ABC Praises Michelle Obama's 'Powerful' Rebuke of Conservative Women, in Gushy 20/20

ABC’s 20/20 special on Michelle Obama Sunday night was about what you’d expect from the same network who hailed the “transcendent, communal joy” and “dancing in the streets” after Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008. While just a few weeks ago, ABC’s 20/20 on Melania Trump spent nearly every minute on controversies and strife in the White House and their marriage, this episode on the Obamas was a complete 180 in tone and content, with not even a brief mention of Obama's own controversies.

ABC anchor Robin Roberts traveled with Michelle Obama to her hometown of Chicago, visiting the neighborhood and house in which their family lived before moving into the White House, to talk to her about her upcoming memoir.

Roberts spent about half the show gushing over Obama being a “star student” being raised in a wholesome working class family. There were a few eyebrow raising moments which seem to poke holes in Obama’s picture-perfect story, from her former pot smoking, promiscuity and bigoted thoughts about white people, but these admissions were glossed over by ABC as non-controversial.

The last half of the special was split between a rant session against President Trump and both Michelle and Barack’s legacies.

Roberts sympathized with Michelle about how criticism from Trump about her husband’s birth certificate was “hurtful,” before trying to get her to bash Melania:

“Is the current First Lady -- how do you think she is doing in defining who she is?” Roberts asked skeptically. While Obama didn’t comment, she did talk to her at length about how racist and misogynist Trump was, and revealed some haughty attitudes about women who voted for Trump (attitudes she’s revealed before:)

OBAMA: We were now up against a bully challenging the dignity of our country with practically his every utterance. It was dignity I wanted to make an appeal for.

ROBERTS: An appeal she would continue to make just weeks before that presidential election...For Mrs. Obama the stakes could not have been higher. She writes --

OBAMA: I articulated my rage and my fear, along with my faith that with this election Americans understood the true nature of what they were choosing between.

ROBERTS: What you haven't said before, you said, "I will always wonder about what led so many, women in particular, to reject an exceptionally qualified female candidate and instead choose a misogynist as their president." Some powerful words.

Roberts took the opportunity to praise President Obama as scandal-free, compared to Trump, even imploring Michelle to offer up her own criticism of the current presidency:

I think it’s safe to say, during your husband’s presidency, it was no drama Obama, no drama Obama, so what goes through your mind when you read and hear all that’s going on in this administration?

She also suggested that racism against Obama was what helped Trump win the election:

There's some people that feel that the seed of discontent that led to Donald Trump being elected president, that the seed of that discontent happened during your husband's presidency.

The network carefully avoided asking any tough questions of the former First Lady. Compare this to how ABC treated Melania Trump on her own 20/20 episode a few weeks ago, where she fielded several questions about allegations of infidelity and the entire tone of the special was cynical and dark.

On Good Morning America the next morning, Roberts, Cecilia Vega and George Stephanopoulos praised Obama for “going there” and taking up “the mantle” on “race, infertility, family and the White House.”

Transcript below:

Portions of ABC’s 20/20

11/11/2018

MICHELLE OBAMA: We were now up against a bully challenging the dignity of our country with practically his every utterance.

TRUMP: Crooked Hillary Clinton.

OBAMA: It was dignity I wanted to make an appeal for.

ROBIN ROBERTS: An appeal she would continue to make just weeks before that presidential election. A now infamous tape surfaced of Donald Trump talking about grabbing women by their private parts.

OBAMA: This is not normal. This is not politics as usual. This is disgraceful. It is intolerable.

ROBERTS: For Mrs. Obama the stakes could not have been higher. She writes --

OBAMA: I articulated my rage and my fear, along with my faith that with this election Americans understood the true nature of what they were choosing between.

ROBERTS: What you haven't said before, you said, "I will always wonder about what led so many, women in particular, to reject an exceptionally qualified female candidate and instead choose a misogynist as their president." Some powerful words.

OBAMA: I implored people to focus and to think about what it takes to be commander in chief. It's amazing to me that we still have to tell people about the importance of voting. You know, that almost every two years, we're having this conversation to get people to the polls. And in the end, that's how our democracy works. People have to be educated, they have to be focused on the issues and they have to go to the polls if they want their politics to reflect their values. That day I was feeling everything all at once, tired, proud, distraught, eager.

ROBERTS: On January 20th, 2017, the nation watched the peaceful transition of power from president Obama to president trump. Mrs. Obama, in her own words, describes coming to terms with the new reality before her.

OBAMA: The vibrant diversity of the two previous inaugurations was gone. Someone from Barack's administration might have said that the optics there were bad, that what the public saw didn't reflect the president's reality or ideals. But in this case, maybe it did. Realizing it, I made my own optic adjustment -- I stopped even trying to smile.

People want to -- to hear more from you about what's currently going on. And there is a fine line that you and your husband, as previous administrations have done, is that you have to step back and let the current one do what it's doing. But I think it's safe to say that during your husband's presidency, it was no drama Obama. No drama Obama. So what goes through your mind when you read and hear all that's going on right now with this administration?

OBAMA: I said what I continue to say. Being the commander in chief is a hard job, and you need to have discipline, and you need to read and you need to be knowledgeable. You need to know history, you need to be careful with your words. But voters make those decisions. And once the voters have spoken, you know, we live with what we live with.

ROBERTS: In her book she writes --

‘Our presence in the White House had been celebrated by millions of Americans, but it also contributed to a reactionary sense of fear and resentment among others. The hatred was old and deep and as dangerous as ever.’

ROBERTS: There's some people that feel that the seed of discontent that led to Donald Trump being elected president, that the seed of that discontent happened during your husband's presidency.

OBAMA: I would like to indulge the question, but it requires a level of speculation about how people are feeling and thinking that I don't have. And I think we're gonna have to figure that out as a nation.

 

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