Right-wing media attack Michelle Obama for fighting childhood obesity

››› ››› SHAUNA THEEL

Conservative media figures are attacking Michelle Obama over her efforts to encourage healthy eating and reduce childhood obesity, baselessly claiming that Americans "will be reported" or be "jail[ed]" for eating french fries.

Fox News figures attack Michelle Obama's efforts to reduce childhood obesity

Beck fearmongers that philosophy behind offering children healthy food choices will lead to riots, imprisonment, and global government. On the September 14 edition of his Fox News show, Glenn Beck suggested that Michelle Obama's initiative would lead to imprisonment for eating french fries:

You're going to have to tax, you're going to have to make it more and more difficult. But when those options don't work, how do you get people to stop eating french fries, because french fries still beat carrots. What's left? Well, now you have to start thinking about punishments -- maybe a fine, maybe even jail. But it always starts with a nudge.

Beck also suggested that the initiative would lead to global government, claiming, "The media's not going to give you the truth on this nudge towards bigger government, and eventually global government, but I will. We've taken it now from french fries to global government." He subsequently theorized that the government would "become a little forceful," saying:

[W]e've just been shown another example this week of nudging with Michelle Obama. It starts with carrots and french fries, over apples, and then it moves into butter, and soon it becomes a shove. Because if you won't do the right thing when you're being gently prodded, they, of course, will -- well, they'll have to become a little forceful. It's for your own good. There's more. We're not to the "friots" yet.

Limbaugh claims that the White House will monitor his show to "report" callers that are "part of the obesity problem." On the September 15 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh responded to a caller who discussed her own diet and claimed that "it won't be long, after that call -- she talked about what food she's going to fix and how she's going to prepare it and where she's going to get it -- that woman will be reported to Michelle Obama. In the not-too-distant future, monitors assigned by the White House to listen to this show will have to report that woman because she is going to be considered a part of the obesity problem in the United States."

Hannity: First lady is "taking the nanny state to a new level." On the September 14 edition of his Fox News show, Sean Hannity said that Michelle Obama was "taking the nanny state to a new level" by "tell[ing] us what to eat" and claimed that we will soon have the government "fining us if we use salt."

Stossel: Healthy food initiative may lead to "the government ... deciding who we'll marry." In a September 14 blog post titled "Michelle Obama and the Food Police," Fox Business Network host John Stossel wrote, "In her latest speech, [Obama] talks about helping grocery stores 'locate in underserved areas...getting healthier food into schools...helping our kids become more active, not just in school but at home.' Sounds like big government to me." Stossel later added, "If the government is allowed to dictate our diet, what's next? Do they start deciding who we'll marry, where we'll work?"

Savage: "'Let them eat carrot sticks,' she says." From the September 13 edition of Talk Radio Network's The Savage Nation:

"Eat as I say, not as I eat," says Michelle Obama. Perhaps the most hypocritical couple in the history of the presidency. Every time we see her, she's on vacation slurping an ice cream cone or eating fries, and then she's lecturing us on healthy choices and eating -- and grow a victory garden. Now, she says she's a fry lover, but for the peons out there, give them carrot sticks. Let them eat carrot sticks, she says. Not the biggest problem on Earth, just indicative of what we're facing in America. First lady, I love french fries.

Mr. Imam in New York -- Mr. Mosque, the imam guy, good imam, bad imam. Good imam, bad imam. Says one thing to us in English with Mr. Meek, Mr. Nice, Mr. Good, Mr. Interfaith Community Dialogue, and then he goes over and speaks in Arabic and says the exact opposite. Mr. Nice, Mr. Bad, Mr. Good Mosque, Mr. Bad Mosque.

I am so sick of this double-talking crap. I wish to God we had leadership.

Fox Nation: "First lady targets freedom fries." On September 14, Fox Nation linked to a CNS News article under the headline "First Lady Targets Freedom Fries."

Media conservatives previously attacked the healthy eating initiative as "cutting into our diets and our rights." When the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity first released its voluntary recommendations, several media conservatives attacked the report. A Fox News teaser for Hannity's May 12 show stated, "No soda. No snacks. No choice? How the first lady's task force on childhood obesity is cutting into our diets and rights." Only a month after the recommendations were released, The Fox Nation ran a June 29 article titled "First Lady's War on Obesity Off to a Bad Start." Michelle Malkin wrote a May 11 blog post titled "Here come Michelle's Obama's food marketing police." Malkin has written several other pieces attacking Michelle Obama over the Let's Move initiative.

Even conservatives have advocated for combating obesity

Hannity himself previously called Michelle Obama's initiative a "great cause" and "a great position for her to take." Discussing Michelle Obama's Let's Move initiative with Fox News contributor Mike Huckabee on the February 19 edition of Hannity, Hannity said, "I might actually -- I think -- no, I know for a fact -- I agree with Michelle Obama." Hannity went on to praise Michelle Obama's cause, saying that it was "a great position for her to take" and calling the initiative "a great cause, to call attention to such a problem." Hannity added, "We've got to get our kids in shape," and said, "I agree we need to fix the problem."

O'Reilly: "[W]ho's going to oppose it?" During the January 11 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly said (from Nexis): "Look, Laura Bush was literacy and childhood reading, all of that. You know, great. Hillary was health care, went down the drain. Not so great. But childhood obesity? I mean, that's -- who's going to oppose trying to have chubby kids slim down? I mean, who's going to oppose it?"

Wash. Post op-ed calls out Malkin and Beck for their "childish" comments attacking anti-obesity initiative. In a February 20 op-ed for The Washington Post, Kevin Huffman wrote:

Michelle Malkin accused the first lady of "playing the national security card" by pointing out that one-third of our military's potential recruits are too fat and out of shape to qualify. (You can imagine how appalled Malkin must have been, since Republicans are so cautious with the national security card.)

Glenn Beck weighed in, too: "This is torn from the pages of the progressive playbook. You're too stupid. You need the government to fix your life . . . They're coming and they are slowly but surely taking away your freedom under the guise of helping you."

Sorry, guys, but someone needs to spell it out: Our kids don't eat well, they don't exercise and, just like their parents, they're getting fat.

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