Right-wing media are accusing first lady Michelle Obama of “play[ing] the race card” after she rebutted claims that she is an “angry black woman.” Many of these same right-wing media figures, however, have for years invoked that very stereotype when criticizing her.
Michelle Obama: People Have Tried To Paint Me As An “Angry Black Woman”
Michelle Obama Shot Down Image That She Is “Some Kind Of Angry Black Woman.” In an interview with CBS News' Gayle King, Michelle Obama noted that she has been consistently painted as “some kind of angry black woman,” and added: “There will always be people who don't like me.” From CBS News:
The Kantor book portrays a White House where tensions developed between Mrs. Obama and former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and former press secretary and presidential adviser Robert Gibbs. The book, titled “The Obamas,” describes Mrs. Obama as having gone through an evolution from struggle to fulfillment in her role at the White House, while labeling her an “unrecognized force” in pursuing the president's goals. Neither the president nor his wife agreed to be interviewed for the book.
“I do care deeply about my husband,” Mrs. Obama said in the CBS appearance. “I am one of his biggest allies. I am one of his biggest confidants.” But she sought to put aside “this notion that I sit in meetings.”
“I guess it's just more interesting to imagine this conflicted situation here,” she said. “That's been an image people have tried to paint of me since the day Barack announced, that I'm some kind of angry black woman.”
“There will always be people who don't like me,” Mrs. Obama added, and said she could live with that.
Mrs. Obama said that she's “just trying to be me, and I just hope that over time, that people get to know me.” [CBS News, 1/11/12]
Damage Control: Right-Wing Media Accuse First Lady of “Play[ing] The Race Card”
Limbaugh: “Imagine That. She's Mad At Somebody For Portraying Her As Mad.” Discussing Michelle Obama's comments to CBS, Rush Limbaugh said:
LIMBAUGH: Yes, I see Michelle Obama's mad while saying she's not. She's tired of the angry black woman image that she's got. She's mad at the New York Times reporter for stereotyping her as an angry black woman. Imagine that. She's mad at somebody for portraying her as mad. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 1/11/12]
Jim Hoft: “Michelle Obama Plays Race Card.” Gateway Pundit blogger Jim Hoft linked to the CBS News report and claimed Michelle Obama “played the race card”:
[The Gateway Pundit, 1/11/12]
Fox Nation: “DAMAGE CONTROL.” Fox Nation characterized Michelle Obama's comments as “damage control”:
[Fox Nation, 1/11/12]
Michelle Obama Is Right: Right-Wing Media Constantly Stereotype Her As An “Angry Black Woman”
Fox News' Bill O'Reilly: Michelle Obama “Looks Like An Angry Woman.” In September 2008, Fox News' Bill O'Reilly said:
O'REILLY: Now, I have a lot of people who call me on the radio and say she looks angry. And I have to say there's some validity to that. She looks like an angry woman. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 9/16/08]
Fox News' Sean Hannity: Michelle Obama Sounds “So Bitter And Angry.” On the May 11, 2008, edition of Fox News' Hannity's America, host Sean Hannity said: “This week, Michelle Obama still sounds angry. ... As Michelle Obama stumps for her husband to be the next president of the United States, it seems she doesn't have many positive things to say about America. In fact, her speeches always seem to have a negative tone to them. It seems her view of the United States is one of despair and hopelessness.” Hannity later added: “This raises the question, why does Michelle Obama sound so bitter and angry as she campaigns for the White House?” [Fox News' Hannity's America, 5/11/08, accessed via Nexis]
Fox News' Juan Williams: Michelle Obama “Sometimes Uses” A “Kind Of Militant Anger.” On the August 25, 2008, edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, Juan Williams said of Michelle Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention: “Well, she's got to be herself, but I do not think she can go for it all out in terms of this kind of militant anger that she sometimes uses, you know. She can be, it seems, rather cynical or dismissive of people,” adding, “I don't think she wants to get anywhere near the race issue, anywhere near the militance issue.” [Fox News' America's Newsroom, 8/25/08]
John McLaughlin: “You Don't Think She's A Black Militant?” During a February 2008 discussion of Michelle Obama on the syndicated program, The McLaughlin Group, host John McLaughlin suggested that he's heard Michelle Obama “leaves the impression” that “she has a chip on her shoulder.” He later asked guest Clarence Page, a columnist with the Chicago Tribune: “You don't think she's a black militant?” From the show:
McLAUGHLIN: Do you think Michelle -- do you think she leaves the impression -- not mine, but I've heard this -- that she has a chip on her shoulder?
