The First Lady's Calories ... Why Do They Count? The "Beauty Shop" women discuss Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony's divorce announcement, the criticism Michelle Obama received for eating a 1,700-calorie meal, and the merits of using an alleged rape victim's name in mainstream media. Host Michel Martin speaks with American Studies Associate Professor Duchess Harris, Latina Magazine Editorial Director Galina Espinoza, politics and pop culture blogger Danielle Belton, and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Connie Schultz.
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The First Lady's Calories ... Why Do They Count?

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The First Lady's Calories ... Why Do They Count?

The First Lady's Calories ... Why Do They Count?

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MICHEL MARTIN, host: I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News.

It's hot. It's humid. So we decided to stop into the Beauty Shop to cool off and talk about some stories that we think could use a woman's touch. And there are many: the announcement that the royal couple of Latin and pop music are splitting up. We're talking about Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony. Also, Wendi Deng Murdoch jumping to husband Rupert Murdoch's defense - and we mean literally. And First Lady Michelle Obama getting dinged by the blogs for a fast food feast. And we'd also like to talk about the ongoing debate within the media about whether or not to publish the names of alleged rape victims.

Here to talk about all of this are Duchess Harris, associate professor of American Studies at Macalester College. She's author of "Black Feminist Politics from Kennedy to Obama." Galina Espinoza is also with us, co-president and editorial director of Latina magazine. Danielle Belton is author of the pop culture and politics blog "The Black Snob." And Connie Schultz, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and columnist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer is with us. Welcome, ladies. So glad you could come.

So, Galina, I'm going to start with you. Got to start off with the pop culture news that Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony announcing that after a seven-year marriage, they are getting a divorce. And I think this was a shock because their personal and professional lives seemed very much in synch. Here's a taste of them singing "No Me Ames," which means, ironically enough, don't love me.


JENNIFER LOPEZ: (Singing in Spanish)

MARTIN: Galina, am I right that Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony really are kind of the it couple? The it Latino couple?

GALINA ESPINOZA: Oh, without a doubt, I mean, they were huge for Latinos when they weren't together. I mean, Marc Anthony, everyone thinks Jennifer Lopez is the much bigger star. And, of course, that is true here in the United States. But in Latin America, he has been an international singing superstar for a lot longer than she has and he's the better known of the pair. So it's kind of funny when they would travel to Latin America together. He was the one who needed the extra protection and the extra bodyguards, which was the exact opposite of their lives here.

So to say that this is devastating news for their fans is definitely an understatement. And it's surprise not only because of the ways in which their personal and professional lives were entwined, but also because there really were no outward signs that this was a couple on the rocks. In fact, we at Latina interviewed them on June 15th, interviewed Jennifer, let me clarify, on June 15th. We had spoken to Marc the week before for a couples story that we were doing with them in Latina magazine.

And I don't think a Hollywood couple sits down to talk about the intimate details of their relationship and their family life if they're planning to split up. So it's really confusing to us as to exactly what went wrong here.

MARTIN: And they say, though, in their announcement that all matters have been amicably resolved, which I just find amazing, given the extent of their business dealings, which are intertwined and the fact that they have children. And you really think that in a month they could've - I'm just puzzled by this.

ESPINOZA: The whole thing is confusing. I mean I think that they put that part in the statement to kind of end or try to put a damper on any sort of rampant speculation as to how this was all going to play out. And it's certainly in each of their best interests to keep this quiet and under the radar and to resolve this as amicably as possible. But it certainly speaks to the finality of this decision.

I think that so often when you hear couples, particularly in Hollywood, announce that they're separating, they do leave the door open. This left no room for reconciliation. They were basically, like, we are done.

MARTIN: Danielle, you were saying you weren't really surprised because I'm with Galina on this. Not that I, you know, spend all my free time, you know, worrying about Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony. I just want to assure people of that. But I was surprised after seven years you kind of think, you know, you're kind of over the hump at that point. And you say you weren't surprised.

DANIELLE BELTON: Well, you know, I got to admit, like, I don't know, obviously, them personally. But just from what I knew of JLo and how she was before she married Marc Anthony. I mean, she was someone who really courted the spotlight, who really loved the attention, who really went out there for her career both as an actress and a musician and a dancer.

And so when she got with Marc Anthony, for the first time in her life, she was actually boring to me. Like, you know, she settled down, she's a wife, she has some kids. She kind of took a step back. They made a movie together.

