Posts tagged with "Former First Lady Michelle Obama"

Obamas to end exclusive deal with Spotify

April 22, 2022

Higher Ground, the media company started by former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, is ending its exclusive podcast deal with Spotify and is shopping for other partners in the podcasting space, reports Variety.

The Obamas are exiting their exclusive pact with Spotify, originally inked in 2019, after being frustrated with the company’s exclusive terms: They want to have their podcast programming distributed as widely as possible, according to two sources familiar with the situation.

Higher Ground also has disagreed with Spotify over how many of its shows would feature the former POTUS and FLOTUS, as first reported by reported by Bloomberg.

Higher Ground’s current deal with Spotify runs through October. According to one source, Spotify declined to make an offer to renew the agreement.

Podcasts that Higher Ground has produced for Spotify will continue to launch on the streaming platform through the fall, according to the Bloomberg report. But the company is currently in talks with other audio distribution companies, including Amazon-owned Audible and iHeartMedia, in hopes of reaching a nonexclusive deal for its podcast content.

Higher Ground’s first podcast for Spotify was “The Michelle Obama Podcast,” released in mid-2020, which at one point had ranked as the most-listened-to Spotify original to date. The company also produced “Renegades: Born in the USA,” a series of conversations between Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen, released on Spotify last year.

In January, Higher Ground’s “The Big Hit Show,” focused on transformational moments of pop culture, premiered on Spotify. The company also released “Tell Them, I Am,” a podcast collection of universal stories from Muslim voices on the platform.

Spotify will retain certain distribution rights to “The Michelle Obama Podcast” and other Higher Ground shows in perpetuity. In addition, wherever the Obamas take their next podcast deal, it is likely that those new projects would be distributed on Spotify on a nonexclusive basis.

Separately, Higher Ground has a pact to produce films and TV shows exclusively for Netflix. The company’s first film, “American Factory,” won the 2019 Oscar for best documentary feature.

Reps for both Spotify and Higher Ground declined to comment.

Research contact: @Variety

Michelle Obama delivers urgent message about this year’s midterm elections

January 13, 2022

Former First Lady Michelle Obama has a message for Americans ahead of the 2022 midterm elections: “We’ve got to vote like the future of our democracy depends on it.”

In a letter titled “Fight For Our Vote,” which was published on Sunday, January 9, as an ad in The New York Times, Obama and her voting rights organization, When We All Vote, called on Americans to continue engaging in democracy amid a historic attack on voting rights.

CNN reports that Obama’s letter—which comes as Congress has yet to move on voting rights legislation at the federal level—was signed by 30 other civic engagement, voting rights and voter mobilization organizations including the NAACP, Stacey Abrams’ Fair Fight Action, Voto Latino Foundation, NextGen America, LeBron James’ More Than A Vote, and Rock the Vote.

“We stand united in our conviction to organize and turn out voters in the 2022 midterm elections, and make our democracy work for all of us,” Obama wrote in the letter.

The former FLOTUS laid out a plan of action and said, within the next year, When We All Vote and the coalition of other organizations will work to “recruit and train at least 100,000 volunteers” and “register more than a million new voters.”

Obama said the coalition will also enlist thousands of lawyers to protect American voters, work to educate Americans on how to ensure their vote is safe, and encourage at least 100,000 Americans to call on their Senators in support of the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act—two proposed pieces of legislation that have stalled in the Senate as a result of the filibuster, which requires 60 votes to overcome.

Obama’s letter—published days after the one-year anniversary of the U.S. Capitol riot—referenced the insurrection and the slew of voting restrictions passed at the state level across the country in its wake. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has vowed the chamber will vote on whether to change the Senate’s legislative filibuster rules by Martin Luther King Jr. Day, January 17, if Republicans block Democrats’ latest effort to advance voting rights legislation.

Citing obstacles to voting access throughout history, Obama wrote that in 2022, Americans must continue to fight for their rights.

“Generations of Americans have persevered through poll taxes, literacy tests, and laws designed to strip away their power—and they’ve done it by organizing, by protesting, and, most importantly, by overcoming the barriers in front of them in order to vote. And now, we’ve got to do the same,” Obama wrote.

Obama added: “We must give Congress no choice but to act decisively to protect the right to vote and make the ballot box more accessible for everyone.”

Research contact: @CNN

Michelle Obama: Trump ‘cannot meet the moment’

August 19, 2020

In the keynote address of the first day of the Democratic National Convention, former First Lady Michelle Obama hailed Joe Biden as a “profoundly decent man” and highlighted his experience as vice president under her husband’s administration. She also pulled no punches—asserting that the current president is not up to the job, Politico reports.

