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NBC: Are Obama Daughters the President's 'Secret Weapon'?

Trying to do some cheerleading for President Obama on Friday, NBC's Today touted the First Daughters as a major boon to his reelection, as co-host Matt Lauer proclaimed: "...with the election just about five months away, Malia and Sasha are stepping forward a little bit. So are they a good way to connect with voters?...are they his secret weapon in the upcoming campaign?"

Introducing the pro-Obama fluff as legitimate news, co-host Ann Curry talked about the President as if he were a summer action flick: "Like most parents, President Obama loves talking about his kids. But during an election year, those stories might also just help him out at the box office."

White House correspondent Kristen Welker began the fawning report by declaring: "President Obama usually leaves the family at home when he hits the campaign trail, but he doesn't hesitate to remind voters that he doesn't live alone here at the White House. In fact, political analysts say with less than five months to go until election day, it seems like we're hearing about the First Daughters more and more."

Welker proceeded to promote sound bites of Barack and Michelle Obama using their children as campaign talking points: "On the campaign trail.... During serious moments, like the President's endorsement of same-sex marriage last month....And just this week, the First Lady got emotional while talking about them in Colorado."

Welker seemed completely unfazed by the cynical tactic: "So are the President's references a careful campaign calculation? Political analysts say intentional or not, the mentions could resonate with key voters." The Washington Post's Melinda Henneberger chimed in: "The fact that he's pitching to women voters is a big reason that he's been talking so much about his daughters in this campaign so far and will continue to do so."

Citing those same "analysts," Welker explained, "[they] say the Obama girls humanize their dad, who has at times been criticized as being aloof."

Attempting to further bolster the case, Welker found another left-leaning expert: "Presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin notes that Malia and Sasha are the youngest White House residents since John John and Caroline Kennedy." Goodwin followed: "And we've had young families in the White House, whether it was Abraham Lincoln's or Theodore Roosevelt's or JFK's, there was a merriment in the White House, a vitality, and the country responded to the presidents even more."

Welker did briefly highlight how Mitt Romney has put his adult children on the campaign trail, explaining how the Republican presidential candidate, "often seen as robotic, has turned to his five sons to help show off his lighter side."

Welker also managed to work in former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, as an example of how a candidate's children can cause problems for a campaign: "But the spotlight can be harsh. As the mother of five, Sarah Palin reached many soccer moms, but also faced scrutiny for her daughter Bristol's teen pregnancy."

While NBC's Today found time to analyze the political impact of the Obama daughters, the network morning show failed to offer a single mention of the growing Fast and Furious gun-walking scandal. On Thursday, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams was good enough to give a 30-second follow-up on the story, the only mention on the Big Three evening newscasts.

Here is a full transcript of the June 22 Today report:

7:31AM ET TEASE:

ANN CURRY: And coming up just a moment – in just a moment, the Obama girls.

MATT LAUER: That's right. The President and First Lady have kept them largely off limits over the last several years. But now with the election just about five months away, Malia and Sasha are stepping forward a little bit. So are they a good way to connect with voters? We're going to have more on that coming up.

7:40AM ET TEASE:

LAUER: Up next, are they his secret weapon in the upcoming campaign? The President's daughters front and center right after this.

7:43AM ET SEGMENT:

CURRY: Like most parents, President Obama loves talking about his kids. But during an election year, those stories might also just help him out at the box office. NBC's Kristen Welker is at the White House this morning with more on this story. Kristen, good morning.

KRISTEN WELKER: Hey, good morning to you Ann. Well, President Obama usually leaves the family at home when he hits the campaign trail, but he doesn't hesitate to remind voters that he doesn't live alone here at the White House. In fact, political analysts say with less than five months to go until election day, it seems like we're hearing about the First Daughters more and more.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Politics As Family Business; More Mentions of First Daughters In Obama Campaign]

With the exception of a occasional family appearance, the First Daughters are typically shielded from the public spotlight. But lately, we have heard a lot about them. On the campaign trail:

BARACK OBAMA: I want my daughters to have the same opportunities as your sons.

WELKER: During serious moments, like the President's endorsement of same-sex marriage last month:

OBAMA: You know, Malia and Sasha, they've got friends whose parents are same-sex couples.

WELKER: And just this week, the First Lady got emotional while talking about them in Colorado:

MICHELLE OBAMA: That is what I think about every night when I tuck my girls in. I think about the world I want to leave for them. And for all of our sons and daughters. I think about how I want to do for them what my dad did for me.

WELKER: So are the President's references a careful campaign calculation? Political analysts say intentional or not, the mentions could resonate with key voters.

MELINDA HENNEBERGER [THE WASHINGTON POST]: The fact that he's pitching to women voters is a big reason that he's been talking so much about his daughters in this campaign so far and will continue to do so.

WELKER: Analysts also say the Obama girls humanize their dad, who has at times been criticized as being aloof. Presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin notes that Malia and Sasha are the youngest White House residents since John John and Caroline Kennedy.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN: And we've had young families in the White House, whether it was Abraham Lincoln's or Theodore Roosevelt's or JFK's, there was a merriment in the White House, a vitality, and the country responded to the presidents even more.

WELKER: Adult children can be just as powerful on the trail.

ROMNEY SON: As you can tell, this is a family affair.

WELKER: Mitt Romney, often seen as robotic, has turned to his five sons to help show off his lighter side.

CONAN O'BRIEN: True or false, your dad's hair is chiselled out of imported African mahogany?

ROMNEY SON: That is true.

WELKER: Personalized accounts that can open a window into their parents character, a window which might otherwise remain closed.

But the spotlight can be harsh. As the mother of five, Sarah Palin reached many soccer moms, but also faced scrutiny for her daughter Bristol's teen pregnancy. And first daughters going back to Amy Carter have struggled growing up in the public eye.

Still, analysts say, the benefits likely outweigh any potential downside.

HENNEBERGER: People very much understand that politics is a family business. And they expect to see and get to know the family. Because after all, they're going to have the First Family in their lives, too, and their living rooms for the next four years.

WELKER: Now analysts also point out that today's media-saturated world plays a big role in all of this, with things like Facebook and Twitter. Voters really expect to get an up close look inside a candidate's life. Ann.

CURRY: Alright, Kristen Welker this morning. Kristen, thanks.

-- Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Kyle Drennen on Twitter.