Fox & Friends on Michelle Obama's comments: "The Claws Come Out"

››› ››› JULIE MILLICAN

Fox News' Gretchen Carlson asserted that Michelle Obama was "taking off the gloves and letting loose the claws" in making what "some say ... is a personal attack on Hillary Clinton." Later, co-host Brian Kilmeade stated that Obama "said ... 'If you can't run your own house, then you can't run the White House.' " Kilmeade then asserted, "Many people are saying that she's talking about Hillary Clinton." And on-screen text said, "The Claws Come Out: Mrs. Obama Aims at Sen. Clinton." But Kilmeade and Carlson did not provide the rest of Obama's quote, in which she talked about herself and her family -- not any other candidate -- referring to their efforts to balance campaigning and family life and ensure that their children will continue to "come first."

During the August 22 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, while teasing a segment on recent comments by Michelle Obama, wife of Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (IL), during a campaign stop, co-host Gretchen Carlson asserted that Michelle Obama was "taking off the gloves and letting loose the claws" in making what "some say ... is a personal attack on [Sen.] Hillary Clinton [D-NY]." Later, co-host Brian Kilmeade stated that Michelle Obama "said ... 'If you can't run your own house, then you can't run the White House.' " Kilmeade then asserted, "Many people are saying that she's talking about Hillary Clinton." During the segment, the on-screen text said, "The Claws Come Out: Mrs. Obama Aims at Sen. Clinton"; "Mrs. Obama vs. Sen. Clinton: Cheap Shot or Fair Territory?"; and finally "Darts Flying: Michelle Obama Heats Up the Campaign Trail." But Kilmeade and Carlson did not provide the rest of Obama's quote. In fact, after making the statement that Kilmeade quoted, she immediately went on to discuss her own family -- not other candidates -- and the efforts she and Barack Obama were making to ensure that their children will continue to "come first," as Media Matters for America has previously noted.

Kilmeade asked Democratic strategist and Fox News contributor Susan Estrich whether Michelle Obama's remarks were "something that Barack Obama is happy about? Do you look at this as an attack on Hillary Clinton?" Estrich responded: "[T]he funny thing is that the day started with [Internet gossip Matt] Drudge saying 'Obama's wife slams Clinton,' question mark, and by midday it was clear that this was a line from her stump speech. She'd been using it for a long time, and it referred to the fact that the two Obamas are trying to put their two daughters first ... even in the context of a campaign."

Indeed, as Media Matters has noted, after stating, "Our view is that if you can't run your own house, you certainly can't run the White House," Michelle Obama continued: "[S]o we've adjusted our schedules to make sure that our girls are first, so while he's [Barack Obama] traveling around, I do day trips" in order to be "home before bedtime." Marc Ambinder, associate editor of The Atlantic, wrote that one "recurring theme of her stump speech" is "the hard choices she and Sen. Obama have had to make about their work/family balance." The Obama campaign has since denied that Michelle Obama was attacking Clinton in her remarks.

Nevertheless, Kilmeade followed up on Estrich's comments by turning to Republican strategist Jennifer Millerwise Dyke and stating: "Right, but Jennifer, the words say a lot, don't they?" Millerwise Dyke claimed that "it sounded like very coordinated words by Mrs. Obama. ... I wouldn't be surprised at all if you saw that they [the Obama campaign] were also using her strategically to do a thinly veiled attack, as you saw yesterday."

Throughout the segment the on-screen text alternated among various statements, all of which suggested or asserted that Michelle Obama was attacking Clinton:

When she was teasing the segment, Carlson stated: "Some say what she said is a personal attack on Hillary Clinton. You have to hear it for yourself, and then make up your own mind." But at no point did Fox & Friends air the full context of Michelle Obama's remarks. The segment ended with Millerwise Dyke asserting: "But I think at the end of the day the question is does someone vote for someone based on who their spouse is, and the answer is no. If that were the case, Bill Clinton would have never been elected to begin with."

Below is the full transcript of Michelle Obama's remarks, according to blogger Greg Sargent:

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.

From the August 22 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:

CARLSON: Also coming up on the show, Barack Obama's wife, taking off the gloves and letting loose the claws. Some say what she said is a personal attack on Hillary Clinton. You have to hear it for yourself, and then make up your own mind.

[...]

KILMEADE: This is what Michelle Obama, Mrs. Barack Obama, said -- well, over in Iowa on August 16, says, "If you can't run your own house, you can't run the White House." Many people are saying she is talking about Hillary Clinton, the person leading the Democratic race for the nomination. Susan Estrich, Democratic strategist, Fox News contributor. Jennifer Millerwise Dyke, former Bush-Cheney communications director. Susan, is this something that Barack Obama is happy about? Do you look at this as an attack on Hillary Clinton?

ESTRICH: Well, you know, the funny thing is that the day started with Drudge saying "Obama wife slams Clinton," question mark. And by midday, it was clear that this was a line from her stump speech. She'd been using it for a long time, and it referred to the fact that the Obamas are trying to put their two daughters first --

KILMEADE: But Jennifer, the words --

ESTRICH: -- even in the context of a campaign.

KILMEADE: Right, that's fine. Jennifer, but the words say a lot, don't they?

MILLERWISE DYKE: They do. And the fact is, good campaigns do not put spouses out there without determining exactly what they're going to say. And in this case, it sounded like very coordinated words by Mrs. Obama. And this isn't the first time that the Obama campaign has used her very strategically, and I think they've used her very smartly to say things about her husband. You know, a lot of people are talking about this great Barack Obama, but I live with a guy who leaves socks on his floor and I'm wondering if it's the same person. She can give an insight and add some personality to him that no one else can, so I wouldn't be surprised at all if you saw that they were also using her strategically to do a thinly veiled attack, as you saw yesterday.

[...]

KILMEADE: Jennifer, did Teresa Heinz Kerry hurt John Kerry? Did it help your campaign?

MILLERWISE DYKE: She certainly did not help him, and I do think she actually gave us some real openings, some of the things that she would say. You never actually saw our campaign ever talking about Teresa Heinz Kerry in any way but a positive, and I don't think that you're going to find any of the campaigns today going out and attacking, for example, Elizabeth Edwards. But the fact is, you can strategically use a spouse, and we were able to strategically use Mrs. Bush to say things in a way, in a very lighthearted but very strategic way that no one else could say. And it really can get to the heart of the matter. But I think, at the end of the day, the question is, does someone vote for someone based on who their spouse is? And the answer is no. If that were the case, Bill Clinton would have never been elected to begin with.

Posted In
Diversity & Discrimination, Gender
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Brian Kilmeade
Show/Publication
FOX & Friends
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
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