MARTIN: You find that boring. I'm sorry, I have twins also. It is not boring.


BELTON: I compared it to the tabloid frenzy that JLo was.

MARTIN: I hear.

BELTON: Compared to, like, the domestic bliss that she experienced as a married woman.

ESPINOZA: But I think that that actually gave her her best opportunity to reinvent herself.

BELTON: Oh, totally.

ESPINOZA: I mean, she totally won over new audiences this year with "American Idol" and it was because there wasn't that drama-diva thing about her. It was because she revealed herself to people...

MARTIN: The likeability factor was definitely missing before.

BELTON: But see, the point is, though, when she came back out and got on "American Idol," I feel like she got a taste of that thunder again. I think that's hard for someone who's a fame addict to give up.

MARTIN: Well, let me - you know, Connie, this is an awkward segue because I'm not calling you a fame addict by any means.


MARTIN: But you are part of a high-profile couple as well. If you don't mind my mentioning it, you're married to a senator.


MARTIN: And you also had your own career. And so the speculation here is that their schedules were just - they each were too connected to work. And people make the contrast to other celebrity couples who both have busy careers where they make an intentional decision, well, you're going to step out, you're going to do this movie, I'm going to stay home, then I, then we'll switch it up.

SCHULTZ: Mm-hmm.

MARTIN: And I just am asking based on your experience, do you find that that's credible, the argument that just your own, your work can be the reason that you split up?

SCHULTZ: No. You know, I think it's kind of a specious argument to focus on couples who are in the public or and cite special reasons why they don't succeed. I think in every marriage it's a dance and you take turns leading. And that means that you make allowances for each other's careers if you love each other. I have to tell you, honestly, when I heard the news, all I could think of is that once again we have a public couple illustrating that the greatest threat to heterosexual marriage remains heterosexuals. 'Cause I'm such an advocate for gay and lesbian marriage rights, and that's where I land on this one. I don't really care that, you know, public couples, you can't compare a senator and his wife to J Lo and Marc Anthony. They're so huge, you know?

MARTIN: I don't know. You're our J Lo. You're our J Lo.


SCHULTZ: Oh boy. I can't wait to read the blog on that one.

MARTIN: You are in journalism.


MARTIN: Duchess, a final, what do you, do you care at all? We had some debate about this in our office, to be honest with you. Some people are like, why do I care? Duchess?

DUCHESS HARRIS: I really don't care.


HARRIS: But I'm wondering, I just, I have to be honest with that, I really don't care. But I'm wondering if we're missing some information. Like I'm thinking that a few weeks from now they'll be another story and we'll find out that there's someone else in the picture and then everyone will say, oh, okay, that's why.

MARTIN: I hear you. Because, of course, that was the case with the Schwarzenegger, Shriver, Maria Shriver situation.

HARRIS: I think we all can pretty much agree that we're going to hear more about this story in the weeks to come.

MARTIN: Okay. Yeah.

HARRIS: This is not the end of this story.


SCHULTZ: That's exactly right.

MARTIN: All right. Let's turn to another power couple. Media mogul Rupert Murdoch and Wendi Deng, who is his third wife, I believe. And I think this has gone viral now. Murdoch was testifying before the British parliament yesterday about the hacking scandal that has engulfed his company, News Corp., which of course also owns Fox News in the United States. At one point a protester approached him and tried to hit him with this shaving cream pie. And then Wendi leaps forward and tries to deck the guy. The video of the altercation went viral. We'll just listen to a report about the incident briefly for those who missed it - the three people who missed it. Here it is.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The man ran towards Murdoch before being struck by the media mogul's wife, Wendi Deng. The near assault set off a scuffle and Murdoch was splattered with what appeared to be a white foam from a foil pie dish.

MARTIN: That report, of course, broadcast by the Associated Press. Duchess, why do you think we're so taken with this - the larger we - the royal we?

HARRIS: I think it's the whole stand by your man just idea. Like I'm thinking to myself I've been married almost 17 years. I'm not sure I'd like jump to catch a pie for my husband. I don't know about that.


MARTIN: Your children definitely.

HARRIS: He might be listening, so I really love you. But take your own pie.


MARTIN: Connie?

SCHULTZ: This is, I have to say, I heard the other, one of the parts of the testimony that I heard from Murdoch was that he - not only was he not willing to take responsibility at office. When they asked him directly, he said no, I blame the people who work for me and the people who work for them. At that point, had I'd been his wife I would have said, excuse me, I need to go right now, I need to leave the room. Because I'd be so embarrassed be married to this man who's not willing to own any responsibility for what has unfolded. But let's face it, a woman throws a swing, she's going to get a lot of coverage. I hope we're all learning from this.

