Cynthia McFadden Enthuses Over Michelle Obama's Skill at 'Cutting' and Not 'Drawing Blood'

In the fourth and final part of ABC's 20 minute-long interview with Michelle Obama, Nightline co-anchor Cynthia McFadden on Wednesday praised the First Lady's skill at "the art of the cut that doesn't draw blood." After playing a clip of Mrs. Obama at the Democratic National Convention, McFadden cued, "Do you think Mitt Romney is the kind of guy that slams the door behind himself [when it comes to allowing opportunity for others]?" [MP3 audio here.]

The journalist hyped that the First Lady turns her husband's "cool persona just a little bit warmer." After three days of softball questions, McFadden's attempts at getting tough mostly fell flat. While talking about hopes for Barack Obama's presidency, the reporter wondered, "Have you had to pull back some of your own expectations; what was possible from even this perch?"

McFadden delicately noted that there are "many people" who "have a sense of disappointment that more wasn't able to happen in the last four years." At no time did the journalist ask about unemployment or the developing scandal over the President's handling of a terrorist attack in Libya.

In contrast, Laura Bush did receive tough questioning while her husband was President.

In total, ABC featured Mrs. Obama for 20 minutes and 24 seconds, three days on Nightline and on Monday morning's Good Morning America. One might argue that ABC provided balance by allowing Ann Romney to "host" Good Morning America on Wednesday.

However, "hosting" actually amounted to three segments and 13 minutes.

Additionally, ABC is now backtracking on suggesting that Mrs. Romney was a host, as reported by the Washington Post:

An ABC News rep told The TV Column on Wednesday afternoon that the GOP’s FLOTUS candidate was not a guest co-host, as had been reported since last month, but a “special guest.” That must also come as news to . . . ABC News, which had two reports on its Web site Wednesday afternoon referring to Ann Romney as the day’s “GMA” guest host. And which sent photos of Romney to The TV Column last week, explaining that “Ann Romney is set to guest-host GMA next week on Wednesday.”

For more on the first Michelle Obama segment, go here, for the second, go here and here for the third.

A transcript of the October 10 Nightline segment can be found below.


CYNTHIA MCFADDEN: Yesterday, we were backstage with Michelle Obama on the campaign trail. If she looks a bit tense it's because she knows in an election this close, every vote counts. We are in Sterling, Virginia, only 29 miles from the White House, but deep in the heart of swing state territory.

MICHELLE OBAMA: It is all on the line.

MCFADDEN: We are in Sterling, Virginia, on 29 miles from the White House, but deep in the heart of swing state territory.

MICHELLE OBAMA: When we win Virginia we will be well on our way to putting Barack Obama back in the White House for four more years.

MCFADDEN: Her job as the election draws near is to testify to her husband's merits.

MICHELLE OBAMA:  He is funny. I am funnier.

MCFADDEN: And turn his cool persona just a little bit warmer.

BARACK OBAMA: In terms of star wattage– I rank below Michelle, the girls and Bo.

MCFADDEN: She certainly was a hit at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.

MICHELLE OBAMA: I have seen firsthand that being president doesn't change who you are. No, it reveals who you are.

MCFADDEN: The speech showed she perfected the art of the cut that doesn't draw blood. That night, she never mentioned Mitt Romney by name, but in praising her husband, she really seemed to be making a point about his opponent.

MICHELLE OBAMA: He believes when you have worked hard and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you.

MCFADDEN: Do you think Mitt Romney is the kind of guy that slams the door behind himself?

MICHELLE OBAMA: I don't talk about other candidates. I don't talk about other people. All I can talk about is my husband and the values that he brings.

MCFADDEN: One senses this Harvard educated attorney has trained herself to side step conflict. Observe when we asked her about the tape from a private fundraiser where Mitt Romney said 47 percent of Americans believe they are victims. What do you think we learned about Mr. Romney in those tapes?

MICHELLE OBAMA: You know, again, I do not even begin to, you know, get into that kind of back and forth. I do know that Barack has made, I think some very eloquent statements about those remarks that I completely agree with. I don't think that I have got any more to add than what he said. [Clip of Michelle Obama giving a speech.] What is clear to me--

MCFADDEN:  She learned to measure her word carefully. In February of 2008, she was roundly criticized for comments she made during this speech in Wisconsin.

MICHELLE OBAMA: For the first time in my adult lifetime, I'm really proud of my country.

MCFADDEN: Her remarks ignited a firestorm.

CINDY MCCAIN: I am proud of my country. I don't know about you if you hear those words earlier. I am very proud of my country.

MCFADDEN: Leading to questions about her patriotism. But now with a 65 percent approval rating, she is seen as a campaign asset, being deployed in swing states across the country.

MICHELLE OBAMA: You all are our best advocates.

MCFADDEN: Meeting with groups, large and small.

MICHELLE OBAMA: I can make the case, but I am still married to the guy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  She is just about the best runing partner any political candidate could have.

MCFADDEN: The campaign hopes she can help turn out the base for her husband –even if some of the voters are far less excited than they were four years ago. There are so many people in this country who voted for your husband and yet who have a sense of disappointment that more wasn't able to happen in the last four years.

MICHELLE OBAMA: I would say there is nobody who is less satisfied and knows there is more to do than my husband. Yeah, we, there has been a lot accomplished. But Barack of all people knows that there is still folks hurting and there is still work to be done. And he is not finished until that work gets done.

MCFADDEN: Have you had to pull back some of your own expectations; what was possible from even this perch?

MICHELLE OBAMA:  You want-- you want 100 percent and you get 40 percent and you, and you take it. And you keep working for the 100 percent. You never let it go. But you don't, you know, turn your nose up at 40 percentbecause that is growth. That is change. That's movement.

MCFADDEN: It has to be kind of frustrating though. One of the themes of your husband's last campaign was we are going to come to Washington it is not going to be business as usual. We are going to work together, we're going to, and it hasn't happened. One could make a strong case –

MICHELLE OBAMA: It's been three and a half years, you know? It's been three and a half years. You know, real change takes time.

MCFADDEN:  Considering how ugly the campaign has been, it's interesting that she says she feels a sort of solidarity with her counterpart on the trail. You know, I know that Ann Romney is playing for the other team. Is there a certain sisterhood between women who are in this position of having their husbands seek the presidency?

OBAMA: Absolutely. Anyone–  regardless of party or position, who ever makes this kind of sacrifice, you know, and says to myself, I am going to put my family, my life on the line, whatever it is, and I am going to run for office, and I am going to serve the people of this country, they deserve a pat on the back– because that's how this democracy works.

MCFADDEN: While she is working hard to help her husband serve four more years she says what matters most to her will still be there on election day. Win or lose. What would you look that you don't have right now?

MICHELLE OBAMA: Oh, gosh. You know what? I am, I feel so blessed and so content. I have what any parent would want. I have got a husband who loves me. I have got two kids that are healthy and happy. And I wouldn't dare ask for anything more.

MACFADDEN: While many of you have asked whether Ann Romney is going to be featured on "Nightline." We have a request pending with the campaign and hope to be on the road with her very soon.

-- Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.