Archives About Staff BagNews is dedicated to visual politics, media literacy and the analysis of news images.
August 9, 2010

Michelle Antoinette

Sorry for my lack of tact but the overall tone of its slide show, the hateful spirit and lack of judgment in running this caption, and the degree to which TIME subsumes itself as a right-wing mouthpiece is simply disgusting.

I’m sure TIME would respond they were simply echoing the concerns of many about Michelle Obama’s trip to Spain.  The fact they would so specifically and thoroughly turn this caption into a platform for NY Daily News columnist (and FOX political commentator, and PR exec, and former GOP campaign strategist) Andrea Tantaros, however, is the journalistic equivalent of “accessory-to-slander.”

By the way, If TIME were to argue for any daylight here between themselves and Ms. Tantaros, they lose any option to such a claim by offering up the title they chose — forcing us to give credence to, and literally consider the legitimacy of the question: “Michelle Antoinette?” (If Ms. Tantaros merely offers up the analogy, it’s TIME that morphs it into a catchy new name.)

Taking a random photo of an elegantly-dressed Mrs. Obama and putting a caption like this underneath it is framing her, as Glenn Beck did a few weeks ago, as a narcissistic material girl. The innuendo is not just in this caption and photo, though. How about this one preceding it — the part where it reads that the First Lady “isn’t just sticking to the one part of Spain.” My God, the audacity of a vacation with multiple destinations!

Now, this personal attack wouldn’t have anything to do with the popular First Lady’s ability to play a strategic role in the midterm elections — especially taking on Palin’s grizzly commando squad — would it?  And, certainly, it wouldn’t have anything to do with Daily News’ Mort (“Obama hater“) Zuckerman’s anger, as Taylor Marsh suggests, that the Administration has imparted even the slightest regulations on USA Inc.?

What’s really troubling, though, is that it’s not just the right that’s piling on here. Even Maureen Dowd uses the Spain trip as a springboard for character assassination, accusing FLOTUS of repeatedly ditching Barack — whether that involves ‘frolicking in the land of flamenco,’ making a beeline for Broadway, or doing up Beverly Hills. I guess what these voices from pundit-land are trying to tell us is that the First Lady, in spite of fighting child obesity, advocating for military families, promoting the arts, and doing all that mom stuff, is really America’s princess.

TIME MO Spain photo gallery.

  • http://www.serr8d.blogspot.com serr8d

    There’s some speculation that BHO knows he’s a one-term president; that’s why he so seemingly tone-deaf as to the political ramifications of such a costly trip at this stage of our economic FAIL. A one-termer, so they will try get all they can regardless of the political fallout.

    Can you recall Laura Bush going on such a jaunt (multiple jaunts) in such inopportune times? Bring up in your mind your feelings of OUTRAGE! if you would. Would such OUTRAGE! seem out of place to you, if M’Chelle had an ‘R’ next to her name?

    Read Krugman in today’s NYT; he realizes that Atlas is shrugging. We likely won’t recover economically until Democrats are completely out of power; maybe not even then. We must prove that Keynesian Voodoo economics are a failure, and leftist’s Liberal Fascism cannot work and sustain a healthy economy.

    • Billy Bob Patriot

      Are you also outraged, serr8d, that Obama is not meeting his obligation under the UN Convention Against Torture, and investigating Bush for war crimes? Are you also outraged that Bush lied us into a war on Iraq that has resulted in so much suffering and death and contributed to his bankrupting of America’s economy? Or how about when Bush admitted to ordering torture? Did that bother you?

      I’m no fan of Obama. I voted for him and find him a major disappointment. But to make a big deal out of this petty stuff while ignoring what the Bushies have done to this country and the world is just small change partisan sniping.

    • B’ll B’ob P’atriot

      Fact: The Bush’s spent nearly $10 million in taxpayer money flying back and forth to their estate in Crawford, Texas, and the Bush, Sr.’s seaside compound in Kennebunkport, ME., where the Fist Family retreated for vacations. The Obama trip to Spain reportedly cost $73,000.

      http://mediamatters.org/blog/201008060006

    • mesasf

      Typical mindless ramblings from another right wing delusional. How much time did Bush spend at Crawford digging this country into the domestic and international mess we’re in? Before right wingers use words like fascist, Keynesian, etc., perhaps they should engage their brains in some studying before they make comments like this wingnut, and carry Hitler/Nazi/Fascist/Communist signs around at their tea bag events.