PAGE: I think that's BS. You know, people say that she's got a chip on her shoulder. That's like, well, she's been the B-word, which is a classic, you know, epithet against women whenever they sound aggressive or they really state their mind. I --
McLAUGHLIN: You don't --
PAGE: I don't think that's true at all.
McLAUGHLIN: You don't think --
PAGE: Maybe I know her too well. She doesn't have a chip on her shoulder.
McLAUGHLIN: You don't think she's a black militant?
PAGE: A black militant? Well, I'm a black militant, John, and the Tribune hired me anyway. Seriously.
McLAUGHLIN: Really? [The McLaughlin Group, 2/24/08]
Tucker Carlson: Michelle Obama Has “Got A Chip On Her Shoulder.” In February 2008, Tucker Carlson, then an MSNBC host, said:
CARLSON: I know that we're not allowed -- look, the press is so deeply in the tank for Barack Obama that there's, like, hostility if you mention this. But I have thought from Day One that Michelle Obama, impressive as she is, clearly intelligent, very handsome, self-possessed -- I think that she's got a chip on her shoulder. I think it's very obvious, and I think she's a distraction from her husband's campaign. And I think that this is going to be a significant problem going forward. And I thought her remark was telling. I'm in the minority on this, but I did think it was telling. [MSNBC, Tucker, 2/21/08]
Limbaugh: Michelle Obama “Is Angry All The Time.” In June 2009, Limbaugh said:
LIMBAUGH: Now, I firmly believe that Barack Obama has, as part of his agenda, to cut this nation down to size. And I believe one of the reasons for it, aside from whatever ideological beliefs he has, is that he's angry. This is a mad guy. He hung around people who were mad all of his life. His wife is angry all the time. Sonia Sotomayor is angry. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 6/4/09]
Limbaugh On Michelle Obama: “Why The Anger? Why The Balled Up Fists? Why The Rage?” On the July 13, 2010, edition of his show, Limbaugh talked about a speech Michelle Obama gave to the NAACP and said:
LIMBAUGH: Michelle “my belle” Obama at the NAALCP doing a keynote urging greater intensity. Something's not right. Something's not right. I mean, it should be -- shouldn't these people be happier than ever? I'm being serious. For the first time in over 200 years, a black man runs the country. His wife, a black woman, is first lady. Nobody ever thought that day would happen, certainly not 20 to 30 years ago. And here it has happened, and yet, the rancor, the anger, the outrage, the divisions in the country are greater than ever.
How is that? Why is this happening? Why is there not optimism and happiness? If not happiness, why not contentment? Why not a sense of accomplishment and achievement? It is a major achievement for the country and for the Obamas. Why the anger? Why the balled-up fists? Why the rage? [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 7/13/10]
O'Reilly: “I Don't Want To Go On A Lynching Party Against Michelle Obama Unless There's Evidence” She Thinks America “Is A Bad Country.” In 2008, O'Reilly addressed a caller to his radio show, who had baselessly called Michelle Obama “very angry” and a “militant woman.” O'Reilly said it was “not fair to Michelle Obama” to level those charges without direct evidence. He went on to say:
O'REILLY: That's wrong. And I don't want to go on a lynching party against Michelle Obama unless there's evidence, hard facts, that say this is how the woman really feels. If that's how she really feels -- that America is a bad country or a flawed nation, whatever -- then that's legit. We'll track it down. [Westwood One, The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly, 2/19/08]