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Conservatives say the first lady intruded on event

Michelle Obama is suddenly dividing the country.

A debate is raging about the propriety of the first lady’s actions.

Why? Because she had the temerity to show up at the Oscars—virtually speaking, that is.

Michelle Obama

Kevin Winter/Getty

Overblown?

Obama: Fear the Cuts!

As President Obama warns of the pain from deep budget cuts set to kick in on Friday, Republicans are accusing him of crying wolf. Howard Kurtz on who's winning the message war.

President Obama, taking his campaign against automatic spending cuts on the road, had a ready answer on Tuesday for Republicans who want to put the meat cleaver in his hands:

Not happening.

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President Barack Obama speaks during a visit to Newport News Shipbuilding February 26, 2013 in Newport News, Virginia. Obama spoke on the possible impacts of the sequester for the defense industry and its workers. (Alex Wong/Getty)

Appearing before hardhat-wearing shipyard workers in Newport News, Va., the president tried to step up pressure on the GOP to avoid the so-called sequester that hits Friday. Following the all-politics-is-local rule, Obama pointed out that 90,000 Virginia defense workers will face furloughs if the cuts are allowed to stand.

MSNBC, websites pick up misleading editing by Phoenix station

The media have misfired when it comes to John McCain and guns.

A videotape of a town hall meeting appears to show the Arizona senator reacting insensitively to a mother who lost her son in the movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colo.

But it turns out the tape was edited in a distorted fashion.

Several national news outlets picked up the truncated video, which was edited by Phoenix television station KTVK.

Stiffing the Press?

Obama’s Social-Media Gamble

The president and vice president are using Facebook and Google to bypass the mainstream press. Howard Kurtz on why the strategy is surprisingly risky.

It must have seemed the safest of forums, a Facebook town hall in which Vice President Joe Biden would field questions about gun safety.

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Pete Souza/The White House

After all, what elected official wouldn’t rather talk to actual voters than pesky reporters? And the White House is increasingly using technology to connect with the masses, pointedly bypassing the mainstream media in the process.

Turns out Biden came out with both barrels. At Tuesday’s Facebook event, sponsored by Parents magazine, a reader named Kate Earnest posed this loaded question: “Do you believe that banning certain weapons and high-capacity magazines will mean that law-abiding citizens will then become more of a target to criminals, as we will have no way to sufficiently protect ourselves?”

The general is passing up the job of NATO commander, citing family issues. Howard Kurtz on the fallout from the Jill Kelley e-mails.

Nearly four months after he got entangled in the David Petraeus scandal, Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, is retiring.

Marine General John Allen

Marine Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan listens during a news conference at the Pentagon on March 26, 2012. (Haraz N. Ghanbari/AP)

The skids had been greased for Allen to become the next commander of NATO forces, but the machinery hit a snag when Allen was forced to explain correspondence involving hundreds of personal e-mails.

The official reason for Allen stepping down, according to the White House, is “so he can address health issues within his family.” There was no elaboration.

Trots out first responders to warn of draconian budget cuts

President Obama just played the police card.

He surrounded himself with first responders at the White House on Tuesday morning to dramatize what he says will be the impact of the automatic spending cuts set to take effect at month’s end.

Against this backdrop of blue, Obama said if the so-called sequestration isn’t stopped, first responders will lose their jobs, prosecutors will drop cases and let criminals go free, and teachers will be laid off

“This is not an abstraction,” the president said.

They cool their heels while he hangs with Tiger

The White House press corps is pissed at the president.

He spent the weekend golfing, and all they got was to cool their heels.

Obama hit the links with Tiger Woods, and they got the shaft.

Obama Vacation

President Barack Obama prepares to putt while playing golf at Farm Neck Golf Club, in Oak Bluffs, Mass., on the island of Martha's Vineyard, Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011. (Steven Senne/AP)

While General Allen reconsiders his NATO nomination, a bit player in the scandal is being pursued by TV anchors and people offering cash. She tells Howard Kurtz why she’s overwhelmed.

Jill Kelley had barely grown accustomed to her status as an unwilling celebrity when she was flooded with opportunities to cash in.

Petraeus Resigns

Jill Kelley works near a window of her home in Tampa in November. She allegedly received harassing emails from Gen. David Petraeus’s paramour, Paula Broadwell. (Chris O'Meara/AP)

There was a $250,000 offer for an interview with a tabloid television show, Kelley says. Book publishers proffered deals worth millions for the inside story of the David Petraeus scandal. There was even talk from publicists who she says approached her about a clothing line and a possible Super Bowl ad.

She turned them all down.

