Entertainment
First lady Michelle Obama, appearing on screen, and actor Jack Nicholson present the award for best picture during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) First lady Michelle Obama, appearing on screen, and actor Jack Nicholson present the award for best picture during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)  

‘Statist propaganda:’ Michelle Obama slammed for using military as ‘props’ during Oscars appearance

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Vince Coglianese
Executive Editor
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      Vince Coglianese

      Vince Coglianese is the executive editor of The Daily Caller.

      His reporting has received wide coverage, including in the pages of The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and The Drudge Report, among others. Vince has appeared as a guest on the Fox News Channel, CNN and CNBC, as well as other cable news networks. Additionally, Vince has been a guest on "The Sean Hannity Radio Show," Sirius XM''s "The Press Pool with Julie Mason," "The Schnitt Show" and Glenn Beck's TheBlaze TV.

      Prior to joining TheDC, Vince was the Web Editor for CarolinaCoastOnline.com, and a radio talk show host for The Talk Station (WTKF/WJNC) in Morehead City, N.C.

First lady Michelle Obama is under fire after she appeared as a long-distance award presenter on the Oscars Sunday evening, flanked by active-duty American service members.

The well-dressed members of the military stood attentively behind the first lady inside the White House as she presented the award for best picture to the movie “Argo.”

But the use of those service members has left some of her critics fuming.

Jennifer Rubin, a conservative columnist for The Washington Post, noted that Michelle Obama didn’t even acknowledge the military during her appearance:

She declared of the Best Picture nominees, “They reminded us that we can overcome any obstacle if we dig deep enough and fight hard enough and find the courage within ourselves.” Alas, none of the films nor her aides reminded her to mention the military, not those personnel behind her nor those serving overseas, an odd omission for the White House that nevertheless was pleased to have them arrayed behind her like, well, set decoration.

Rubin wrote that the military personnel were used as nothing more than “props” for the first lady to “intrude” on American entertainment.

“Should our troops be used as Michelle’s Oscar props?” wondered conservative radio host Laura Ingraham Monday morning.

And a man who was once responsible for all public relations in the Department of Veterans Affairs said the use of the military may have crossed an ethical line.

Ed Timperlake — a former Marine fighter pilot who served as an assistant secretary in the Department of Veterans Affairs under President George H.W. Bush — told The Daily Caller in an interview Monday that using the military as “window dressing” for a commercial event almost certainly “crossed the line” into “statist propaganda.”

“I thought it was unseemly,” said Timperlake, recounting his reaction while watching the Oscars. “I think the use of the service members crossed the line.”

“Putting her up on the stage to award an Oscar is fine. However, putting uniformed military behind her is coming up, maybe perhaps crossing the line where you’re using active duty military in their dress uniform as a prop … for commercial purposes,” Timperlake said.

Michelle Obama Oscars

Military regulations prohibit “the wearing of a military uniform during or in connection with the furtherance of any political or commercial interests,” according to the Department of Defense.

And although the Pentagon may make special exceptions to Hollywood for public relations purposes, Timperlake explained, the first lady’s use of the military went beyond anything he would have supported as a senior administration official.

“America should be a little bit concerned, if not more concerned,” he suggested. “When you focus on the first lady with military members behind her that have nothing whatsoever to do with the event other than to essentially provide window dressing — which is harsh, but true — I think they were up against, if not crossing the line and that’s a slippery slope I don’t think America wants to be on.”