -- it’s really, really been a great thing.”
Eighteen hours later on Thursday’s American Morning, the Washington Post’s Robin Givhan tried to sell how Mrs. Obama could aid her husband on the international stage: “[She] helps people to get more of a human sense of the administration. And also, I think that for many people, there was, to some degree, a sense of being closed off to the rest of the world or closed off to those who are kind of outside of the mainstream by other administrations. And I think this is a way of trying to build those bridges in a way that is very non-confrontational.”
Anchor Kyra Phillips interviewed Adesioye at the bottom half of the 2 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program. The “journalist and commentator,” as Phillips described her, lauded the first lady from the start: “Yeah, everyone’s calling her mighty Michelle, and I think she has that every woman kind of perception. But also she’s still glamorous, she’s elegant, and she makes her husband look very, very good....You know, she’s a very good -- good figure for Barack.”
Later, the anchor asked Adesioye for her personal take on Mrs. Obama, and the Brit couldn’t contain herself:
PHILLIPS: Well, I’m curious. Not only as a journalist, but as a black woman, what do you think? I mean, what’s it been like to -- to talk about her, to write about her, to see this dynamic overseas?
ADESIOYE: Personally, I find her fascinating. I’m impressed. I’m -- you know, I’m inspired by her, as somebody who can be a mother, a wife and successful in her career as well. So, you know, it’s been -- it’s really, really been a great thing. And you know, as someone who is a dark-skinned, black woman as well, that’s also very inspirational.
PHILLIPS: Do you think she’s changing perceptions?
ADESIOYE: Definitely. I mean, she’s stylish, you know, and that’s important, because she knows how to look good and it’s natural and she’s successful. She’s very much the kind of epitome, I think, of, you know, what a lot of women aspire to be -- a woman who has it all, and is still down to earth.
It seems that Ms. Adesioye devoted as much as energy in praising Michelle as she did in bashing Pope Benedict XVI (“As I write, I am enraged... Enraged at the Pope who, while on his current trip to Africa has made a pronouncement that condoms could make the HIV/Aids situation in Africa worse....The Pope is more concerned about his beliefs than about the lives of African people. Shame on him.”)
After expounding on how the first lady “helps people to get more of a human sense of the administration,” Givhan and substitute anchor Carol Costello discussed Mrs. Obama’s fashion sense, as compared to Carla Bruni, the current wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy:
COSTELLO: Okay. Let’s jump into the fashion for just a second, because we can’t neglect that --
GIVHAN: Who can resist?
COSTELLO: I know. I know that the French president’s wife isn’t there, Carla Bruni.
COSTELLO: But Michelle Obama will be meeting with her in France, I think, tomorrow, right?
COSTELLO: And of course, Carla Bruni and Michelle Obama --
GIVHAN: And there is no competition.
COSTELLO: Because people are saying, oh, it’s going to be like this fashion smackdown.
GIVHAN: Right, like there’s going to be like an ‘I Love Lucy’ episode and they are ripping brooches off each other. Now, I don’t think that’s going to happen, but I do think what people are curious about is that Carla Bruni has really embraced the highest levels of French fashion. She wears Dior. She wears Hermes. I mean, these are brands that do not make any attempt to sort of make themselves available to the --
COSTELLO: Nobody can afford that --
COSTELLO: Except someone with inherited wealth like Carla Bruni.
GIVHAN: Exactly. But I also think she represents in many ways how the French people feel about their fashion industry. It is a source of national pride. And for Americans that are still grappling with the idea of fashion -- still perceiving it as something that is a bit elitist -- I think that’s going to be sort of the tricky thing that Michelle Obama has to negotiate.
COSTELLO: Yeah. Well, I hope she wears J. Crew, because I just think that would be a cool thing to do. It’s like sticking it right in her face. Thank you for -- so much for joining us this morning.
I guess this is what passes for serious discussion on CNN these days.