The Obama administration's decision to bar reporters from accompanying first lady Michelle Obama on her trip to China has caused friction between the White House and members of the U.S. press.
It also has illuminated hypocrisy in how the White House views the press and in how the press treats the White House based on what political party is in office, Tim Graham, director of media analysis for the conservative Media Research Center, told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
"On one level there's a real concern about access to the president on the part of the media. Yet, the media coverage is so slavish that you have to ask yourself the question, is Obama serious about curtailing the press? Why on earth would he curtail the press? They're no threat at all," he said Monday.
Graham said that aside from some minor griping, the press has largely given the White House a pass when it comes to restricting its access. By comparison, Graham said the media was up in arms when Dick Cheney barred the New York Times from his plane in 2004.
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The White House justified its decision to let Michelle Obama travel without reporters by saying her trip wasn't political, but Graham disagreed.
"Look, it's the first lady of the United States, she's tweeted like 32 times about how much she loves education and this and that," he said. "They've got a partnership with Discovery, they're doing chats, it's an active trip, selling some talking points. It's political."
Graham also said the media has treated her with kid gloves compared to how it handled her predecessor, Laura Bush. Whereas Bush was often questioned about her husband's decisions, Graham said Obama knows she's never going to get tough questions about Obamacare enrollment or the ongoing showdown with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"This is the irony, they all saw Mrs. Bush on some level as a doormat, as a librarian." Graham said.
"Mrs. [Hillary] Clinton and Mrs. Obama, who are lawyers, get absolute softball treatment like they were a housewife."
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