MSNBC's Savannah Guthrie on Thursday conducted a sycophantic interview with Michelle Obama, urging the First Lady to complain about the "uglier side" of the health care debate. The Daily Rundown co-host sympathetically asked, "There was a lot of vitriol, some pretty hateful things said. And I wondered what your feeling was about that?" [Audio available here.]
Guthrie continued, "Was it hard to stand by and listen to some of that?" Offering the First Lady another softball, she reiterated, "Hearing some of the uglier side of it, did that make you angry?"
The questions didn't get any tougher. Discussing Barack Obama's coming Supreme Court nomination, Guthrie prompted, "You're a Harvard-educated lawyer. Do you think there should be more gender balance, gender equity on the court?" Many of the queries were so vague as to barely qualify as questions: "Do you feel like you have to avoid controversy? Do you feel like you have to edit yourself?"
Guthrie frequently rhapsodizes over Democrats and she continued that tradition on Thursday by gushing, "Does [the job of First Lady] feel confining at all?" Talking to co-host Chuck Todd after the interview, the cable journalist couldn't help but enthuse: "[Michelle Obama] prides herself on being straightforward and authentic..."
A shorter version of the interview appeared on Thursday's Today. Guthrie's question about the "vitriol" and "hateful things" said during the health care debate were not included.
A partial transcript of the April 15 segment, which aired at 9:16am EDT, follows.
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Well, I can't resist asking you a news-of-the-day question. Do you think your President- do you think your husband should appoint a woman to the Supreme Court?
MICHELLE OBAMA: You know, I think that he will develop a process in the same way that he chose the last Supreme Court justice that is thorough and thoughtful and is going to identify the best candidates for the job, and he's going to pick the best person for the job. I think he did a phenomenal job in picking one of my favorite justices, Justice Sotomayor. And she is doing a phenomenal job. I trust that this process will lead to a similar outcome, one that we can be proud of.
GUTHRIE: Okay but you've got to have an opinion. You're a Harvard-educated lawyer. Do you think there should be more gender balance, gender equity on the court?
OBAMA: Diversity in this country is a good thing, whether it's gender or race or socioeconomic background or religion. You know, that's the world I come from. The more views and experiences at the table make for better outcomes. But, again, this is a big process, and it involves a lot of thinking and a lot of people who know more about the candidates than I will. So, yes, I have opinions, and I share them with my husband at times. But, you know, I think he knows what he's doing in this instance.
GUTHRIE: Let me ask you about that, because I actually got a chance to interview the President. I asked him about you. And he said you were his number-one adviser.
OBAMA: That's what he's supposed to say. Well done.
GUTHRIE: Yes, it is. And I've been waiting six months for this follow-up. I really wonder what that looks like.
OBAMA: You know, I talk to my husband about everything. We're each other's best friends. But he also has a slew of smart, intelligent advisers who are up on every single issue. And he also relies heavily on the people who have experience and expertise. But, we share our ideas and thoughts just as any married couple would. So it's not- you know, it's not a mystery about how that works. It works the same way as-
GUTHRIE: You're not in there saying, "I'm for the public option?" Do you think you can change his mind on some things?
OBAMA: I'm sure I could. You know, I'm a good debater. I've had my share of arguments won. But, you know, my husband is- he's a smart, open person. And I think he listens to all ideas, mine included, and he, unlike many people, can stomach reading his critics, his worst critics, as well as his strongest supporters. But, I think he gets great advice in listening to both opinions. Even people who can't stand him.
GUTHRIE: I was going to ask you about that, because, of course this health care debate was tough. There was a lot of vitriol, some pretty hateful things said. And I wondered what your feeling was about that? Was it hard to stand by and listen to some of that?
OBAMA: The health care debate became confused. I think that there are people who believe that health care reform is going to be bad for them. And I think when people feel like something's at risk, they speak out. That's the American way. But I think as the President said, you know, now that this reform bill has been passed and we have time for the dust to settle and people actually get a chance to experience the truth of what the reform is and isn't, he's confident that people will be grateful for this type of reform.
GUTHRIE: Hearing some of the uglier side of it, did that make you angry?
OBAMA: You know, I don't focus on the negative. You know, in this life that we're living, to be able to represent the entire country, which I do proudly, it's so important to be open to the criticism but also to take in the real issues and that you don't get caught up into what's personal and get offended. That's not- you know, that's not what people need the First Lady and the president to be is personally offended by criticism. They need people who are going to roll up their sleeves and work and get the job done.