Obama said that she’d seen Biden at work and that he’d proved himself capable of handling the demands of the job. She cited several of the Obama administration’s achievements as evidence of Biden’s aptness for office, from expanding health care under the Affordable Care Act to rallying allies to combat climate change.

“You simply cannot fake your way through this job,” Obama said. “Being president doesn’t change who you are. It reveals who you are.”

“Well, a presidential election can reveal who we are, too,“ she continued.

Obama cast the election as about not only policy but also character. She described the Trump era as one filled with division and devoid of empathy. She expressed fear for the values being passed on to future generations — as the national leadership demeans the Black Lives Matter movement, as the wearing of masks in public has become a political act, and as winning has become everything “because as long as you come out on top, it doesn’t matter what happens to everyone else.”

According to the Politico report, to Michelle Obama, electing Biden means a return to civility and moral leadership in the White House — a change as important as any policy agenda Biden could offer.

“I know Joe,” she said, seated in a living room, wearing a thin, gold V-O-T-E necklace (which has since gone viral nationwide and is selling out), with family pictures and a Biden for President sign in the background. “He is a profoundly decent man, guided by faith.”

Obama is a widely popular figure in the Democratic Party, despite her never having held elected office. She has opened up about the challenges her husband‘s presidency presented to her family, and said during her Monday speech, “You know I hate politics.“

Her speech at the 2016 convention made headlines when she declared, “When they go low, we go high,” in reference to attacks on her family.

Still, she did not spare her criticisms, and made clear that to “go high“ did not mean to go soft. She issued a searing criticism of President Donald Trump for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Trump, she said, is “clearly in over his head“ and isn’t capable of fulfilling his responsibilities.

“He cannot meet this moment,” she said of Trump. “He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us.”

“It is what it is,” she said, an apparent jab at Trump for the same line he used when confronted with the death toll from the coronavirus.

Research contact: @politico

Angelina Jolie, Bill Gates top global most-admired list

April 12, 2018

The number-one most-admired woman in the world does not even make the top ten on America’s list.

Based on findings of YouGov’s annual research on the most-revered public figures on the planet, released on April 11, Bill Gates and Angelina Jolie are the favorites among the 37,000 people in 35 countries who responded to the poll.

In the United States, the two top picks are a husband-and-wife team—former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama—both of whom took second place on the global list.

Tech pioneer and philanthropist Gates has topped the list every time YouGov has conducted the survey, while Jolie has also come first in each of the three surveys since 2015 when separate male and female categories were introduced.

Worldwide, the top ten men (in order of popularity) include: Bill Gates, Barack Obama, Jackie Chan, Xi Jinping, Jack Ma, Vladimir Putin, Dalai Lama, Narendra Modi, Amitabh Bachchan, and Cristiano Rinaldo.

Top women globally are Angelina Jolie, Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Queen Elizabeth II, Hilary Clinton, Emma Watson, Malala Yousafzai, Angela Merkel, and Taylor Swift.

Entertainers dominate the female top twenty, with 14 of the most admired women being actresses, singers or TV presenters (although some, like Emma Watson and Angelina Jolie, are also notable for their humanitarian work). By contrast, the list of most admired men contains more people from political, business and sporting backgrounds.

Former U.S. presidential couple Barack and Michelle Obama occupy the two second place spots, representing a three-position rise for Michelle and no change for Barack. The 44th American president is 15 places higher than the man that replaced him – with Donald Trump going up one place since the last study. In fact, the last U.S. president ranks higher than the incumbent in all countries surveyed bar one: Russia.

In the United States, the top-ten list of men includes: Barack Obama, Donald Trump, Billy Graham, Pope Francis, Bill Gates, Dwayne Johnson, Clint Eastwood, Bernie Sanders, Dalai Lama and Elon Musk.

The list of most-admired women comprises Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Queen Elizabeth II, Hillary Clinton, Ellen DeGeneres, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Condoleeza Rice, Malala Yousafzai, Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Melania Trump.

Thirteen Americans – six men and seven women – made the global list. While Gates and Obama held on to their spots from last year, Donald Trump and Warren Buffett—two figures lauded for their business acumen—improved their rankings from the last poll. The list also welcomes two male newcomers: Elon Musk and Michael Jordan.

Many of the women, save Hillary Clinton, also see improvements in their ranks. Elizabeth Warren makes her first appearance this year on YouGov’s Most Admired list—at number 13 in the United States and number 20 globally.

Research contact: matthew.smith@yougov.com