MARTIN: What are we learning?

SCHULTZ: That we ought to do it more often because then finally they want to hear what we have to say.


ESPINOZA: Well, I thought it was just fun to see the role reversal. We're so used to men being still portrayed as the protectors and I thought it was great to her have her be the one who was kind of...


ESPINOZA: ...stepping up and defending her turf, you know, whether you agree with what's going on or not.

MARTIN: She's much younger than he. But I do wonder, forgive me, I'll just ask, that there are those who would argue that this is the kind of thing that makes a man look weak. It's like why is his wife who is four decades younger than him, you know, slapping the guy.

SCHULTZ: That's what made him look weak, was...


MARTIN: You're saying, Connie, what?

SCHULTZ: Well...

MARTIN: You're saying what made him look weak was not taking responsibility for what's going on in his company.

SCHULTZ: Yeah. I'm sorry, the huge decades of difference. And yes, I know sometimes true love can happen. But I'm sorry, if he was worried like looking like a tough strong man, he probably should have started there.


SCHULTZ: I'm sick of the argument that a woman who is strong somehow emasculates her husband. That is so silly.

MARTIN: All right. If you're just joining us, you're listening to TELL ME MORE from NPR News. We're having our visit to the Beauty Shop. With us, Danielle Belton, author and blogger, Duchess Harris, associate professor of American studies at Macalester College, and author Galina Espinoza of Latina Magazine and journalist Connie Schultz.

So let's talk now about Michelle Obama's Shake Shack stop. In other news, she was seen ordering a burger, fries, a chocolate shake and a Diet Coke earlier this month at the D.C. Shake Shack, which just opened in Washington, D.C. to the delight of burger fans in the city. And she's getting a lot, all right, I'll just say it, roasted by some in the blogosphere for the meal which contained a rather large number of calories - given her Let's Move initiative.

And, you know, Danielle, what do you make of it? I mean is this fair criticism or within bounds?

BELTON: This is stupid. This is stupid.



BELTON: She is a physically fit, active woman who is encouraging moderation and better nutrition in people's diets. The whole point of being a fit person is that sometimes you can enjoy yourself with like a nice calorie-loaded fun meal. She's not saying that food can't be something that you enjoy and be pleasureful. She's trying to teach people and encourage people to be more responsible in what they eat.

To criticize a healthy athletic woman for a meal that she had is just beyond ludicrous.

MARTIN: Anybody disagree?

SCHULTZ: No. I was embarrassed.

ESPINOZA: I completely agree.

MARTIN: Who? Connie, you're saying you're embarrassed?

SCHULTZ: I was embarrassed for my friends who work at the Washington Post and do serious journalism. Consider just this line from the story: It was impossible to tell whether the first lady intended to eat the entire order or share it with friends. And then in parentheses: The latter seems a tad more likely, considering the two drinks. How ridiculous is this coverage? It's as stupid as this, it's petty.

MARTIN: Does this, Connie, do you mind if I ask? Does this happen to you? Do people, you know, regulate what you, everything you do as a wife of a public figure?

SCHULTZ: Yeah. It prompted a story I shared with colleagues yesterday. I remember a couple of years ago I went to buy a pair of shoes.

And this is why I now only go to Zappo online. So I tried a few pairs of shoes and the person who sold the shoes to be blogged about it later, and my shoe size. She said I was very nice to her but she couldn't understand why I put this pair shoes over the other pair of shoes. And I thought, oh my god. I was shoe shopping. So yes, I do understand how weird it can feel. Of course, the first lady maybe should have expected this coverage. I don't know. I think anybody who's been on Weight Watchers knows that she was using her bonus points. And she knows well(ph) to do that.


MARTIN: Well, but Galina, how about that? Because you do do lifestyle coverage and the fact is a lot of us enjoy it, I mean where we talk about what our public figures like to eat and like to wear. I mean the fact that she...

ESPINOZA: Oh, we don't talk about it. We obsess about it.

MARTIN: Yeah. So...

