Thursday, September 15, 2011

Drudge Report Gets It Wrong

First Lady as Food Police? Mrs. Obama lauds "splurging" during Let's Move!-Darden Restaurants announcement...
Drudge Report featured First Lady Michelle Obama above its banner all day Thursday, following the announcement of the Darden Restaurants-Let's Move! partnership. There were two different versions of the visual attack, linking to different stories. Both headlines referenced what's become a common theme for Mrs. Obama's critics: That the First Lady is the Food Police, and trying to create a Nanny State that bans certain foods with her childhood obesity campaign. The first headline of the day is above. The second version of Drudge's attack had a different photo with the headline "Adult Supervision For Fries!"

Neither story that Drudge linked to was inflammatory, unless you're Drudge. The new commitment from Darden is in no way an effort to ban foods, but rather an effort to make the 400 million meals the corporation serves annually healthier by trimming sodium and calories, and offering kids' meals with fruit and vegetables as "default" sides, rather than French fries. Drudge created its first headline because the AP story that was linked to noted "No more French fries for the little ones unless an adult asks for them."

The second headline linked to this story in the Boston Herald. (Above, the second Drudge headline)

It should be noted that Mrs. Obama has publicly declared French fries to be her favorite food--multiple times. And during her announcement on Thursday, Mrs. Obama, in what seemed to be a preemptive strike to this kind of criticism, defended Americans' right to splurge.

"There is nothing wrong with occasionally splurging on treats and desserts, right? I mean, that’s the fun of being a kid," Mrs. Obama said. "And quite frankly, it’s the fun of being human. And I certainly have done my share of splurging. I splurge. It’s a good thing."

Balance and moderation...
The First Lady's campaign is about balance and moderation, something she has repeated frequently, and which she re-iterated on Thursday.

"We do have to teach them [kids] about balance and moderation. I talk about that all the time in my household," Mrs. Obama said. "You can have a treat, just not every day. It’s important to have cake; you can’t have cake every day."

Physical movement is as much a part of the Let's Move! campaign as is healthy eating. That's why Mrs. Obama does things like hula hoop on the South Lawn, and travel to New York for a junior tennis clinic at the US Open.

First Lady regards criticism as "spin"
Drudge Report is the kind of thing Mrs. Obama has learned to ignore during the course of the Let's Move! campaign, she told her print pool reporters in February. Mrs. Obama said that she doesn't have time to register what critics like Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, and Rush Limbaugh say; all have "dined out" on criticizing Let's Move!. Each has very publicly insisted that Mrs. Obama wants to control what parents feed their children, and suggested this includes things like dessert bans and outlawing French fries. Less well-known critics have parroted the criticism.

Mrs. Obama said she regards the criticism as media spin, and called it "predictable," as well as a fact of life for residents of the White House.

"There's a different conversation that goes on in the media and in real life on the ground," Mrs. Obama said. "And my experience is, when I go out and I’m in a school and I’m in a church or I’m in Tucson or on a military base, is that people are appreciative of the work that we do."

When asked what her response to her critics is, the First Lady chuckled.

"Let's Move!" Mrs. Obama said.

UPDATE, Friday, Sept. 16: First Lady still on Drudge
Mrs. Obama remained on Drudge all day on Friday, but the story had been moved to below the banner, to the middle of the right-hand column. Drudge also featured a headline about President Obama serving homebrewed beer to Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer. The screenshot, above.