Are you tired of all the focus on what Michelle Obama wears?

Well, the good folks at the "Today" show certainly aren't, for they spent a lot of time this week discussing whether or not the First Lady was dressed appropriately when she got off Air Force One Sunday on her way to the Grand Canyon.

As the nation grapples with such important issues as the ongoing recession and healthcare reform, NBC's morning show actually spent TWO DAYS days talking about Michelle's shorts.

In case you missed it, here are some of the gushing highlights (videos embedded below the fold with full transcripts): 

Over a video montage of frivolous novelty weddings (drive-through, undersea, and "Elvis as pastor" nuptials) NBC's Lee Cowan asserted that that the institution of marriage is going down hill in a hurry.  In the "Today" show's "Today's Relationships" segment on June 22, Cowan did find one bright spot. The only people standing for a responsible, serious understanding of matrimony it seems, are homosexuals. Proponents of same-sex marriage Cowan said, "are still willing to fight for the very institution; defining marriage as a source of a national debate right now."

Cowan explained how, when it comes to relationships and marriage, "rekindling seems unnatural and plenty get so bored with marriage, it seems more like a sexless routine than a romance." Yet he did mention, with a hint of incredulity and with the tagline "The Case Against Marriage" floating on the screen underneath him, how "despite the bad wrap" marriage divorce rates are on the decline . People are investing more and more on marriage help books, but not for the children, their love. or morality. The reason is that, "divorce is painful."

NBC's Lee Cowan, on Thursday's "Today" show, giddily highlighted new found photos taken of Barack Obama when he was a freshman at Occidental College and even cooed at a shot of him sitting on an old Goodwill couch, "Humble beginnings!" Cowan interviewed Obama's old college classmate Lisa Jack who took the photographs, because she claimed she was told to get pictures of the then freshman because he "definitely had personality," and added, "He was cute. I mean look at him."

The following Obama puff piece was aired on the May 28, "Today" show:

NATALIE MORALES: Well the President, President Barack Obama is one of the most photographed people in the world but it's never before seen pictures of the President, before he was famous, that are turning heads these days. NBC's Lee Cowan has that story.

File under: “Insular world of the news media.”

Chrysler announced plans to eliminate 789 Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep dealerships across the nation, yet on Thursday night ABC, CBS and NBC all showcased the very same upset Long Island dealer, Jim Anderer of Island Jeep in Lindenhurst, New York, while two other dealers also on the closing list were each featured on two of the three evening newscasts.

ABC's World News and the CBS Evening News both ran soundbites from Stanley Balzekas of Chicago's Balzekas Motor Sales; CBS and the NBC Nightly News gave airtime to Howard Sellz of Big Valley Dodge in the Van Nuys area of Los Angeles.

But only Anderer, who must have had a busy day in front of film crews from the national and local media, earned the triple play on the broadcast networks. Following a piece from Chris Bury in Chicago, ABC's World News ran a “1st Person” segment with Anderer railing against Chrysler. The CBS Evening News put two bites from Anderer in a piece narrated from Atlanta by Mark Strassmann and NBC slid a clip of Anderer into a Nightly News story from Lee Cowan in Los Angeles. | Media Research Center
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Lamestream Media
The media coverage of the more than 800 Taxed Enough Already (TEA) Party protests that took place in all fifty states on April 15 ranged from disdainful dismissal of their nature, significance and import, to outright hostility towards the events and individual participants, to sexual innuendo-based full-on ridicule.

In this summary, we focused on the three major networks - NBC, ABC and CBS, the two left-of-center cable news networks - CNN and MSNBC and the three major "national" newspapers - the USA Today, the New York Times and the Washington Post.

While not an exhaustively comprehensive oeuvre of TEA Party bias, it contains many, many examples which serve to illustrate the broader antipathetic themes.

To wit:

The broadcast network evening newscasts on Wednesday provided prominent coverage of the “Tea Party” rallies across the nation with time for the views of participants, but they tried to discredit the protests as a front for “corporate interests” or a “fistful of rightward leaning Web sites” -- a concern for motives and hidden agendas the same programs lacked when championing the 2006 pro-illegal immigrant marches. All three also cited polls to undermine the premise the public shares the concerns on taxes and spending espoused by the “tea party” protesters.

“Cheered on by Fox News and talk radio, the hundreds of tea parties today were designed to protest the bailouts, the stimulus plan, and President Obama's budget,” Dan Harris explained on ABC before asserting: “But critics on the left say this is not a real grassroots phenomenon at all, that it's actually largely orchestrated by people fronting for corporate interests.” Harris proceeded to argue that “while the Boston Tea Party in 1773 was about taxation without representation, critics point out that today's protesters did get to vote -- they just lost. What's more, polls show most Americans don't feel overtaxed.”

