FILE - First lady Michelle Obama addresses the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's 42nd Annual Phoenix Awards dinner in Washington, in this, Sept. 22, 2012 file photo. Mrs. Obama was speaking Tuesday evening June 4, 2013 at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in Washington. According to a pool report from a reporter who attended the event, an audience member started shouting in support of an executive order on gay rights halfway through Mrs. Obama's remarks. Mrs. Obama moved toward the protester and said the person would either, quote, "listen to me or you can take the mic, but I'm leaving." AP

This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal

Not Having It

First lady Michelle Obama doesn't differ from her husband in many ways. But in the past two weeks, she and President Obama each gave a clinic on handling a heckler. In his May 23 speech at the National Defense University, the president went out of his way to be patient with Medea Benjamin, an activist with the antiwar group Code Pink. He paused; he listened; he asked her to let him continue; he urged restraint. Finally, when she was escorted out, he departed from his text and said, "The voice of that woman is worth paying attention to." But his wife took a different tack when an LGBT activist, Ellen Sturtz of GetEQUAL, heckled her at a fundraiser Tuesday evening. Obama walked over to the woman and snapped, "You can listen, or you can take the mic. But I'm leaving." The other attendees would hear nothing of that and shouted for her to remain. The heckler, instead, left. Which approach is best? Hard to say. But press secretary Jay Carney wasn't about to break with the first lady. "It's my personal opinion that she handled it brilliantly," he told reporters.

George E. Condon Jr.

Those Damn Bloggers

Whether bloggers count as journalists has mostly been a matter of semantics for reporter types. But as Congress weighs a media shield law in response to the Associated Press subpoena scandal, the question is gaining urgency on Capitol Hill. Speaking to reporters this week, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., took on the issue — and stumbled. "Who is a journalist is a question we need to ask ourselves," he said. "Is any blogger out there, saying anything — do they deserve First Amendment protection? These are the issues of our times." The verbal slipup aside — of course bloggers are covered under the Bill of Rights! — Graham's riffing on constitutional law exposes one of the age-old tensions between journalism as a product and journalism as an activity. What the senator really meant to ask was whether bloggers deserve the specific protections of the First Amendment granted to the press. It might be time to retire the word "blogger" as an artifact of the aughts.

Brian Fung

Murmurs

Fairy Dustup Long after dozens of his fellow Republican lawmakers had filed out of a basement room of the Capitol on Wednesday, Rep. Steve King of Iowa emerged, red-faced and agitated, from a contentious session on immigration reform. "I feel like Rumpelstiltskin," he said. "I went to sleep last year before the election believing that all my colleagues believed in the rule of law, and opposed amnesty, and understood the impact of amnesty. And then I woke up the morning after the election, and they believed something different." It appears King was actually thinking of Rip van Winkle. Rumpelstiltskin was the legendary imp who spun straw into gold. For some in the GOP, that might actually be the better metaphor when it comes to the immigration bill.

For the Girls New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has a one-word answer for anyone who asks whether she'll run for president: No. The first-term Republican, in town for a major reelection-campaign fundraiser hosted by GOP luminaries, says she's happy with her current job and she owes it to a very specific segment of her constituency to serve out her two terms. "As the first Hispanic female governor in the country, I have a lot of little girls who come up to me, and they know who I am. They know that I'm the governor," she told National Journal. "They get big-eyed, and they call me by my first name. And I've got to set an example for them and pave a path for them."

Not Having It

First lady Michelle Obama doesn't differ from her husband in many ways. But in the past two weeks, she and President Obama each gave a clinic on handling a heckler. In his May 23 speech at the National Defense University, the president went out of his way to be patient with Medea Benjamin, an activist with the antiwar group Code Pink. He paused; he listened; he asked her to let him continue; he urged restraint. Finally, when she was escorted out, he departed from his text and said, "The voice of that woman is worth paying attention to." But his wife took a different tack when an LGBT activist, Ellen Sturtz of GetEQUAL, heckled her at a fundraiser Tuesday evening. Obama walked over to the woman and snapped, "You can listen, or you can take the mic. But I'm leaving." The other attendees would hear nothing of that and shouted for her to remain. The heckler, instead, left. Which approach is best? Hard to say. But press secretary Jay Carney wasn't about to break with the first lady. "It's my personal opinion that she handled it brilliantly," he told reporters.

George E. Condon Jr.

Those Damn Bloggers

Whether bloggers count as journalists has mostly been a matter of semantics for reporter types. But as Congress weighs a media shield law in response to the Associated Press subpoena scandal, the question is gaining urgency on Capitol Hill. Speaking to reporters this week, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., took on the issue — and stumbled. "Who is a journalist is a question we need to ask ourselves," he said. "Is any blogger out there, saying anything — do they deserve First Amendment protection? These are the issues of our times." The verbal slipup aside — of course bloggers are covered under the Bill of Rights! — Graham's riffing on constitutional law exposes one of the age-old tensions between journalism as a product and journalism as an activity. What the senator really meant to ask was whether bloggers deserve the specific protections of the First Amendment granted to the press. It might be time to retire the word "blogger" as an artifact of the aughts.

Brian Fung

Murmurs

Fairy Dustup Long after dozens of his fellow Republican lawmakers had filed out of a basement room of the Capitol on Wednesday, Rep. Steve King of Iowa emerged, red-faced and agitated, from a contentious session on immigration reform. "I feel like Rumpelstiltskin," he said. "I went to sleep last year before the election believing that all my colleagues believed in the rule of law, and opposed amnesty, and understood the impact of amnesty. And then I woke up the morning after the election, and they believed something different." It appears King was actually thinking of Rip van Winkle. Rumpelstiltskin was the legendary imp who spun straw into gold. For some in the GOP, that might actually be the better metaphor when it comes to the immigration bill.

For the Girls New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has a one-word answer for anyone who asks whether she'll run for president: No. The first-term Republican, in town for a major reelection-campaign fundraiser hosted by GOP luminaries, says she's happy with her current job and she owes it to a very specific segment of her constituency to serve out her two terms. "As the first Hispanic female governor in the country, I have a lot of little girls who come up to me, and they know who I am. They know that I'm the governor," she told National Journal. "They get big-eyed, and they call me by my first name. And I've got to set an example for them and pave a path for them."

This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.

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