NY Times Misses the Point on Michelle Obama's Intrusive, Politicized 'Star Turn' on Oscar Night

February 26th, 2013 10:51 AM

New York Times reporter Jennifer Steinhauer missed the point in her Tuesday take on Michelle Obama's "star turn" on Oscar night to announce the award for best picture at the Academy Awards, "A Tale of Secret Talks and Intrigue Behind Michelle Obama's Oscars Appearance."

She may not have walked the red carpet, but Michelle Obama -- all bangs and biceps and bling -- had her own star turn during Sunday night’s Academy Awards ceremony, when she announced the winner for best picture via satellite from the White House.

Barely moments after Mrs. Obama’s late night revelation of the fate of the nominated best films, the question of whether it was proper or dignified or awesome for the first lady of the United States to dirty her hands with a motion picture envelope disintegrated into a predictably partisan rhubarb.

But that's changing the subject. The question isn't whether the first family can lower themselves to the level of popular culture; that was settled the night then-candidate Bill Clinton played saxophone on the Arsenio Hall show in 1992. It's the question of the vastly different ways Hollywood treats those political figures, depending on their party.

Here's the Oscar's co-producer advancing the argument for including Michelle Obama:

“Literally from the first day we were hired we thought, ‘How can we make this special?’” said Neil Meron, who was hired last fall to produce the Oscar event with Craig Zadan. “We were hoping Obama would win so we could have our plan executed.”

And they say Hollywood is full of shallow careerist lefties!

Steinhauer continued missing the point by insisting the question of Michelle Obama's appearance was one of "propriety," as opposed to a question of blunt and intrusive liberal political boosterism. Natuarlly, Steinhauer found the liberal argument more "charitable" and convincing.

Mrs. Obama, wearing a shimmering gown designed by Naeem Khan, was hand-delivered the shiny classified envelope opening containing the winner, “Argo,” the Ben Affleck-directed film about a C.I.A. plan to rescue Americans from Iran during the hostage crisis, by Bob Moritz, the chief executive for PricewaterhouseCoopers from New York, which certifies the awards. White-gloved White House military social aides stood in the background.

But Washington was as absorbed about the propriety of a first lady having such a central role in the Oscars, suggesting it was less proper than, say, a president throwing out a baseball pitch or flipping pancakes in Iowa in the courting of voters. “Now the first lady feels entitled,” said Jennifer Rubin, a conservative blogger for the Washington Post, “with military personnel as props, to intrude on other forms of entertaining, this time for the benefit of the Hollywood glitterati who so lavishly paid for her husband’s election.”

Others were more charitable. The Web site Slate pointed out that Laura Bush taped a “What Do the Movies Mean to You?” segment for the Academy Awards while she was first lady in 2002 and that President Franklin D. Roosevelt opened the 13th Academy Awards ceremony by addressing the nation and the crowd at the Biltmore Hotel.