CBS's Dean Reynolds noted a tea party organizer “insisted these events were non-partisan,” but, Reynolds maintained as if it were an embarrassment, “a fistful of rightward leaning Web sites and commentators embraced the cause.” Reynolds stressed how “it's important to keep in mind that fresh polling indicates there is not all that much passion about high taxes in the country at large right now. Gallup this week found 61 percent of Americans see their federal income taxes as fair.” (What percent surveyed even pay income taxes?)

The inauguration of the first African-American president is an historic affair, one that should be properly celebrated by all. But when the so-called "objective" network anchors begin comparing a routine political ceremony to a spiritual awakening, have they gone too far?

"Sacred." "Majesty." "Sacrament."  "Pilgrimage." These are words loaded with religious and spiritual meaning. And they're words used to describe the inauguration of President Barack Obama by CBS, NBC and ABC anchors on their evening and mornings news shows.

On Monday's inaugural edition of the "NBC Nightly News," well known Obama fan Lee Cowan made no effort to restrain his fawning over the new president, likening the experience of watching the Democrat's speech to being in a "political cathedral." After featuring clips of people viewing the address all over the country, Cowan cooed, "In the end, though, it really didn't matter where you were as long as you weren't alone." (audio excerpt available here)

He added, "Just ordinary street corners like this one here in Chicago fell silent, almost becoming a political cathedral of sorts." Cowan, the man who once announced that covering Barack Obama made his "knees quake," closed the segment by rhapsodizing, "And almost everyone was making that mental scrapbook, noting the time and place where they were on this day and, perhaps, shared a collective tear." It was, he said, "An event meant to be remembered and one meant to be shared."

The Media Research Center today announced its Best Notable Quotables of 2008: The 21st Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting, and MSNBC's Chris Matthews "won" the dubious honor of Quote of the Year for gushing over a Barack Obama speech back in February: "I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don't have that too often….And that is an objective assessment."

Top runner-up for Quote of the Year went to Reuters for this ridiculous post-election headline: "Media bias largely unseen in U.S. presidential race."

MRC President Brent Bozell offered this comment: "Year after year, the liberal media outdo themselves in providing conservatives the sheer joy of laughing at their own words. The year of the Obama Paparazzi was no different, as they salivated over their savior and did everything in their power to crush conservatives. And we wonder why Americans don't trust the media."

Certainly delivering a unique take on the Blagojevich case, in a Thursday night story on why Illinois politics are so corrupt, NBC reporter Lee Cowan characterized the Governor of Illinois as a politician who “fell victim” to Chicago's political machine. Apparently, corruption was just irresistible. Cowan contended:
The Windy City is a political stew of characters, a cast of players that even Hollywood would envy. Governor Rod Blagojevich is just the latest squeaky wheel in Chicago's political machine. Although he promised to be different, he fell victim, prosecutors allege, to history.
Presumably, Cowan didn't intend to assign his own characterization – “victim” -- to prosecutors, and just meant that prosecutors allege Blagojevich has taken the same path as too many of his predecessors. Cowan followed with a soundbite from a local reporter, who explained: “If there isn't a deal behind the scenes, it almost makes life not worthwhile.”

The three broadcast networks started their evening newscasts on Tuesday with stories on Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's arrest and corruption charges. All of the newscasts mentioned Blagojevich's Democratic affiliation, but only in passing. And, only ABC's World News questioned the details about the Illinois Governor's relationship with President-elect Barack Obama, while NBC and CBS brushed over the President-elect's connections with Blagojevich and seemed content to end their investigation of this relationship by reporting on Obama's statement that he was not aware of what was going on.

ABC and NBC both identified Blagojevich as a Democrat early in their reports. NBC "Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams's introduction to the report by Lee Cowan described the charge as "that the two-term Democratic governor tried to sell a seat in the US Senate to the highest bidder." Brian Ross, reporting for ABC's "World News," identified the Illinois governor as "the boyish looking Democrat branded a greedy, foul mouth politician who tried to sell a US Senate seat to the highest bidder."

The CBS "Evening News," however, did not identify Blagojevich as a Democrat until the very end of Dean Reynolds's report when an on-screen graphic identified the governor as "(D) Illinois" and Reynolds claimed that "fellow Democrats worry that whoever he might pick could wind up tainted politically and could ultimately cost the party a valuable seat in Congress."

If Rod Blagojevich were a Republican, what's the over-under on the number of times the network morning shows would have mentioned that fact in their coverage today?

But Blago is a Democrat.  So how often did Today, Good Morning America and the Early Show explicitly identify him as such during their opening half-hours today?  Not once.  The closest any came were references at Today and Early Show today to "Democratic politics" and one at GMA to "the Democratic Chicago machine."  Speaking of GMA, George Stephanopoulos, appearing there, put in the most embarrassingly sycophantish performance of the morning.