Nets Hail Michelle Obama's 'Deeply Personal' Graduation Speech

On Monday morning, the “Big Three” (ABC, CBS, and NBC) networks rushed to promote Michelle Obama’s commencement speech at Tuskegee University in Alabama over the weekend. 

On CBS This Morning, Co-host Gayle declared “First Lady Michelle Obama’s receiving praise this morning for a commencement address at Tuskegee University. Her speech on Saturday offered some of her most candid remarks on how she’s grown into her historic role.”

The CBS host then turned to Jan Crawford who continued to play up Mrs. Obama’s “deeply personal speech” and how she “told new graduates she wasn’t always the fully formed First Lady that addressed them Saturday.” 

Crawford then highlighted Mrs. Obama’s response to “critics” of her and President Obama: 

She mentioned the persistent questions about her husband's citizenship, a fist bump with then-candidate Obama that was dubbed a terrorist fist jab which led to the controversial 2008 New Yorker magazine cover, an image that Obama said knocked her back a bit. And there were the critics who used racially charged language. 

In fact, when the New Yorker published their "controversial" cover of the Obamas, the liberal media predictably freaked out and worried that the "right" will turn it into a t-shirt. 

Crawford never played clips of the parts of Mrs. Obama’s speech in which she repeatedly complained about being treated "differently" as First Lady. Instead, the CBS reporter featured several soundbites of her calling out those who “assumed we were the help and those who have questioned our intelligence, our honesty, and even our love of this country.” 

As the segment concluded, co-host Norah O’Donnell insisted “[t]hat it is a speech worth reading from beginning to end. Everyone should take a look at that.” 

Over on NBC, the co-hosts of Today applauded Michelle Obama for taking on “name calling” during her commencement address. Matt Lauer called her speech “powerful” and Tamron Hall noted that “[p]eople are still talking about it.” 

Hall then played a lengthy clip of Mrs. Obama’s speech before she sympathized with Mrs. Obama over how “the name calling led to many sleepless nights worrying about what people thought of her.” The NBC reporter then played up how “Twitter was flooded with comments thanking the First Lady for her inspiring words," before she opined that “this one will really stick with that audience and those who heard it.”  

Finally, on ABC’s Good Morning America, Lara Spencer championed Mrs. Obama’s “powerful commencement speech” and Cecilia Vega promoted how “[g]iving an inspiring and impassioned speech this weekend at Alabama's historically black Tuskegee University. Michelle Obama tackling everything from Ferguson to Baltimore to racism.” 

See relevant transcripts below. 

CBS This Morning 

May 11, 2015

GAYLE KING: First Lady Michelle Obama’s receiving praise this morning for a commencement address at Tuskegee University. Her speech on Saturday offered some of her most candid remarks on how she’s grown into her historic role. Jan Crawford is in Washington with the emotional speech. Jan good morning. 

JAN CRAWFORD: Well good morning. So you know, Tuskegee is a black university in Alabama. It's been home to of some of the most prominent African American pioneers. And it was there, before the school’s newest graduating class, that Michelle Obama talked about how she's learned to ignore criticism as America’s first African-American First Lady. In her deeply personal speech, Michelle Obama told new graduates she wasn’t always the fully formed First Lady that addressed them Saturday. 

MICHELLE OBAMA: I had a lot of sleepless nights worrying about what people thought of me. 

CRAWFORD: She mentioned the persistent questions about her husband's citizenship, a fist bump with then-candidate Obama that was dubbed a terrorist fist jab which led to the controversial 2008 New Yorker magazine cover, an image that Obama said knocked her back a bit. And there were the critics who used racially charged language. 

OBAMA: Cable news charmingly referred to me as Obama's baby mama. 

CRAWFORD: She told the graduates they would have to learn to ignore the criticism. 

OBAMA: The road ahead is not going to be easy. It never is, especially for folks like you and me. 

CRAWFORD: She said she and the president know what it's like when people look past them seeing just a fraction of who they really are. 

OBAMA: The people at formal events who assumed we were the help and those who have questioned our intelligence, our honesty, and even our love of this country. 

CRAWFORD: But she said for others the experiences can be so much worse. 

OBAMA: Those nagging worries that you're going to get stopped or pulled over for absolutely no reason. 

CRAWFORD: Alluding to the uprisings in Baltimore and Ferguson she said while those problems are rooted deep, that’s no excuse to give up. 

OBAMA: To succumb to feelings of despair and anger only means that in the end we lose. 

CRAWFORD: Trisha Rose, who heads the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Brown University said Obama's message can have a big impact. 

TRISHA ROSE: This saturates our world. Don't think I am so lofty to be above this to be above the mistreatment. And on the other hand she’s saying even with all of that there are some ways to continue to fight and to hold on to what you believe in. 

CRAWFORD: Now Mrs. Obama also talked about feeling invisible. You know, that as hard as you try you just don't matter. And those are themes that were explored back in 1953 in Ralph Ellison’s iconic book Invisible Man. And she pointed out to the new graduates that Ellison was one of the many pioneers who got their start at Tuskegee and went on to greatness. Norah?  

NORAH O’DONNELL: Jan thanks. That is a speech worth reading from beginning to end. Everyone should take a look at that. Thank you Jan. 


NBC’s Today

May 11, 2015

MATT LAUER: Alright, we're in the middle of May, it's graduation season. And Tamron, the First Lady gave a powerful speech over the weekend. 

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: First Lady on "Name Calling"; Michelle Obama's Commencement Speech Goes Viral]

TAMRON HALL: Absolutely, guys. People are still talking about it. First Lady Michelle Obama spoke to the graduating class of Tuskegee University Saturday and video of her powerful speech quickly went viral. She addressed stereotypes and the pressure she faces not only as the First Lady of this country but also as an African-American woman. Take a listen. 

MICHELLE OBAMA: I was also the focus of another set of questions and speculation, conversations sometimes rooted in the fears and misperceptions of others. Was I too loud or too angry or too emasculating? Then there was the first time I was on a magazine cover. It was a cartoon drawing of me with a huge afro and a machine gun. Now, yeah, it was satire. But if I'm really being honest, that knocked me back a bit. 

HALL: This, of course, is the cover the first lady was referring to. Meanwhile, she went on to say how the name calling led to many sleepless nights worrying about what people thought of her. Well, Twitter was flooded with comments thanking the First Lady for her inspiring words. Guys, so a lot of people still reacting to that. And you can imagine why. You know, you go to the graduation, you hear these speeches that stick with you for a really long time. And I think this one will really stick with that audience and those who heard it. 

NBDaily Race Issues Racism ABC Good Morning America CBS CBS This Morning NBC Today Gayle King Jan Crawford Matt Lauer Norah O'Donnell Tamron Hall Cecilia Vega Lara Spencer Michelle Obama

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