  • black dog barking

    The similarities between Ms Obama and Mme Antoinette are stunning. Antoinette’s parents were the Emperor and Empress of a world power and Obama can trace her roots to slaves. Antoinette was married at age 14 to the Dauphin of France and ascended to the French throne on the death of Louis XV; Obama went to Princeton and Harvard Law School, probably on scholarship. Antoinette would supervise masques where the elite of France had to dress and pretend to be peasant shepherds. Obama worked in private and public industry. Etc.

    If I had a national news magazine I would be sure that everyone knew about these stunning convergences. In fact I’d stake my reputation as a national news magazine on making sure that everyone could see the validity of this comparison.

    Is Time still in business?

  • Gasho

    I was thinking Michelle looked quite regular here.. among the people.. the exact opposite of what all of the words are saying. If we just come back to the picture, she’s more down to earth here than 99% of the images we see of our political class.

  • Twinky P*

    M’Chelle

    Really, why don’t you just yell “nigger” and get it over with? You’re not fooling anyone.

  • Megan

    Friends, this is a site for the visual analysis of media presentations. Serr8d, could you please point precisely to elements of the photo that inform your comments?

    When we stray from the photos and captions, this becomes the standard boring political arguments that I can get anywhere. (See how serr8d drew you in, Billy Bob Patriot and black dog barking?)

    Talk about the pictures here, please. Talk abstract politics on sites devoted to that, please.

    • black dog barking

      Actually, I was responding this –

      She added, “Michelle Obama seems more like a modern-day Marie Antoinette … than an average mother of two.”

      from the caption of the image. Time magazine is the source of that quote, not the esteemed serr8d.

      I’m not sure which of those two should be most offended by your conflation. Because of their relative audience sizes I think serr8d’s fantasies are less damaging to our social order than Time’s. I can’t tell, top of my head, which entity is the more delusional.

      And yes, I agree, as a rule trolls are best ignored.

    • Megan

      Thanks for explaining that to me, bdb. I should have guessed you’d be responding to the caption.

  • Megan

    Not that I’m a moderator or have any authority here.

  • Megan

    Thanks, Gasho, for talking about this picture.

  • http://motherrr.blogspot.com cmac

    I’m speechless. The picture shows an elegant and self-assured woman smiling at the camera. The caption seems completely unrelated to the picture.

    Time has crossed a line here. Their politicking, which has been annoying enough that I dropped my subscription more than ten years ago, is now beyond offensive. The magazine is garbage.

  • http://justbetweenstrangers.blogspot.com/ acm

    amazingly, what I see when I look there is an echo of the famous fashion shots of Jackie Kennedy — maybe it’s the shades and the polish. I think it’s great, and a young couple in the White House that is generally setting a good example. the media digs whatever direction it has to in order to generate “dirt” on Democratic presidencies…

  • JW

    Hypocritical on all counts. Now look also at the Clinton’s wedding bash: pure gluttony. Now we have Rangel and Maxwell to contend with.

    Folks, don’t kid yourself, they are All crooks.

  • g

    Next thing you know, she’ll be staying in a penthouse with custom hand-painted murals on the wall, trimmed with gold-leaf molding an upholstered with Fortuna fabric.

    Ooops, sorry, that’s someone else:

    Rush Limbaugh’s penthouse

  • Nick Nayme

    I share the outrage at the abuse from the likes of Time, but fail to understand why you would write that “even” Maureen Dowd uses the trip for character assassination. Character assassination is the Dowd’s standard stock-in-trade. “Even” does not enter into it.

  • Michael

    Returning briefly to the lack of fit between caption and shot: the shot itself shows a moderately glamorous woman apparently surrounded by peers. A woman in a crowd, indeed, on the evidence of the picture, a member of a crowd. Against this background, the caption writer draws on nothing from the picture itself, but tries to pour his/her significance into it. Never likely to be a full success.

  • bystander

    I really dislike this shot of Michelle Obama. It strikes me as one of the most unflattering I’ve seen of her. Maybe it’s the way the picture got cropped, or shutter clicked at a really inauspicious moment. First, she looks off balance. Like she just stepped into a depression in the sidewalk, or the heel of her right shoe went out from under her. Second, the nature of the frame and the off shoulder dress gives her a “linebacker”’s appearance. The combination makes it appear as though she’s lumbering along. This one is a lot more flattering, and looks more like the graceful woman married to Barack Obama. Of course, I’d crop out the dudes with the dark shades.

  • Molly

    Michelle was in SPAIN, people! Marie Antoinette was FRENCH!

    Oh, wait, FRENCH. I see the reason for the froth. Carry on.

  • Craig

    Irony defined: This website complaining that a “random photo” is being used to project unfounded negative attributes onto the person, based upon political biases.

Refresh Archives

Random Notes