Earlier, we noted how Time typed up an excited dispatch about how folks in England were supposedly all in a tizzy because Michelle Obama broke protocol and touched the Queen of England during their meeting. Turns out Inside Edition did what journalists are supposed to do; it made a few calls and got a quote from somebody in a position to know about the (non) story.
A spokesman for Buckingham Palace tells Inside Edition that "it's obvious that it was a mutual sign of affection and appreciated between the queen and Michelle Obama. There is no offense. The reception was an informal occasion. There's no breach of protocol."
Jake Tapper Twitters a defense of the media's obsessive focus on unimportant fluff like Barack Obama giving the Queen an iPod:
for angry libs complaining about the iPod story: who do you think is sharing this info about the iPod? u think we broke into buckingham?
Presumably, Tapper means that the White House told reporters about the gift.
Uh ... So?
Either Tapper thinks the role of a journalist is to dutifully report whatever the administration wants him to report, or he thinks that liberal media critics want the media to dutifully report whatever the administration tells them.
Either way, he's wrong. The former is wrong for reasons that are (hopefully) self-explanatory. So let's give him the benefit of the doubt, and assume that Tapper means that he expects liberals to be happy that he's reporting something the Obama White House told him - and not that he personally thinks "the White House told me to" is a compelling reason to treat the iPod as the biggest news story in the world.
I can't speak for all "angry libs," but what Tapper seems not to understand is that few, if any, liberal media critics think the media should simply report anything handed to them on a presidential spoon - even if the president in question is a Democrat.
This attitude isn't unique to Tapper. I've seen more than a few journalists respond to criticism from progressives by saying something similar - that their report reflects what Democratic sources told them. That's a valid response when the criticism is that the report omitted a Democratic viewpoint. But when the criticism is that the report is false, or flawed in some other way, "hey, we're just reporting what Democrats tell us" isn't a meaningful defense.
When president Bush traveled to Mexico in February of 2001, marking his first foreign trip as POTUS, guess what gifts Bush gave to the family of Mexico President Vincente Fox? Keep in mind, Obama is being ridiculed today for giving the Queen of England an iPod that, among other things, included audio for some of his speeches. (i.e. Self-centered, much?!)
Well, here, according to a February 17, 2001 dispatch from the Forth Worth Star-Telegram, is what Bush gave his host [emphasis]:
After a few minutes of light conversation--Bush spoke English and Fox translated--Bush presented [Fox's mother] with two gifts. The first, a glass frame from Neiman Marcus, contained a photo of Bush and wife, Laura, dressed in formal wear. The second gift was a dark green textile throw. [She] responded in English, saying 'Thank you' twice.
If your memory is that the press couldn't have cared less about the gift exchange in 2001, you're absolutely correct.
It's about the First Lady's sky-high approval ratings. Here's the Politico headline:
First, "recovery" implies that Obama's public perception has rebounded; that she was recently unpopular and now she's the opposite. (i.e. recovery: "a return to a normal condition.") But here's the Gallup graphic that accompanies the article, note the steady ascension, not a "recovery":
Second, there's this Politico announcement:
Her transformation in the public eye is one of David Axelrod's great successes, and really a remarkable thing.
Americans really like Michelle Obama, so Politico, without hesitation, credits a (male) White House adviser for making that happen. Shouldn't Michelle get at least some of the credit for her White House success?
She was, for a moment, a serious vulnerability for the campaign.
We can't remember at any point when Michelle Obama was a "serious" vulnerability for the campaign. And while Politico mentions a couple passing controversies from the two-year White House trek, Politico never provides any hard evidence that Barack Obama was seriously weighed down during his campaign because Michelle was his wife.
FYI: Back in June 2008, Michelle Obama was viewed more favorably by more Americans than was Cindy McCain.
From the Times' Helene Cooper, traveling with Obama in London:
Is President Obama trying to muzzle his press corps?
A rather loaded/provocative charge, no? Cooper's basis for making the claim? We'll let Politico's Michael Calderone explain:
So what did the president do? Well, during today's joint presser, Gordon Brown took four questions but Barack Obama only took three! Yes, that's it.
