Over the course of two programs, ABC on Tuesday devoted 38 fawning minutes of time to Michelle Obama and her new book, American Grown. Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts, who admitted getting a “chill” during her last interview with Barack Obama, happily announced that “everybody [on GMA] is on their best behavior” during the First Lady’s visit.
Roberts’s interview with the First Lady stretched for 13 minutes and included penetrating questions about Obama’s “great admiration for Beyonce.” Mrs. Obama appeared on The View for 25 minutes. Supposedly serious journalist Barbara Walters repeatedly wondered whether “racism will be a part of this campaign.”
GMA’s Roberts-host kicked off the segment by gushing over the fact that Michelle Obama came to the studio: “Usually we have to go to your house. You’re on our turf right now…And everybody is on their best behavior.”
The GMA co-host did offer a solitary tough question, wondering about the First Lady’s healthy eating crusade: “[Some people] feel it’s all part of big government. How do you respond to that?”
In 2008, GMA featured town halls with candidates Hillary Clinton and John Edwards. Sixty four minutes were devoted to these Democrats and zero to Republicans. In 2012, ABC failed to offer a town hall to a GOP contender.
So, 38 minutes in one day for Mrs. Obama should not be a surprise.
Roberts has a history of fawning over Michelle Obama. Yet, the journalist talked to Laura Bush on October 22, 2007. She challenged, “Desmond Tutu went even farther, saying the generosity of Americans, that’s what we should export instead of our bombs.”
Roberts also lectured Mrs. Bush, informing her that New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman believes America “should export hope instead of fear.”
A transcript of the May 29 GMA segment can be found below:
ROBERTS: We are delighted to have First Lady Michelle Obama here live in our studios today. She has a brand-new book out. It is called American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America. It is a beautiful book and all proceeds go to the National Park Foundation. Has an important message about the healthy foods we should eat as she continues her fight against the epidemic of childhood obesity in this country. Good morning, Mrs. Obama.
MICHELLE OBAMA: I am happy to be in the studio. I’ve never been here before.
ROBERTS: Usually we have to go to your house. You’re on our turf right now.
OBAMA: I came to you. Thank you so much. I’m so happy to be here.
ROBERTS: And everybody is on their best behavior.
OBAMA: They’re well dressed too. Kind of, sort of.
ROBERTS: Even my producer has her pearls on today. You never wear pearls, Emily! But it is a privilege to have you here and you have so much that’s going on as always and this book is a passion of yours. It’s a passion project.
OBAMA: It is and it turned out exactly as I envisioned. It’s a beautiful book, wonderful pictures, it really tells the story of not just our garden but what folks are doing in communities all across this country. But it is definitely a passion. You know, getting our kids in this country eating healthy, helping families make good choices about how they eat and stay active and this book is a way to talk about our journey but also talk about the challenges we face as a nation around health and what we can do to move forward on some of these issues.
ROBERTS: As we said, all proceeds go to the National Park Foundation.
ROBERTS: The White House is a national park.
OBAMA: It is.
ROBERTS: And you weren’t sure if you would be able to have a garden there, were you?
OBAMA: I absolutely was not. I mean, as we were moving through the campaign, the idea of nutrition being at one of my issues and children’s nutrition and I thought wouldn’t it be amazing to plant a vegetable garden in the White House? But I had no idea whether or not you could dig up some dirt in the south lawn and actually plant anything. So the minute we came to the White House, we started having conversations with the national park services and all the folks who have been a part of the garden and the answers throughout were yes, yes, absolutely, yes and, you know, months in we started digging. We brought some kids over and we now have more than 1100 square feet of vegetables growing and we’ve got and we’ve had hundreds of kids coming to help us harvest and plant. It’s just been more than I could ever have imagined.
ROBERTS: These are pictures from the book. Their face, they just light as they’re seeing things growing. And we’re going have some of the kids a little bit later. All part of your movement to get kids moving.
ROBERTS: But you know there are critics who say, wait a minute, don’t need government telling me or telling my children what they should eat or should not eat.
ROBERTS: They feel it’s all part of big government. How do you respond to that?
OBAMA: You know, that’s not really what Let’s Move has ever been about. We know that there are many reasons why we’re in this dilemma with our children. One in three of our kids are overweight or obese. So there is an issue. But this isn’t about government telling people what to do. What we know we need to do is give parents, community, families the tools and information they need to make choices that are right for them and there’s no one size fits all solution. I experienced that myself as a mom. Really trying to figure out in a hectic life how do you take the time to cook a meal? How do you afford it if you don’t have accessible affordable food in your community? How do you get your kids active in a culture where they’re spending 7.5 hours a day in front of a screen? I mean, these are modern problems and challenges and many families aren’t aware of them. It kind of sneaks up on you and they don’t know how to tackle it. So, Let’s Move is a way of giving people the tools and information and it really requires everybody to step up. We need our mayors stepping up, restructuring cities so that kids have safer places to play. We need our food manufacturers stepping up and really thinking about how to reformulate food products so that they are a little more healthy.
ROBERTS: And affordable.
OBAMA: And affordable. Yeah, we need big super markets to locate grocery stores in under served communities. So, it’s a little bit of everything. Exercise is a key of all of this. We’ve got to get our kids up and moving and we’ve got to make it fun.
ROBERTS: I saw your kids up and moving at the Beyonce concert over the weekend.
OBAMA: Oh, yeah. We got a little movement in there.
ROBERTS: Very much so. And you said if you could be anyone, that you had great admiration for Beyonce.
OBAMA: Well, anybody who’s got talent I’m all for, but, you know, Beyonce has just been a tremendous supporter of Let’s Move. I mean, without asking, she reformulated Move Your Body to do a flash mob for kids across this country and I visited a middle school when we launched — kicked it off. A middle school in D.C. the entire middle school class was up and dancing. They had spent weeks learning this video and, oh, yeah, there we go.
ROBERTS: [Video of Mrs. Obama dancing.] Of course, we’re going to show that.
OBAMA: Right. But this was happening all across the country, all around the world and, you know, Beyonce stepped up in a way that so many of our celebrities and athletes are stepping up on behalf of this issue so I love her to death. And was glad to be out there moving my body with her.