Thalia Assuras, CBS During the 8:30AM EST half hour of Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Russ Mitchell introduced a fawning news brief on Michelle Obama’s first 50 days as First Lady: "In the seven weeks since the new President was inaugurated, the new glamorous First Lady has found her place in a glamorous world. Thalia Assuras has a look at Michelle Obama's successful new life." Assuras began her report: "Everyone wants an invitation to her parties. She's graced several magazine covers. Even Oprah is giving up a slice for the first time. She's the focus of fashionistas, those buff arms igniting commentary, and websites produce constant chatter."

Assuras went on to describe how Michellle Obama had surpassed other First Ladies: "Michelle Obama has created a stir like no other First Lady...Style watchers caution that all new First Ladies cause excitement, but Mrs. Obama is a celebrity who embodies a new generation...That thing, that polls show, produces more positives than recent First Ladies at the outset of past administrations."

Assuras spoke with Washington Post gossip columnist Amy Argetsinger, who exclaimed: "People are sort of reacting to her the way they would to a movie star...She's the youngest First Lady we've had in a while, but she's also got a charisma about her. She's got the height of a fashion model, she looks great in clothes. And, you know, there's kind of that Jackie O thing going on." Following Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal giving the Republican response to Barack Obama’s address to Congress last week, Argetsinger remarked about Jindal: "I found his [pyschotic killer Charles] Manson eyes disturbing."

Bill Plante, CBS Teasing a fawning segment on First Lady Michelle Obama on Thursday’s CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric declared: "And the lady of the house feeling right at home." Couric later introduced the segment: "And finally tonight, ever since Abigail Adams moved into the White House in 1800, every First Lady has brought her own personal touch to the executive mansion, and the city of Washington. As Bill Plante tells us, the new First Lady is busy making her mark."

White House Correspondent Bill Plante gave a glowing review of the First Lady’s first month: "For Michelle Obama, welcoming famous Americans to the White House seems effortless...But the new First Lady goes from traditionally elegant and formal to relaxed and casual with ease. Just days before this tribute to Stevie Wonder, she charmed culinary students in the White House kitchen, talking about how tough it is to get her kids to eat vegetables...Michelle Obama's been to all the usual places around Washington -- the Kennedy Center, Fords Theater, and nationally, she's been on the covers of Vogue and People magazine...After a month, it's already clear that Michelle Obama won't be content to stay behind these well-guarded gates at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue."

Plante concluded his report by observing: "She's also been touring government agencies, but it's her message to local children that seems most important to her. As she tells them over and over, you, too, can be President or First Lady...And it's her ability to connect that could make her mark as First Lady."

Tonight at 9pm ET President Barack Obama will address Congress for the first time. He will be speaking about his plan for the economy and we here at NewsBusters will be putting on a live chat. Feel free to talk about the speech itself, media reaction to it, and anything else you might think of.

Acorn0209.jpgRick Sentelli's rant for the ages (transcript here) on CNBC's Squawk Box yesterday criticizing the recently passed stimulus package and the Obama administration's mortgage modification program was marred somewhat by the studio hosts. Though their tone was semi-humorous, it's telling that their instincts were to characterize the traders present at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange as a "mob," and to assume that Santelli somehow controlled them ("putty in your hands"). When Santelli suggested a Chicago Tea Party, one of the hosts warned that Mayor Daley and the National Guard would be mobilized.

In October of last year, in a memorable exchange on the day that history may decide was when American free-market capitalism entered the point of no return, CNBC reporters seemed somewhat amused that Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson had "put a (figurative) gun to the heads" of major bank CEOs to force them to accept government "investment."

Well if you don't mind my asking, will we see any reaction out of CNBC's studio folks to an example of real mob rule in the mortgage marketplace?

In a story at WJZ in Baltimore whose headline and coverage almost seem deliberately understated ("ACORN Trains Citizens To Protest Home Foreclosures"), the station tells us that ACORN "protesters" had broken into and occupied a foreclosed home (HT Inside Charm City via Michelle Malkin):

Get Diane Sawyer together with George Stephanopoulos on World News and they can't contain their giddiness over President Obama. Back on Friday, January 23, when Sawyer last anchored, Stephanopoulos hailed Obama's first three days as “disciplined and strategic,” thus enabling “sweeping change,” while Sawyer gushed over “ warp speed.” Monday night, Sawyer returned to the anchor chair and excitedly announced how “the trillion dollar week has begun” and so “finally,” as if it's been too long of a wait, “the stimulus starts to flow.” She soon heralded how “we embark on a week like no other in American economic history” with “a presidential whirlwind of spending against a recession.”
After a story from David Muir on the “dizzying and daunting amount of federal spending that President Obama will tackle this week,” Sawyer brought Stephanopoulos aboard to admire what Sawyer described as a “scrapbook, if you will, of the President's journey on the road to the stimulus package.” In other words, photos released by the White House. Nonetheless, she effused: “I want to show everybody at home, because there is the President, it's Super Bowl night, and he's serving cookies to congressional leadership in the White House screening room.” (jpg of the photo as shown by ABC.)

The narration switched to an awed Stephanopoulos: “These are just remarkable, Diane. We've never really seen anything like this before in real time.” Over a picture of Obama leaning back in a chair he oozed: “You see the President taking a little bit of a well-deserved rest right there.” Sawyer matched Stephanopoulos' smile: “Yeah, I wonder how often they'll take that scrapbook out and look through those pictures.”

