Conservatives and liberals are split over Michelle Obama's Grammy victory

The former First Lady won a Grammy for an audiobook recording of her bestselling 2018 memoir, "Becoming"

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published January 27, 2020 3:30PM (EST)

Alicia Keys, Michelle Obama and Jennifer Lopez speak onstage during the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on February 10, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Lester Cohen/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)
Alicia Keys, Michelle Obama and Jennifer Lopez speak onstage during the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on February 10, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Lester Cohen/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

Former First Lady Michelle Obama won a Grammy Award on Sunday for Best Spoken Word Album for the audio recording of her 2018 memoir, "Becoming."

Obama beat out John Waters' "Mister Know It All," Eric Alexandrakis' "I. V. Catatonia," Michael Diamond and Adam Horovitz's "Beastie Boys Book," and Sekou Andrews & The String Theory's eponymous book to win the golden gramophone.

Michelle Obama's autobiographical book traces her career as a lawyer, mayoral assistant, and eventually First Lady to argue about the importance of public service and the ability of people from all backgrounds to achieve success.

The only other first lady to win a Grammy Award in history is Hillary Clinton, who won in 1997 for the audio version of her 1996 book, "It Takes A Village." Two presidents have won Grammys: Jimmy Carter won three times, while Bill Clinton won twice and was nominated on two other occasions. Two more received a nomination without winning: John Kennedy and Richard Nixon.

Responses to Obama's victory tended to break along partisan lines. Former Vice President Joe Biden, who served in the administration and is running for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020, tweeted: "Congrats @MichelleObama on winning a Grammy for telling your story with strength — and with grace. Jill and I are so thrilled for you. Just beat Barack to an EGOT, will ya?"

MSNBC correspondent Joy Reid tweeted, "I think we all need some happy news tonight. Congratulations @MichelleObama!"

Comedian Dana Goldberg tweeted, "Michelle Obama just won a Grammy for her spoken word album 'Becoming!' Melania's spoken word album 'Becamed' drops this summer."

Fox News contributor Sara A. Carter was less positive, noting that Democratic politicians have won more Grammys than Republicans. She tweeted:

"#GRAMMYAwards2020 for Best Spoken Word: (Past Winners - Politicians)


- Jimmy Carter (3x)

- Bill Clinton (1x)

- Barack Obama (2x)

- Al Franken (1x)

- Hillary Clinton (1x)

- Michelle Obama (1x)


- Everett Dirksen (1x)"

Jim Hoft of the far right site The Gateway Pundit posted an article with the headline "Of Course She Did: Michelle Obama Joins Crooked Hillary, Al Gore and Barack Obama and Wins Grammy for Talking." 

The piece sarcastically noted, "Michelle Obama joined such music legends as Crooked Hillary, Al Gore and her husband Barack Obama and won a Grammy Award on Sunday for reading her book. She really read it well. It was very moving."

Matt Margolis of PJ Media responded by speculating that Michelle Obama had only won because of her last name and recalling how he had predicted earlier this month that she would win the Grammy. 

"Well, I wish someone had taken me up on that bet because I'd be a thousand dollars richer tonight," Margolis wrote. "I don't watch the Grammys or follow any coverage of them, but it was reported Sunday afternoon that she had won. I'm sure it will go right next to her husband's Grammys and Nobel Peace Prize on the mantel of their fireplace. Hillary Clinton won a Grammy too. Just sayin'.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a professional writer whose work has appeared in multiple national media outlets since 2012 and exclusively at Salon since 2016. His diverse interests are reflected in his interview, including: President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981), Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak (1999-2001), animal scientist and autism activist Temple Grandin, inventor Ernő Rubik, comedian Bill Burr ("F Is for Family"), novelist James Patterson ("The President's Daughter"), epidemiologist Monica Gandhi, theoretical cosmologist Janna Levin, voice actor Rob Paulsen ("Animaniacs"), mRNA vaccine pioneer Katalin Karikó, philosopher of science Vinciane Despret, actor George Takei ("Star Trek"), climatologist Michael E. Mann, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (2013-present), dog cognition researcher Alexandra Horowitz, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson (2012, 2016), comedian and writer Larry Charles ("Seinfeld"), Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman (2000), Ambassador Michael McFaul (2012-2014), economist Richard Wolff, director Kevin Greutert ("Saw VI"), model Liskula Cohen, actor Rodger Bumpass ("SpongeBob Squarepants"), Senator John Hickenlooper (2021-present), Senator Martin Heinrich (2013-present), Egyptologist Richard Parkinson, Rep. Eric Swalwell (2013-present), media entrepreneur Dan Abrams, actor R. J. Mitte ("Breaking Bad"), theoretical physicist Avi Loeb, biologist and genomics entrepreneur William Haseltine, comedian David Cross ("Scary Movie 2"), linguistics consultant Paul Frommer ("Avatar"), Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (2007-2015), computer engineer and Internet co-inventor Leonard Kleinrock and right-wing insurrectionist Roger Stone.

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