Oh no they didn't

Counting the ways in which Fox News calling Barack Obama's wife his "baby mama" is so, so, so wrong.

By Joan Walsh
Published June 13, 2008 1:18AM (EDT)

I don't watch Fox News, but an alert reader saw it, and Alex Koppelman found a clip: The pro-GOP network did, indeed, call Michelle Obama Barack Obama's "baby mama." It wasn't some freelance commentator spouting off; it was a network-produced headline featured more than once below a discussion by Michelle Malkin and host Megyn Kelly: "Outraged Liberals: Stop Picking on Obama's Baby Mama!"

Where do you even start when criticizing Fox's slur? Do you try to explain that "baby mama" is slang for the unmarried mother of a man's child, and not his wife, or even a girlfriend? Are they racist, or just clueless? Isn't there racism even in their cluelessness, if somebody didn't know what "baby mama" means, but used it anyway? Even at Fox, won't somebody have to apologize? Am I wasting my time even thinking about that?

Even on a day when Maureen Dowd found time to "worry" about the coming attack on Michelle Obama, while at the same time passing along an ugly rumor about her (that would never have otherwise found its way into the New York Times), this was shocking.

And yes, those of us who've spoken out about the sexism faced by Hillary Clinton have to be vigilant about the vicious personal attacks we know await Michelle Obama (hell, did I just say "await?") I also can't help hoping that Obama supporters who denied Clinton faced sexism, but who are now outraged by the treatment of Michelle Obama, will have new insight into the dynamics of American media and politics, and new compassion for Clinton. Call me a crazy optimist: I'm expecting Fox to apologize, too!

Joan Walsh

Joan Walsh is the author of "What's the Matter With White People: Finding Our Way in the Next America."

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2008 Elections