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It's Friday, and that means it's time for the week's winners and sinners.

WINNER: Matt Lauer. Yes, that Matt Lauer -- the man who munched mooseburgers in Alaska in Governor Sarah Palin's kitchen and did one of the world's softest interviews with the woman who shoots her "big game" from a plane.

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What follows might seem like a small thing compared to that  journalistic lapse, but given the context, I think it matters in a big way and deserves praise.

The context is morning network TV, a world dominated by hype, sillinesss and the sensational. This week, it featured the grandmother of the octuplets talking nonsense (in a three-part interview no less), the tragic chimp attack often told with a snicker by empty-headed newscasters and "new evidence" on a missing child in Florida.

Into this morass of make-believe news and tips on dieting, came NBC's Today Show on Thursday with a story on First Lady Michelle Obama's influence on fashion. "She's a one-woman stimulus package," the report said as it then went on to claim that she is single-handedly able to drive such huge sales that it could lift the entire fashion industry through harsh economic times.

Following the report, Lauer sat down for an interview with Cindi Leive, the editor-in-chief of Glamour magazine, and went right to work immediately questioning the "one-woman stimulus package" theme of the piece. Is that true, is that accurate? he asked.

Absolutely not, Leive said calling it flat-out "over the top." Lauer agreed and tried to give the report some sense of reality, saying he believes she can drive sales for individual designers like Jimmy Wu who designed the dress she wore to one of the inaugural balls. They also talked about the impact she had on J. Crew sales by wearing those clothes and dressing her children in them as well.

But, bottom line, that's a far cry from the theme of the report that she is so influential she can somehow elevate sales for the whole fashion industry through these incredibly bad economic times. Thanks to Lauer for that ray of journalistic context and responsibility is a realm that thrives on overstatement.

WINNER: Tonight is Conan O'Brien's last late, latenight show before moving to Los Angeles to take over the Tonight Show from Jay Leno later this year.  (O'Brien will, however, still be following Leno, who will move up to a 10 p.m. prime-time spot at NBC in August.)

I still don't like O'Brien's smirky, Harvard-boy style of humor, or how he tried to cut it both ways by going back to work during the writers' strike, and then acting like he was in total solidarity with the writers even as he continued to cash his paycheck. And I wonder how he is going to play at the earlier 11:30 p.m. timeslot. But let's give credit where credit is due, he did well for NBC, had a strong and long run, and earned the promotion. It should be a good show tonight.

SINNER: Speaking of endless octuplets coverage, no one this week topped the CBS Early Show's Maggie Rodriguez and her "exclusive" three-part interview with Angela Suleman, the grandmother of the octuplets.

Here's a bit of this mighty exclusive:

Rodriguez: Tell me about the sperm donor. How did she (Nadya Suleman) meet him?

Angela Suleman: They were just friends.  And she's a very persuasive, well-spoken young woman -- and somehow she must have talked him into it.... 

Rodriguez: Did Nadya ever say that she admired Angelina Jolie or wanted to be like her?

Suleman: No.  She never mentions celebrities.  She's really not into that kind of thing....                                                                        

Rodriguez: People say that she even had plastic surgery to look like her.

Suleman: No.  No, I don't think she ever did. She gained 130 pounds, so that makes a difference in the facial -- you know, in her features, in her wherever, you know, when you gain 130 pounds, goodness, I'd hate this to happen to me.  I probably would change a lot too....                 

Rodriguez:  Do you see yourself as sort of a victim?
Suleman: No, I'm not a victim because I can just get up and go.  And I think I'm gonna do this very soon.  I'm gonna go visit my sister in Europe and my friends and just live it up a little.  
 Maggie: Do you think these kids are victims?
Angela: Not really.  You know, they are really very happy children.  They're very happy.  They love their grandma and their mommy.  And, you know, I think love is the main thing here.  When they know they're loved, things will work out.  They'll be normal.
"Normal" -- what a peculiar word to hear in the world of network morning show television.
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