WashPost Gushes All Over Michelle's 'More Authentic' Racial Discussion at Commencements

June 12th, 2015 9:54 AM

Let’s hope Michelle Obama is keeping a scrapbook of all the gushy positive stories written for her by Washington Post reporter Krissah Thompson. In Friday’s Post, the Style section front page carried a foot-high picture of the First Lady in a black robe and the all-caps headline “MICHELLE OBAMA COMMENCES TELLING IT AS SHE SEES IT.” 

All around the picture were little yellow quote bubbles of her most inspirational quotations from her commencement speeches with “unusual candor” on race and class. The Thompson article began with Michelle speaking at “her old stamping ground” on Chicago’s South Side:

“With every word you speak, with every choice you make and with the way you carry yourself each day, you can write a new story about our communities,” she said. “That’s a burden that President Obama and I proudly carry every single day in the White House, because we know that everything we do and say can either confirm the myths about folks like us — or it can change those myths.”

As usual, the conservative critics got eleven words in, edgewise: 

She probably was not surprised by the blowback after talking at Tuskegee University in Alabama about the ways racism has personally affected her. Sean Hannity said Obama displayed a “bitterness” and a “lack of appreciation for the opportunities” afforded her; Laura Ingraham, another conservative pundit, called the commencement address “a litany of victimization.”

Dear Krissah: It’s a little bizarre to hail Michelle’s “more authentic discussion” when you utterly fail to publish an authentic discussion. Could you actually pick up the phone and call a conservative critic, instead of clipping mini-snippets from transcripts? The Post reporter caricatured the conservative critique as “Obama seems unlikely to heed critics’ calls for her to stop talking about race and class.” 

That’s an incomplete thought: conservatives call for her to stop talking about race and class as if she was impoverished and racially underprivileged. The Obamas are the most honored black Americans, lauded on a daily, even hourly basis. They’re wealthy enough to casually send their daughters to the finest liberal private schools, and will really hit the jackpot when the president leaves office. 

But most of the story’s quotes came from supportive liberals complaining about the conservative critique, victimizing the poor First Lady. 

“I think she was genuinely authentic in sharing her own experience,” said [Rep. Terri] Sewell, who greeted Obama before she spoke. “She humanized her position as first lady. What she was saying is the African American experience has always been one of resilience and so was her road to the White House. I didn’t think she played the race card at all.”

Like Obama, Sewell said she has not erased the memory of a satirical New Yorker magazine cover that depicted racial fears about the Obamas with a caricature of Michelle donning a large Afro and holding a machine gun while giving her husband a fist bump. The congresswoman found the cover so outrageous that she kept a copy.

“As an African American woman seeing someone I knew depicted that way, I was incensed,” Sewell said.

Obama told the Alabama crowd that the cover “knocked me back a bit.” So did other campaign trail moments: “You might remember the on-stage celebratory fist bump between me and my husband after a primary win that was referred to as a ‘terrorist fist jab.’ 

Thompson and the Post didn’t consider it all all hyper-sensitive to take offense at a cartoon that was drawn by a liberal magazine to mock conservative hatred of some fanciful radical version of the Obamas. They never point out that Fox host E.D. Hill was canned after “terrorist fist jab.” So just how persecuted is the First Lady in the media? Does every story have to carry her water? 

But Thompson just wanted Michelle to be seen as cruelly victimized. This was the large, bolded, italicized pull quote on the back cover of Style: 

“They were like, ‘I don’t understand. I can’t believe they would do the first lady like this. She didn’t mean any of that.’ They took it like a family member being accosted.” – Brian L. Johnson, Tuskegee University president, on reaction to the pundits. 

Thompson has proven in story after story that she feels for Mrs. Obama as if she were a family member being accosted. No one calls that objective reporting.