Michelle Obama’s press agent: Politico reporter accused of flacking for first lady

Politico reporter Amie Parnes is a watchdog, but not in the traditional journalistic sense. Critics say Parnes is a vigilant protector of Michelle Obama’s public image, a beat reporter who acts as a press agent for the official she covers.

Parnes’s fawning coverage of the first lady has inspired Betsy Rothstein of FishbowlDC.com to launch a “Parnes-o-Meter,” which ranks Parnes’s pieces about Michelle Obama on a scale of 1 to 10 kisses. “People have asked me, over and over again, for the past three weeks, ‘Why do you hate Amie Parnes? Why do you have such a personal thing against her?’” Rothstein told The Daily Caller. “The fact is that I’ve never met her. I don’t know her and this isn’t personal. It’s totally professional. I’ve watched her work, I’ve read her work, day in and day out, and there is never anything, not even slightly, critical of the first lady. It’s absurd coverage. As a media reporter, I don’t know how I couldn’t point that out.”

Parnes’s latest piece, which ran as the lead story on Politico’s website last Friday, frames the first lady as a victim of conservative attacks from figures like Andrew Breitbart, Michelle Malkin, Rush Limbaugh, Rep. Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin. This criticism from the right, Parnes suggests, is hard to understand, given that Michelle has spent the last two years “primarily focusing on childhood obesity, military families and the arts.” Parnes makes no mention of the first lady’s many and varied political activities. She does point out that, “for conservative critics, it is open season on the first lady.”

As an example, Parnes points to remarks the first lady made about breast feeding. “The next day,” Parnes wrote, “Bachmann took the first swipe, criticizing Obama for trying to implement a ‘nanny state’ based on her push to get mothers to breastfeed their children in order to help combat childhood obesity.”

Bachmann’s office vigorously disputes Politico’s characterization. Spokesman Doug Sachtleben told TheDC that Parnes never tried to contact the congresswoman for comment. He also said the way the Politico reporter framed Bachmann’s response was misleading. “Congresswoman Bachmann was clearly not criticizing First Lady Michelle Obama, but was offering a straightforward critique of Obama Administration policies that the First Lady has touted,” Sachtleben wrote in an e-mail to TheDC. “The Congresswoman is concerned about the government using its power and its tax code to create a nanny state. It’s not an attack when you point out that the Administration is using the tax code for social engineering.”

In the same piece, Parnes holds up Michelle Malkin as an especially virulent – and by implication, unreasonable – critic of the president’s wife. “In a column, Michelle Malkin also chimed in, saying that the first lady and her ‘food cops’ aren’t ‘interested in slimming down kids’ waistlines but rather ‘boosting government and public union payrolls,’” Parnes wrote.

Yet according to Malkin, Parnes never bothered to contact her directly, though “she had plenty of time to quote sympathetic academics who lend an air of supposed gravitas to the piece.”

“The entire premise of the piece is wrong,” Malkin said. “Mrs. Obama has exercised a significantly more aggressive role marshaling a wide swath of government agencies in support of her policy/legislative agenda than other first ladies since Hillary Clinton.”

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  • IMcasualcat

    Ya’ll continue to crack me up with the raging paranoia ….. while the right bashes assaults and otherwise cooks up policies to ensure there will only be two classes …. rich people and the poor people that lick their boots for scraps …

    • thephranc

      Thanks for you dishonest post.

    • moira1987

      two classes …. rich people and the poor people that lick their boots for scraps …

      Oh, come on now, cat! You know you’d love to have the privilege of licking a millionaire’s boots… But it should come as no surprise to anyone that you’re unable to generate a defense for Amie Parnes, who is apparently doing a special favor for Michelle Obama that I’m pretty sure Politico is not paying her to do. She really should show some professionalism and stick to reporting, not flacking.

    • truebearing

      Well, Causalcat, I kind of doubt that anything you read on the DC is the cause of you being “cracked”. It looks like it’s genetic to me.

  • riseabove

    For decades the advertising world has put pressure on young adults to be slimmer resulting in numerous fatalities tied to bulemia and anorexia. I wonder if those numbers will increase in the next few years…?

    • talibangelical

      Obesity is a much, much, much bigger and more costly problem — not even close. Fat folks cost this country billions each year.

      • riseabove

        Drug abuse, gang warfare, illegal immigration, insurance/internet/government fraud and tons of other things costs the country billions of dollars each year and you’re worried about other people’s weight? Let me tell you something, Taliban…the oppressive world you’re pushing toward is hardly a world worth living in. I’d sooner die than give somebody else total control over my body and my being. Judging by the recent uprisings in one country after another, so wouldn’t millions of other people. Live free or die is my motto. And now just because you’ve aggravated me twice today I’m buying TWO bags of Cheetos next time I go shopping…so there!

      • truebearing

        But nothing compared to lazy, drug addled, destructive morons with bad attitudes and no integrity. Lets ban them.

  • MerryJ1

    I have no problem with Michelle Obama or any First Lady promoting or supporting (her) own vision of improvement. Whether in the healthy dietary habits Mrs. Obama favors, literacy projects (such as Laura Bush’s promotion of school and library reading programs for children), highway beautification (Lady Bird Johnson’s tree-and-flower-planting initiatives) or any other campaign, a First Lady can make a positive difference by helping to raise awareness and public interest.

    The problem arises when a First Lady (Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton) attempts to channel government coercion via her husband’s office, to mandate that her own personal preferences be shoved down citizens’ throats.

  • jcp370

    Politico = Pravda and all the writers are hacks. I stopped reading it about a year and a half ago. Won’t even click on a link to the site.

    How those supposed journalists can look themselves in their mirrors each morning is anybody’s guess. I guess the money & power was worth what self-respect they had, if they ever had any to begin with. The hacks that have children must really be proud about what they’re doing for their kids’ futures.

  • truebearing

    Welcome to Obama’s Grave New World, and state run media. Chairman Maobama has hundreds of media hacks defending him, so Michelle gets to have one too.