FOX BLAST

Ailes: Obama Foments Hate

The Fox News chairman says Obama pits blacks against whites, middle class against rich. By Howard Kurtz.

Roger Ailes says President Obama is whipping up hate.

The Fox News chairman has never been a fan of the president, but even by his standards, those are strikingly harsh words.

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Former New York City mayor David Dinkins (left); Roger Ailes, chairman and CEO of Fox News and Fox Business; and the Rev. Jesse Jackson attend the 2012 Ailes Apprentice Class graduation ceremony in November at Fox Studios in New York. (Rob Kim/Getty)

“The president likes to divide people into groups,” Ailes tells The New Republic in an interview. “He’s too busy getting the middle class to hate rich people, blacks to hate whites. He is busy trying to get everybody to hate each other.”

WE’VE CHANGED!

GOP Swears It’s Not Stupid

Republicans are on a PR campaign to repair their image and convince voters they love women, immigrants, and the poor. But can they walk the walk? Howard Kurtz doubts it.

Consider: Sarah Palin and Dick Morris are out at Fox News, and Scott Brown, the Massachusetts moderate, may be in.

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The GOP is navigating many hurdles to rebrand itself away from the image of stodgy old businessmen. (Key Wilde/Getty)

Eric Cantor is talking about the problems of working mothers.

Marco Rubio is on the cover of Time as “the New Voice of the GOP” and will respond next week to the president’s State of the Union.

But Republicans love the network

It’s official: Fox is the most distrusted name in news.

But an awful lot of people trust it, too.

In an annual Public Policy Polling survey, 46 percent of those questioned say they don’t trust Rupert Murdoch’s network—a 9-point jump in a negative view of the network since 2010.

At the same time, 41 percent of those in the new poll say they trust Fox News—a telling snapshot of a news channel that conservatives love and liberals love to hate.

PUBLIC RELATIONS

Eric Cantor Softens His Tone

The majority leader, bruised from battling Obama, tries to connect with working Americans. Howard Kurtz on the GOP’s image rehab.

Eric Cantor is acutely aware that the GOP has an image problem.

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House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., holds a news conference on the Stock Act outside of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 31, 2012. (Bill Clark/Getty)

For the past year-and-a-half, the House majority leader and his colleagues have been manning the barricades of negativity: "No" to Obamacare. "No" to immigration reform. "No" to gun control. "No" to higher taxes on the wealthy. "No" to just about anything the White House wants.

Now Cantor is trying to soften his hard-edged reputation, portraying the Republican Party as caring deeply about education, health care and innovation.

The president's surge could be blocked by the GOP's dogged defense

The Baltimore Ravens were on an incredible roll before an inexplicable electricity outage stopped their momentum and nearly cost them the Super Bowl.

Is President Obama, having surged in the polls after winning reelection, hitting a similar power shortage?

Can he carry the legislative ball into the end zone against a prevent defense swarming with arm-waving Republicans?

The football analogy is admittedly strained, but Obama’s offense has yet to show it can put points on the board when it counts.

The president says those here illegally could become citizens but must go to “the back of the line.” Howard Kurtz on why Obama agreed to a go-slow approach.

President Obama made a crucial tactical shift on Tuesday as he offered a full-throated appeal for immigration reform, embracing the plan cobbled together by a group of senators from both parties.

President Obama

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on immigration reform at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas, Jan. 29, 2013. (Jason Reed/Reuters, via Landov)

Despite predictions that Obama would unveil a significantly more liberal approach than the group led by John McCain, Marco Rubio, and Chuck Schumer, he made the calculation that having big-name Republicans on board could break the logjam on Capitol Hill.

Speaking from Las Vegas, the president wasted little time praising “a bipartisan group of senators announced their principles for comprehensive immigration reform, which are very much in line with the principles I’ve proposed and campaigned on for the last few years.” Translation: I’m on board.

Financial Offer Far Less Than Previous Deal

Fox News offered Sarah Palin a new contract before she decided to part ways with the network where she has held forth as a commentator for the last three years.

However, it would be hard to describe it as a generous contract.

Sarah Palin

Bill Pugliano / Getty Images

Palin was a hot property when Roger Ailes landed her in 2009, fresh off her colorful run for vice president, and paid her an annual salary of $1 million. Fox even built Palin a studio at her Wasilla home.

About the Author

Author headshot

Howard Kurtz

Howard Kurtz is The Daily Beast and Newsweek’s Washington bureau chief, and writes the Spin Cycle blog. He also hosts CNN’s weekly media program Reliable Sources on Sundays at 11 a.m. ET. The longtime media reporter and columnist for The Washington Post, Kurtz is the author of five books.

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Martha Stewart Vs. The Law

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