first lady so captured public attention and respectful coverage by
much of the press. Unlike Jackie, Michelle Obama has got social media.
WASHINGTON — Will history judge first lady Michelle Obama to be a
social media pioneer? We ask that because either Mrs. Obama herself or
someone on her staff is doing a good job using new networked forms of
communication to create positive publicity that reflects back on the
White House itself.
Case in point: On Thursday, the first lady’s FLOTUS Twitter feed
joined in the popular meme #ThrowbackThursday and tweeted out an
arresting photo of Michelle and Barack in their early days together.
The pair is hugging; she’s staring directly at the camera, while he’s
sort of squinting and looking aside, as if he’s thinking about stuff,
like becoming president, or maybe how long it is ‘til lunch.
Retweets piled up. The photo went up on her Instagram account, too,
where it was a huge hit, with more than 50,000 “hearts” in a day.
Yes, Ann Romney Instagrams, too, and did so during the 2012 campaign.
It isn’t as if Michelle Obama is the only spouse of a national
politician to venture into the world beyond Facebook. But she works
them all together, linking it up with her appearances on non-hard-news
television shows such as “Ellen” to produce an overall media strategy
that bypasses the traditional media filter.
Even headlines about her are acquiring a new media sheen. On Friday,
Politico’s Jennifer Epstein wrote a piece titled “Michelle Obama’s
YOLO moment.” (That’s “you only live once,” in Twitter-speak.) The
story’s premise was that the first lady, with her husband reelected,
was enjoying lots of seize-the-moment experiences, such as lunching
with U-2 frontman Bono, scolding hecklers, and posting decades-old
“For this first lady, the second term is YOLO territory,” writes Ms. Epstein.
But here’s another question: Is Michelle Obama able to do all this
without real scrutiny because the media are too easy on her?
In this regard, Politico’s “YOLO” story may have been the last straw
for some conservatives. They feel it symbolizes the light-weight and
credulous approach of much coverage of Mrs. Obama and her activities.
“Has any First Lady since Jackie Kennedy received press coverage as
worshipful as Michelle Obama?” tweeted the plugged-in, right-leaning
Byron York, chief political correspondent of the Washington Examiner,
Mr. York linked to a Politico slide show of first-lady magazine covers
that showed Mrs. Obama in glamorous poses.
Others on the right grumbled about the uncritical reception of the
first lady’s “Kids’ State Dinner” this week, where she entertained
winners of a school lunch healthy recipe contest.
It’s one thing to cover an event where one category of winner seemed
to be “lettuce cups,” and another to ignore that many kids just don’t
want to eat that stuff, in this view.
As a “Daily Caller” story noted earlier this week, one New York State
school district has decided to withdraw from a first lady-backed
national school lunch program because the nutritional guidelines
resulted in hungry students.
“The high schoolers especially complained the portion sizes were too
small, and many more students brought in lunch from home,” said Nicky
Boehm, food service manager for the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake school
district, according to the Daily Caller.