Plouffe0209.jpgHere's the relative tempest in a teapot that happened on Thursday:

Former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe made an unusual request for his speech today at the National Press Club: he wanted it off the record.

..... Politico editor-in-chief John Harris said that after hearing of Plouffe’s request, and decision not to reverse course, he backed out from moderating the lunch-time event.

Harris said that as a news organization, he doesn't want Politico "being in the the business of sponsoring, or co-sponsoring, an off the record talk with a newsworthy person.”

Here's a much more relevant issue: How is David Plouffe (picture above is at Media Bistro) a "former" campaign manager?

Based on this e-mail I received on Friday, I'd say he's still in that role (bold is mine):

Washington Post columnist Colby King scoffed Friday at the notion former President Ronald Reagan brought more substance to the White House than does President Barack Obama as King also raised the Iran-Contra scandal as evidence of Reagan's mismanagement of foreign policy.
On Inside Washington, a weekly show produced and aired over the weekend by Washington, DC's ABC affiliate, but first broadcast Friday night on the local PBS station, King contended: “This President connects with people.” That prompted fill-in moderator Mark Shields to ask columnist Charles Krauthammer: “Is it Reagan-like in that sense?” Krauthammer cautioned: “Well, except that Reagan, I think, had a lot more substance and he had a lot more ideas-” Cutting Krauthammer off, a chortling King jeered: “More substance than Obama?!”

Krauthammer held firm and then pointed out how Obama's “never managed a candy store, and the way he put together his cabinet shows that he's got a long way to go,” so while “he's very fluid in his speech,” on foreign affairs he's “extremely slow on delivery because he's extremely unsure.” To which King -- the Post's deputy editorial page editor from 2000 to 2007 -- derisively interjected: “He's managed as well as Reagan with Iran-Contra.”

Journalist George Stephanopoulos appeared on Monday's "Nightline" to offer high grades for Barack Obama's first primetime press conference. He awarded the President an A for overall performance at the event and a B for Obama's bipartisan efforts. During the presidential campaign, Stephanopoulos was consistent in giving high marks to the then-Democratic candidate, announcing that Obama won all his debates against Republican John McCain and that Joe Biden bested Sarah Palin.

Speaking to "Nightline" anchor Terry Moran, the "This Week" host enthused, "Well, I think he got an A on this, Terry...He had the long answers, five-minute mini-essays or speeches all about the economy, able to explain from his perspective how bad the situation is, how we got into this mess and how his stimulus package will fix it." On the subject of reaching out to Republicans, Stephanopoulos asserted, "I think on that you give him a B." After allowing that the President hasn't been able to obtain GOP support for the stimulus bill, he spun, "He was able to make his points tonight, how, basically, that isn't his fault. That's what he was trying to say tonight. He has reached out, he hasn't had a response from the Republican side."

On Sunday's "Good Morning America," journalist George Stephanopoulos asserted that "some White House officials I've talked to concede" that Barack Obama has placed too much emphasis on gathering Republican support for the stimulus bill now before Congress. Now, considering that the Politico claimed on January 27 that Stephanopoulos has been participating in daily phone calls with White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, one wonders if Emanuel was the aforementioned "White House official." If so, was this a criticism by Emanuel of his boss?

In the original Politico article, John Harris wrote about daily strategy sessions between Stephanopoulos and the White House chief of staff, as well as Democratic pundits/strategists James Carville and Paul Begala. Harris explained, "And in any given news cycle, it is quite likely that Washington’s prevailing political and media interpretation — at least on the Democratic side — is being hatched on these calls."

The 51st Annual Grammy Awards was an occasion to celebrate great musicians and … our president. Viewers were treated to more Obama love, as they learned he has received two Grammys for reading his own books on tape.

The president of the Grammys, Neil Portnow, made sure to let viewers know how much he loves the new commander-in-chief by spending his three minutes on stage chanting President Obama’s campaign phrase “Yes we can!” five times and pleading with Obama to create a new cabinet position dedicated to the arts and culture.

“Because of the creative community, it means that he is one of us – he’s an artist,” Portnow gushed. “… So having a Grammy-winner in the White House provides great hope for the future of music and the arts in our country, and for that we say, ‘Thank you Mr. President for the inspiration to loudly shout, ‘yes we can.’’”

On a day when Barack Obama was struggling to push through a stimulus bill in Congress, journalists on Friday's "Today" show decided to fawn over the branding of the new President, even referring to the Commander in Chief as the "messiah of Madison Avenue." NBC correspondent Jamie Gangel highlighted a batch of new Obama merchandise and enthused, "And the whole world is apparently going Obama."

Speaking of the various products and worldwide commercials featuring the first family, Gangel raved, "Everyone wants to be like Barack. He's being called the messiah of Madison Avenue." As video of the Obama children appeared onscreen, the reporter continued, "They're the 'It girls.' Together, welcome brand Obama." After discussing the new brand of Obama-flavored ice cream ("Yes Pecan") and Michelle Obama-inspired fashion, Gangel extolled, "America has embraced the Obama family and a new sense of chic."

Her husband may finally be facing scrutiny, but the media still faint for Michelle.

“Pep rally.” “Rock show.”  “Church service.” These were the words a Washington Post staff writer used to describe a brief appearance by the first lady at a government agency on Wednesday. It’s part of the ongoing drumbeat of press adulation for all things Obama.