The Michelle Obama "interview" that wasn't

An obscure Web site says it got an angry call from Obama; the story's obviously bogus, but some bloggers on the right took the bait.

By Alex Koppelman
Published October 15, 2008 10:35PM (EDT)

It's notoriously difficult for reporters to get access to Michelle Obama. So when African Press International -- a previously obscure Web site apparently operating out of Norway -- claimed to have recieved an angry phone call from her, even anti-Obama bloggers should have greeted the report with a healthy dose of skepticism. Not surprisingly, even though by every indication the story is completely bogus, they didn't.

It wasn't just the idea that the wife of the Democratic presidential nominee would take time out of her day to call a Web site few people had ever even heard of before that should have raised eyebrows. What she purportedly said during the call, how she said it (apparently she speaks broken English ... who knew?) and how it was written up -- all were blatant red flags suggesting this story isn't worth the bandwith it's taking up. From API's report:

Accusing API of colluding with American internet bloggers in an effort to bring down her husband, Mrs Obama said she decided to call API because of what she termed, API’s help to spread rumours created by American bloggers and other racist media outlets in their efforts to damage a black man's name ...

When API told her that our online news media was only relaying what the American Bloggers and other media outlets had discovered through their investigations, Mrs Obama was angered and she came out loud with the following: "African press International is supposed to support Africans and African-American view," and she went to state that, "it is strange that API has chosen to support the racists against my husband. There is no shame in being adopted by a step father. All dirt has been thrown onto my husband's face and yet he loves this country. My husband and I know that there is no law that will stop him from becoming the president, just because some American white racists are bringing up the issue of my husband's adoption by His step father ... He was born in Hawaii, yes, and that gives him all the right to be an American citizen even though he was adopted by a foreigner; says Michelle Obama on telefon to API ...

On Farakhan and his ministry, Mrs Obama told API that it was unfortunate that Mr Farakhan came out the way he did supporting her husband openly before the elections was over. That was not wholehearted support but one that was calculated to convince the American people that my husband will support the growth of muslim faith if he became the president, adding "even if my husband was able to prove that he is not a Muslim, he will not be believed by those who have come out strongly to destroy his chances of being the next President. Do real people expect someone to deny a religion when 80 percent of his relatives are Muslims?; Mrs Obama asked.

Mrs Obama asked API to write a good story about her husband and that will earn API an invitation to the innoguration ceremony when, as she put it, her husband will be installed as the next President of the United States of America next year.

All of this is, of course, ridiculous. The idea that Obama would say any of this -- especially to an outlet like API -- is absurd. Naturally, the Obama campaign has denied the report.

To their credit, some conservatives, like the National Review's Byron York, warned their readers away from the story. Others weren't quite so skeptical.

At Newsbusters, the blog of the Media Research Center, a conservative press watchdog, P.J. Gladnick called on the mainstream media to investigate, writing, "Your humble correspondent checked on the credentials of API and it has been in existence for a little over two years and has filed numerous stories in that period ... If the MSM wants to verify this story they can contact API directly to investigate its veracity. Perhaps they don't want to check out this story because Michelle Obama comes off with an extreme case of bad temper."

At Atlas Shrugs, in a post she has since taken down, Pamela Geller wrote:

First thug Michelle Obama is giving us a preview of the tactics the Hussein Obamas will use to block the truth, silence critics and destroy free speech. We ain't gonna shut up Michelle. She is clearly worried about what we on the blogs are publishing ... She calls everyone who is not a zombie for Obama a racist when in fact her husband is thisclose [sic] to the White House because we are not a racist nation. SHE IS A RACIST ... She's the psychic twin of the ugly, racist, America hating, Jew hating, Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

(Her emphasis.)

Plenty of other bloggers, including Gateway Pundit, Confederate Yankee and Dan Collins of Protein Wisdom, also jumped on the bandwagon. So did World Net Daily, a right-wing news site that's home to "Obama Nation" author Jerome Corsi.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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