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Michelle Uses the Media for Target Practice

As most of you probably know, Michelle Obama headed out to Target the other day for a “regular folks” shopping excursion. But unlike most regular folks, an Associated Press photographer somehow showed up to catch the moment.

The APcommenting to POLITICO, attributed the presence of the photographer to “good source work.” The problem with this is that news photographers don’t do reporting and don’t have sources – they show up for events and take pictures. Someone from the first lady’s office must have either directly or through some surrogate tipped off the AP or its photographer.

Placing the first lady an public, uncontrolled situation is a very delicate security matter. There is no way this would leak out to the Associated Press without her office providing the tip with the intention that she be photographed there.

This is a situation that presents a major difficulty for journalists. You are clearly being used by your subject, but it is impossible to resist the news value of the event. In deciding whether to cover it, you have to weigh the relative importance of the event against the obvious manipulation.

You almost always have to err on the side of coverage. A first lady shopping at Target is not the fall of the Berlin Wall, but it is news. And what if she dropped a glass bottle of grape juice and you weren’t on hand to take the shot?

Adding to the misery of the compromise AP likely made is that there must have been some kind of agreement not to tell any AP reporters about the excursion – they surely would have wanted to come along. And likely too a deal for for the photographer to take the picture at the end of Mrs. Obama’s visit, since we only have photos of her at the cashier.

Since becoming first lady, Michelle has experienced a quite successful image makeover, morphing from a candidate’s wife with low approval ratings who had never been proud of her country into a popular first lady devoted to helping military families and making kids thin.

Her Achilles Heel has been her visible predilection for the finer things in life, even as the country wallows in a painful recession that her husband can’t fix. She’s taken expensive vacations and semi-vacations to places like Spain and South Africa, with taxpayers having to pick up many of the costs. And she’s frequently seen decked out in jewelry and clothes costing several aisles worth of Target stuff.

So this was a PR stunt. Merely the choice of AP suggests a PR stunt. Using the AP is the quickest and most efficient way to circulate the photo around the country.

And it metastasized across the media. Take a look at this fawning coverage by NBC, which includes a pro forma mention of her exorbitant tastes but focuses mainly on what the White House wants – an average mom goes shopping.

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Hats off the the the First Lady’s communications team. They understand their problem, and they know how to use a fawning press to get a solution.

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36 Responses to Michelle Uses the Media for Target Practice

  1. What gets me is we all know the AP was tipped off but look at her face, the righteous indignation of being caught out at Target. Like “can’t I just have a moment to myself!”

    ARGH!!

    • He says, ‘Michelle, this isn’t right. We have to fix this. We have so much more to do,’” she told the crowd.

      Translation: So many lobsters, so little time.

  2. Popular? is that what they think MrsO is with the public? My, oh, my, talk about delusional thinking at the WhiteHouse.

    The sham at Target was disgraceful, dishonest and insulting to everyone in America. She doesn’t shop there, she didn’t just pop in to pick up a few things; no, it was planned to diffuse the outrage and anger directed toward her for her extravagant exesses using our tax dollars for her own purposes. The recent exess would be the trip to Oregon, the lavish Martha’sVineyard vacation with a separate plane for her, the sham visits to military bases to cover for her fundraising events, and just recently, the $40,000 “borrowed” bracelets she wore to the CBC affair.

    Good for the AP photog, he got an exclusive. Too bad that there are no reporters to comment on the advance Security team that cleaned out the store prior to MrsO’s visit, that Target has a standing policy of no media reporting without prior approval, that GeorgeSoros just bought 500,000 shares of Target stock, or that MrsO bypassed several Targets to “shop” in Virginia.
    And what did our sacrificin’ FirstLady buy at this discount store? the official response: doggie treats.
    Just how stupid does this administration think the voters are?

  3. Yes, this was a setup from the start.

    I find it odd that there has not been a report as to what she purchased. She did pay for it herself, right? Anyway, how often do we need to endure what she wears and the style of hers to the point we are nauseated. But not a word on what she bought?

    Where did she get those cloths she wore? I can not imagine that those can be found in her closet.

    I’m sure that they all got a big laugh out of this in the East Wing.

  4. Obama just happened to mention how much Michelle loves to shop at Target during his Philadelphia radio interview on Friday. Yep…it was a set up.

  5. Stumbled across this story from across the pond–what do you all think?

    “Days after Michelle Obama’s Target visit, First Lady favourite Jason Wu announces collaboration with retail giant”
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2044736/Jason-Wu-Target-Michelle-Obamas-favourite-designer-announces-collaboration.html

    Maybe she wasn’t really there to buy Lysol but a new outfit for an upcoming vacation (is she going with BHO to Bali in November???) Probably needed to pick up some flip flops for future vaca’s!!!

    • Wonder how much moolah the Target executives had to pony up for that sweet promotion deal? Believe me, the drones are swooning over Michelle’s visit to Target. Think I’ll do some searching on OpenSecrets…

  6. What a phony! Rush was correct. She did buy a Lysol product…looked like wipes to me.
    The slobbery media just contines to amaze me
    It has been such a change from real ladies like Laura and Barbara Bush…not easy for some of us.

    • I wonder if one of her staff had to create a shopping list for her, you know, so she would pick up “everyday” stuff. I find it highly unlikely that this woman has done her own shopping – other than clothes and jewelry – any time in the last 20 years. Lysol and food for the dog…right…like that hasn’t been purchased a hundred times before by some other lowly staffer. If you’re going to stage a photo-op and try to manipulate the masses, at least try to make it appear a smidge convincing.

  7. What a bunch of HORSECRAP!
    She was in Target for 40 minutes and only managed “to Buy dog food and Treats for Bo!” Obviously, on top of everything else, the woman can’t make a decision either!
    Somehow I doubt she’s ever intentionally gone to a Target store since her husband has was first elected as a senator.

  8. “quite successful image makeover”

    I try to keep up, but i missed that one. I suspect it’s only in the eyes of the true obozo supporters.