ABC's Claire Shipman: Women 'Lust' After 'Rock Star' Barack Obama
"Good Morning America" reporter Claire Shipman on Friday asked the author of a new biography on Michelle Obama how the candidate's wife deals with her husband being "lusted after by all of these women out there" on the campaign trail. While talking to "Michelle" author Liz Mundy, Shipman cooed, "And, of course, it's wonderful, but not always easy when your husband becomes a political rock star overnight."
As though the ABC correspondent were reading from a press release, she opened the segment by fawning: "And over the years, Michelle Obama in her personal journey has achieved a remarkable feat. She's carved a role for herself a path that both embraces and transcends race." Later, Shipman insisted, "An incredible journey that even more than her husband's is emblematic of the country's racial transformation." At no point, did Shipman, who once rhapsodized about the "fluid poetry" of the presidential candidate, discuss any of Michelle Obama's gaffes during the 2008 campaign, such as her famous comment in February that "for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country."
On Tuesday's GMA, Shipman interrogated undecided voters about whether they could be unconsciously racist and probed, "Anybody think he's uppity?"
A transcript of the segment, which aired at 7:31am on October 31, follows:
ROBIN ROBERTS: The other would-be first lady is Michelle Obama, of course. And what has really shaped her these last couple of years? So, we're going to go to our GMA senior correspondent, Claire Shipman, who is in Washington with that story. Good morning, Claire.
CLAIRE SHIPMAN: Good morning, Robin. You know, if it is ultimately Michelle Obama who moves into this executive mansion, she will be making history, America's first African-American first lady. And what a role, especially considering the fact that it was just earlier this year, she uncovered the fact that she is the direct descendant of South Carolina slaves. And over the years, Michelle Obama in her personal journey has achieved a remarkable feat. She's carved a role for herself a path that both embraces and transcends race. She's always savored the cocoon of family and the comfort of her working class black neighborhood in Chicago. But her parents were determined that she'd experience and thrive in a world of different colors.
LIZ MUNDY (author): I think that Michelle Obama could legitimately argue that she has more friends of other races than most Americans do.
SHIPMAN: Liza Mundy, the author of a new biography of Michelle Obama, says from an early age, Michelle moved naturally between worlds. First, into a more mixed magnate high school.
MUNDY: I actually found a photograph of her in her high school shot for the National Honor Society, where she's standing by a white classmate, Christie McNulty. And at the last moment before the shutter went off, she reached around and she put her arm around Christie's shoulder. And I interviewed Christy, who lives in Phoenix now and recalls that moment. And recalls even then as a person who could, as I said, move easily between social groups. And I think she still is that kind of person.
SHIPMAN: At heavily-white Princeton, the experience was more profound.
MUNDY: She writes in her thesis that being at Princeton was the first time she really realized that she was black.
SHIPMAN: But it was trademark Michelle not to hide, but to plunge in and examine that very issue in her senior thesis. How black students being groomed to move into a whiter world could stay connected to their culture. And that's remained her mission, really, for 25 years. The high-achieving Harvard Law graduate, was welcomed at the tony Chicago law firm of Sidley Austin. She was one of a few black associates. But as in Princeton, as in high school, she was always utterly sure of herself.
SHIPMAN: She certainly has never lacked in confidence.
MUNDY: No. No. She's never lacked in confidence and a fair amount of chutzpah. And I did talk to a supervisor who said she was probably the most ambitious associate he had ever seen. And she at one point go over his head to try to get more interesting work. And I think she really enjoyed being a boss.
SHIPMAN: From what I read, too, that, that Barack Obama talks about her as the boss.
MUNDY: He does say, you know, I got to check with the boss before I make a commitment to whatever social engagement.
SHIPMAN: They met as young lawyers at Sidley Austin and discovered they had a shared passion for community service.
MICHELLE OBAMA [at a rally]: Yes, we can!
SHIPMAN: Liza Mundy also writes about a personal struggle the couple had, one so many women face. Michelle suddenly feeling powerless and resentful as her husband's blooming political career had him on the road while she was doing the majority of work with their daughters.
MUNDY: He's talked about it in his book, in "The Audacity of Hope." You know, he says that early on there was a point in their marriage when they were barely on speaking terms.
SHIPMAN: She has cut back again on her career and enlisted her mother to help.
MUNDY: She has said there have been times when she had considered anyway, being a stay-at-home mom. I think like many women, once she had children, the work place became, it was still important, but it wasn't all important.
SHIPMAN: And, of course, it's wonderful, but not always easy when your husband becomes a political rock star overnight.
[Clip of Obama Girl]
SHIPMAN: Any sense of whether she was worried about having this, suddenly, this husband who is, you know, lusted after by all of these women out there, on his own?
MUNDY: She says that, you know, there's trust between them. And if there weren't, they wouldn't have much of a marriage.
BARBARA WALTERS: But we thought you were very sexy looking.
MUNDY: She said it's been a revelation that people like Barbara Walter seek him out. And, you know, will come up to them at red carpet events and introduce themselves. And she'll say, I know who you are. And sort of coming around to the idea that they're on the A-list, too.
SHIPMAN: An incredible journey that even more than her husband's is emblematic of the country's racial transformation.
MUNDY: I think she's a person who has grown a lot in her life. I see her has a person who has moved through a lot of contested landscapes where opportunities were opening up. But there was still some resistance to her presence.
SHIPMAN: Perhaps no landscape as challenging as the one she's navigated this year. Getting sea legs and battling stereotypes on the campaign trail. [Picture of the New Yorker "fist bump" cover appears onscreen.] Does she change the perception of black women in this country?
MUNDY: She talks a lot about that. And she has said in numerous venues that she really hopes that the campaign, if it achieves nothing else, achieves sort of broadening American sense of who African-Americans are.
SHIPMAN: Now, if they win, Michelle Obama said her top priority will be getting her daughters settled. Making them feel comfortable. Figuring out schools. And also making good on that campaign promise that, win or lose, those girls are going to get a puppy. And Malia has already been doing a lot of research we're told, Robin.