ESPINOZA: But I think unfortunately, this coverage reflected a tendency that, a disturbing tendency in media coverage today, which is to go to an extreme place. I feel like so much of American conversation these days is extreme. And it's like you have to be one thing or the other, i.e, you know, she has to be on this pedestal of virtuous eating at all times, which A) is not her message. But also it's just not realistic and not constructive and not helpful to people who are genuinely trying to lead fit healthy lives. And to kind of categorize things as an either/or situation is kind of what the problem with it is with the American approach to healthy eating in the first place.

You know, we have such a culture of like either full on pleasure or denial. You know, the binge or the starve. And it's kind of just disturbing on so many levels that this meal was taken to that place.

MARTIN: And Duchess, do you know what I wanted to ask you? We hear a lot in conservative media that conservative women feel, at least they say they feel at this point, and people writing in the conservative's press feel that conservative women are subjected to what they view as a double standard, that their gaffes are highlighted. People like Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin, that their gaffes are highlighted in ways that they feel that other people's or not. I want to pose the opposite question to you.

I wondering, do you feel that something about, you know, on the one hand it's obvious the Healthy Eating Initiative is one of the reasons why people think they can talk about it. But I do wonder if you feel that there's some other subtext here, is that about, you know, her body or that criticism of her in general seems to take on a different edge by other perspectives. And I just wanted to get your perspective on that.

HARRIS: Oh, sure. Well, I'm coming from the land of Michele Bachmann and I can definitely say that there's this double standard. There's nothing that the first lady can do right in many people's books. And so this is a woman who's had an organic garden. This is a woman that's tried to make public policy initiatives in public schools about what we eat in the cafeteria. And as you said, you know, the moving campaign. And now were talking about a visit to Shake Shack. It makes no sense whatsoever.

And I mean this is someone who has degrees from Princeton and Harvard and this is the road were going down.

MARTIN: But when you say double standard, what do you mean? What do you mean by that? You feel...

HARRIS: That we have to police this black woman's body, which as Danielle was saying, a fit body, an active body. And I'm wondering, we need to ask, you know, what did Rush Limbaugh eat yesterday, or for the last 20 years?

MARTIN: Well, let me just tell you what I'm upset about, is that I've gone to Shake Shack three times and the line was too long for me to get in, so I...


MARTIN: I want to investigate was there some special treatment, there because I'm trying to get that salty caramel shake, okay? I'm trying to get that shake. Finally, ladies, before we let you go, I'm not sure we have enough time to give this subject what it deserves. But I am interested in your perspective on this whole question of the naming of alleged rape victims. This issue has, it's become standard in the news media in this country to not do so. Now other people are saying it's time to let that go in light of the whole Dominique Strauss-Kahn case, which we don't have time - I just wanted to ask, Connie, what do you think?

SCHULTZ: What I find stunning by some of the recent coverage is that people have these opinions about how we should be naming the women and no one's talking to the women, even anonymously, to ask them how would you feel if this were as a policy that we started naming victims of rape? I don't know about the other women. I'd love to hear the opinions on that. I think always it is up to the woman whether she wants to be named. And I don't think we, this notion that we will single-handedly as the media eradicate the stigma of rape if we start naming women.

You know, Nicholas Kristof had a wonderful piece on this last year explaining why he named a nine-year-old rape victim in the Congo, and it was quite a process with the mother's approval and how much they had to prepare this family because they didn't even know about the Internet and the whole notion of The New York Times. This is a huge responsibility we bear. And the notion that we're humanizing - I put that in, you know, quotation marks, any victim - humanizing for whom? The first human I want us to be concerned about is the woman who's been raped.

MARTIN: I think unfortunately we don't have time to get additional opinions. But I think let's come back and revisit this subject because I definitely want to hear more about it. Especially Danielle. You recently had an interesting situation where you interviewed the woman who had been the target of some salacious tweets, causing a member of Congress to resign, and I want to hear about, you know, the decision you made to figure out - to name her or not. So we'll have to come back and talk about that.

You just heard Connie Schultz. She's a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and columnist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. She was nice enough to join us from member station WCPN in Cleveland. Also with us, Duchess Harris, an associate professor of American Studies at Macalester College and author of "Black Feminist Politics from Kennedy to Obama." She was with us from Minneapolis. Galina Espinoza was with us from New York. She's the co-president and editorial director of Latina magazine. And here in Washington, D.C., with me, Danielle Belton, author of the pop culture and politics blog The Black Snob. Thank you all so much for joining us.

ESPINOZA: Thank you.

BELTON: Thank you.

SCHULTZ: Thank you.

HARRIS: Thanks.


MARTIN: And that's our program for today. I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Let's talk more tomorrow.

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