Oy. We tend to agree with the conclusion posted by Times reader Greg, who wrote:
Please, stop your whining Ms. Cooper. "They" got one more question than we did? And it was a softball at that? I love the Times and respect its coverage but this posting is juvenile.
I know, my head hurts too, reading the 'coverage.' (I'm waiting for some reporter to combine the gift 'story' with a detailed description of what Michelle Obama was wearing when she gave the Queen of England the gift.)
Aside from the fact that key facts have been omitted by the press, the 'story' reeks of double standards because I don't remember any detailed coverage of the gifts Bush gave dignitaries over the years. Plus, Obama is being mocked, in part, for being a narcissist by including some of his speeches on the Queen's iPod. That's why this part made us chuckle, from Politico:
As for the queen, she gave the Obamas a signed photo of herself and her husband in a silver frame. But she had it easier than Obama — that's the same thing she always gives visiting dignitaries.
Is that an appropriate gift? It certainly seems so. But imagine the media reaction if Obama had given the queen a signed photo of himself.
UPDATE: More overseas 'reporting,' courtesy of Time's migraine-inducing dispatch about how Michelle Obama appeared to touch the Queen for "just a second or two." Time tells us that's a protocol no-no:
The rules are set in stone, and so the eagerly watching British media sputtered when the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, briefly put her hand on the back of Queen Elizabeth II as the two chatted at a reception.
The British media "sputtered," Time relayed. But Time didn't bother to, y'know, actually quote any sputtering examples from the British media. Readers just have to trust Time. Same here:
Still, the sight of anyone apparently touching the Queen with anything more than a limp handshake is enough to send the British (or traditionalists in the old Commonwealth) twittering.
Did the British twitter after Obama appeared to touch the Queen for "just a second or two"? Again, Time doesn't quote anybody to suggest they did. We're supposed to trust Time's judgment. But considering the fact that the article itself is an embarrassment, from premise to execution, that's hard for us to do.
UPDATE: From a CF reader in the comment section:
If I may chime in from the UK. Saw that Michelle Obama put her hand on the Queen's back last night on the BBC news. It was like, 5 seconds of the 10 o'clock news, and the brief comment from the Beeb reporter was to say how unmoved the Queen was when it happened.
UPDATE: More breaking giftgate news here.
From Minnesota Public Radio today [emphasis added]:
Though it looks like Norm Coleman will not prevail before the three-judge panel hearing the Senate election case, the battle is far from over. Coleman's side took a hit Tuesday when the panel said it would consider counting only up to 400 more votes. Coleman quickly announced plans to appeal. But is Coleman risking looking like a sore loser?
It's a start.
We clipped this video yesterday, mostly to highlight the part where Beck claims the government "is a heroin pusher using smiley-faced fascism to grow the nanny state." The larger context was that Beck, loyally following Drudge's lead, was making fun of a new online government initiative, overseen by the Dept. of Health and Human Services, to help Americans deal with the additional stress that's accompanied the painful economic recession.
Beck thinks that's pathetic and it's part of the larger "Nanny State" meme the right-wing has been pushing. (i.e. How dare the government try to help people!) But here's where Beck just made stuff up [emphasis added]:
We don't need a website. We didn't need one after Oklahoma City. We didn't need one after Columbine. We didn't need one even after 9-11. You know why? Because we had each other.
Hmm, well what do you call this, which was published by the Bush administration's Dept. of Health and Human Services, following the attacks of 9-11:
Mental Health Response to Mass Violence and Terrorism
(h/t No More Mister Nice Blog)
This side show is really becoming quite entertaining to watch. We noted this week the conservative writers and bloggers who were calling out members of the GOP Noise Machine for their completely unhinged reaction to Obama's first days and weeks in office.
Now the far right FrontPageMag is declaring the beloved Obama-wasn't-born-in-Hawaii story is, without question, false:
Obama's birth certificate posted online is exactly the same birth certificate everybody in Hawaii gets from the State Department of Health. It is not forged. There is nothing unusual about the design or the texture...It is time for folks to stop being played by the Obama campaign and drop this counter productive 'phony birth certificate' nonsense.
Just a footnote: Shouldn't this have been written, like, 20 weeks ago?