On Lou Dobbs Tonight, guest host Lisa Sylvester aired a clip of Michelle Obama saying: "Our view is that if you can't run your own house, you certainly can't run the White House." Air America Radio host Laura Flanders later agreed that the comment "was a swipe at Hillary Clinton." Sylvester, however, did not provide Obama's full comments on the topic, in which she talked about her own family and did not refer to another candidate.
On the August 21 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, guest host Lisa Sylvester teased a segment on recent comments by Michelle Obama, wife of Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), by claiming that she "apparently blast[ed] Senator Hillary Clinton [D-NY]." During the segment, Sylvester aired a clip of Mrs. Obama saying: "Our view is that if you can't run your own house, you certainly can't run the White House," and asked Air America Radio host Laura Flanders if the comment "was a swipe at Hillary Clinton." Flanders answered: "Yes, I think it was. I mean, I think we know that from the deadly silence that surrounded the comment from most of the pundits the last couple of days." Sylvester, however, did not provide Mrs. Obama's full comments on the topic, in which she talked about her own family and did not refer generally or specifically to any other candidates. Nor did Sylvester note that Barack Obama has denied that his wife was attacking Clinton.
As Media Matters for America documented, immediately after her comment about the ability to "run your own house," Mrs. Obama went on to discuss measures her family was taking to keep their children "grounded" while campaigning and the efforts the Obamas are making to ensure that their children will continue to "come first." From her August 16 remarks:
MICHELLE OBAMA: That one of the most important things that we need to know about the next President of the United States is, is he somebody that shares our values? Is he somebody that respects family? Is a good and decent person? So our view was that, if you can't run your own house, you certainly can't run the White House. So, so we've adjusted our schedules to make sure that our girls are first, so while he's traveling around, I do day trips. That means I get up in the morning, I get the girls ready, I get them off, I go and do trips, I'm home before bedtime. So the girls know that I was gone somewhere, but they don't care. They just know that I was at home to tuck them in at night, and it keeps them grounded, and, and children, the children in our country have to know that they come first. And our girls do and that's why we're doing this. We're in this race for not just our children, but all of our children.
The Obama campaign denied that Michelle Obama was attacking Clinton or anyone else. According to an August 21 entry on CNN's Political Ticker blog:
The Illinois senator emphatically denied the comments were aimed at his rival and added, "There was no reference beyond her point that we have had an administration that talks a lot about family values but doesn't follow through."
He also noted that his wife often speaks about children and families in her campaign remarks.
Katie McCormick Lelyveld, Michelle Obama's communications director, also told CNN, "the only family Mrs. Obama was talking about was the Obama family."
Earlier on August 21, CNN host Wolf Blitzer similarly omitted Mrs. Obama's full comments while discussing them with Democratic strategist Donna Brazile and Republican strategist John Feehery on CNN's The Situation Room. Blitzer aired the following excerpt from Mrs. Obama's comments: "One of the most important things that we need to know about the next president of the United States is, is he somebody that shares our values? Is he somebody that respects family, is a good and decent person? So our view was that, if you can't run your own house, you certainly can't run the White House." He then asked: "[W]hat do you think? Who was she referring to, because we're trying to read between the lines here."
Brazile denied that Obama attacked anybody, saying, "I don't think he was taking -- she was taking a swipe at the Clintons or the Giulianis or anyone else. She was trying to establish his [Barack Obama's] credentials as a family person." Blitzer said that one could not assume that Mrs. Obama was attacking Clinton, saying that "you could read this and say maybe she is referring to [Republican presidential candidate] Rudy Giuliani, who's had a history of some problems." Nonetheless, on the subsequent show, Flanders asserted that "we know" that Mrs. Obama was referring to Clinton.
From the August 21 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight:
SYLVESTER: And the wife of Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama apparently blasts Senator Hillary Clinton. We'll have the details next.
SYLVESTER: And later, is Senator Barack Obama's wife taking a swipe at Senator Hillary Clinton? We'll have the latest on this new war of words.
SYLVESTER: Did Michelle Obama take a swipe at her husband's primary competition for the Democratic presidential nomination, former first lady Senator Hillary Clinton? Mrs. Obama in Iowa last week said she wanted to travel with her husband to model what it means to have family values. And she added --
MICHELLE OBAMA [video clip]: Our view is that if you can't run your own house, you certainly can't run the White House.
SYLVESTER: Joining me now for more on this and the rest of the current political landscape are three of the country's best radio talk-show hosts. In Washington, Joe Madison of WOL and XM Radio.
SYLVESTER: In Denver, Peter Boyles of KHOW. And here in New York, Laura Flanders of Air America. Laura, let me first start with you. What do you make of those comments that Michelle Obama made? Do you think that that was a swipe at Hillary Clinton?
FLANDERS: Yes, I think it was. I mean, I think we know that from the deadly silence that surrounded the comment from most of the pundits the last couple of days. Don't you wish we had Elizabeth Edwards and Michelle Obama running for president? Wouldn't that be a great day? I mean, these are women with some actual gumption. I'm fine with the swiping, really. People want to talk about houses in order, the only house we really need to keep in order is this country's house. And, you know, we don't want to go back to that kind of swiping, as it were, about the personal whatever in the Clinton family. But the feistiness on the campaign trail, I'm for it.