Patrice Lee wrote a blog post earlier this week that first lady Michelle Obama “was caught on tape making remarks that are insulting to the intelligence of blacks, racist at worse, and contrary to her own efforts."
While I’m no fan of the first lady and her nannying initiatives, I disagree that she was trying to insult black voters. In fact, I think she was simply poking fun at herself and going along with a joke set up by the radio host that was interviewing her. If you listen to the radio bit (audio here), the host is clearly the one suggesting fried chicken is a good reward after one does their civic duty of voting (a suggestion I can totally get behind, by the way!). It is the radio host—not the first lady–who suggests fried chicken. He then asks her if it would be okay to indulge.
In my view, the first lady was having a perfectly fine conversation with this radio host who was poking fun of her for being a health nut. She was graciously and good humoredly going along with the joke.
I've been a guest on enough radio shows to know how that game plays out. For instance, many times I've been on the radio and because I often complain about Michelle Obama's Let's Move Campaign, her failed efforts to reform school lunches, and her other health food initiatives, the radio host might joke that it's our right as parents to feed our kids Cheetos and sugary orange soda for breakfast. He’s kidding, of course. Making a totally outlandish and exaggerated point that parents—not government—should be making decisions about their kids’ diets. He’s obviously being funny by suggesting the Cheetos/orange soda example but that’s radio! And as a guest, I go along with the joke–laughing and saying that's precisely what my kids are eating right now.
Of course that isn't true but radio interviews are fun and one often just goes along with the joke and crosses ones fingers that the audience gets it. After all, when discussing legitimate policy issues, one doesn't always have to present themselves as humorless robots wedded to their very serious talking points.
I think it’s important that we make that distinction and allow the first lady to tell or participate in a joke now and then.