Bozell & Graham Column: Michelle Obama's Cult in the Media

Michelle Obama made her last public speech as First Lady.  The networks lined up with a 21-handkerchief salute. Nothing will ever be the same.

NBC's Andrea Mitchell proclaimed the speech was “one of hope and empowerment for the young people she has championed for eight years....her unique voice rejecting the racial overtones of 2016." She was a "once-reluctant political wife, fighting an early caricature as an angry black woman… Now, a political orator in a class of her own.” (How quickly they forget that she proclaimed herself to be proud to be an American -- only when her husband, who has stoked racial tensions for eight years, racked up several primary victories.)

CBS's Julianna Goldman touted how Mrs. Obama spotlighted how she "used her celebrity to inspire physical fitness" and "turned into the Democrats’ not-so-secret weapon" in 2016.  (Trump won. How much of a “weapon” was she?)

But these two networks dug deeper. NBC devoted a whole hour of “The Tonight Show”  honoring her. Jimmy Fallon oozed: “Thank you, Mrs. Obama, for being a strong, smart, independent woman, an activist, a style icon, and a great dancer and showing us all what it would look like if Beyonce married a much nerdier Jay-Z." The next morning, “Today” aired that clip, along with a tweet proclaiming “I`m so speechless. I cried, I laughed, I got chills, and I most definitely grieved. Michelle is truly iconic.”

CBS was even worse: They went directly to Oprah Winfrey --  who endorsed Obama for president in 2008 -- for a one-hour special in prime time in December. Oprah uncorked the superlatives: “Mrs. Obama is not only a woman to watch in American politics, but also considered the coolest First Lady in U.S. history.”

Coolness is measured by ideology, not personality. They consider all Republicans to be doormats…and then gush over Hillary Clinton, the flattest doormat in recent White House history.

The gush continued. “With every song, every laugh, and every daring style choice, the power of Michelle Obama's personality and authenticity has made her a pop culture icon....Her fresh approach shined a light on the initiatives she felt most passionate about.” Oprah even cheered “the Obamas' openly affectionate and romantic marriage” as being “a dramatic and welcome change for the First Couple living in the White House.” That juxtaposition applies only to the Clintons, and that's something the Left will never acknowledge. 

In case anyone forgot, this is not how the networks treated Laura Bush. After a few polite First Lady questions, she would often get George-bashing hardballs. In 2005, ABC reporter Jessica Yellin exploited a segment supposedly on White House Christmas cards to ask, "Have you ever met with a mother whose own loss has made you question, even for a moment, whether the U.S. should be in Iraq?"


In 2007, ABC’s Robin Roberts lectured that columnist Thomas Friedman said “we should export hope instead of fear." She added "Desmond Tutu went even farther, saying the generosity of Americans -- that's what we should export instead of our bombs."

Even after the Bushes left Washington, it continued. Matt Lauer in 2010 asked about New Orleans: “ Is it ever painful for you to come back to this region, because in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, it seems so much of the blame for what happened or didn't happen here was laid at the feet of your husband?”

There were no hour-long Oprah specials or Fallon flattery. Laura Bush didn’t have a media cult to praise her every “iconic” utterance and dance move. That’s what Republicans have expected, and quietly tolerated, for decades.  But Michelle Obama coverage sounds like what a state-run media in an authoritarian backwater would broadcast about the Great Leader’s Spouse.

Brent Bozell's picture

Tim Graham's picture