July 17th, 2008
01:00 PM ET
13 years ago

Obama blames 'conservative press' for attacks on Michelle

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/17/art.barack.michelle.obama.jpg
caption="Barack Obama said conservative media is responsible for negative attacks on his wife."]
(CNN)—Barack Obama blamed the 'conservative press' Wednesday for negative attacks on his wife Michelle.

“What happened was that the conservative press—Fox News and the National Review and columnists of every ilk—went fairly deliberately at her in a pretty systematic way,” Obama told Glamour Magazine.

In the latest NYT/CBS Poll, released this week, Michelle Obama is viewed in a favorable light by 29 percent of those questioned and unfavorably by 16 percent. Cindy McCain, wife of presumptive Republican nominee John McCain is viewed favorably by 18 percent and unfavorably by 8 percent.

Watch: What kind of first lady would Michelle Obama be?

Both presumptive nominees have urged media outlets to avoid bringing their wives into the battle for the White House

“[Our wives] should be treated with respect and if there's any disrespectful conduct on the part of anyone, those people should be rejected,” McCain told CNN last month.

Obama emphasized the plea in the interview released Wednesday, saying his wife and Cindy McCain are not fair game because “essentially, spouses are civilians. If you start being subjected to rants..day in day out, that’ll drive up your negatives.”

In the interview, for the October issue, Obama said his wife actually epitomizes the quintessential American woman and called his two children a testament to who she is.

“She’s the most honest person I know, she’s smart, she’s funny,” The Illinois senator said explaining the attacks have come from people who have fundamental policy differences with him and encouraged them to point debate toward him, not his wife.

Pressed on whether he thought the McCain campaign is responsible for the attacks Obama explained it’s not necessarily the campaign ‘itself,’ but more the ‘apparatus’ of the conservative media as a whole including the columnists and blogs.

“I don’t have a thick skin when it comes to criticism of my wife,” Obama admitted. “The problem is that rarely do these folks have the guts to say it to your face.”

soundoff (391 Responses)
  1. Bill from ALabama

    Wives are a big part of a candidate,and not only influence the candidate,but are in charge of handling White House special events...therefore they are fair game,because the images the First Lady gives thru the media have a lot of impact on the way the world views an administration,as well as the United States. Sounds like Obama is ,also,biting the hand that feeds him,when he criticizes the media. Obama owes much of where he is in this campaign ,to the media. The media has slanted everything Obama's way from the get-go.

    July 17, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  2. Seattle Sue

    This is the same media that gave Hillary such a bad rap, plus CNN and MSNBC.

    July 17, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  3. G. Penley

    Obama blames the "Conservative press" for attacks on his wife? There's a new one. If his wife could keep her big mouth shut, she wouldn't get any attacks. She asked for it, and if he's too stupid to inderstand that, then what's he doing running for President?

    July 17, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  4. Moses, Ca.

    Kathy in Ohio,

    McCain said that he never loved this Country until he was captured in Viet-Nam, So what should the American people feel about him.

    July 17, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  5. Nicole in NE

    Scared of a an out-spoken strong women? It's sad, really sad.

    They said the same about Hillary too.

    July 17, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  6. Molly

    Obama "Get over it"!!! – Too bad you do not like any negative comments – about anything and always blame someone else.
    Both you and Ms. Michelle are FAKE – she had a "re-make" and you change you message daily to suit your political needs. You are a FRAUD and so is your wife – this is one big staged show.

    July 17, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  7. VON BISMARK, Vienna

    Desperate scared bucks

    July 17, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  8. Xavier

    McCain, the man who divorces his wife on her death bed to marry the rich beer queen and prescription drug junkie. These are the people who you want to compare against Obama and his wife? Obama's wife wins hand down.

    July 17, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  9. Joan

    Why was my comment not posted? It is a fair, true statement and not rude or slanderous like some of the others listed above.

    July 17, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  10. Get that Fox a Vixen ...

    I think most reasonable, informed people have to admit that FOX News is a Republican leaning network.

    On June 11, 2008, it was FOX that referred to Michelle Obama as, and I quote, “Obama’s Babies Mama”.

    Any informed person knows that is an unflattering, largely urban-originated reference that was meant to be a coded reminder that she’s really black.

    It was also intended to disrespect her as a wife and mother for “baby mamas” typically are not the wife of the father of the child. This was intended to plant a seed in the minds of conservative, largely white, “family-values-oriented” voters that, “She’s not like you”. She is beneath you.

    Most thinking independents white voters, most women (republican-to-democrat), most non-caucasian (asian-to-latino-to-black) voters are, and will continue to be, offended and turned off by this. They will also not allow FOX to apologize or apply … “if anyone was offended” excuse.

    Finally, all Americans will link FOX to the GOP. While the two are not exactly one in the same, we are all intelligent enough to know that the GOP has given its tacit approval to FOX, otherwise, we’d not be seeing this over and over again.

    July 17, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  11. Deb, Allentown PA

    He's absolutely right! Frankly, I'm surprised the conservative media went with the Michelle attacks given the skeleton's in Cindy's closet.

    July 17, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  12. Ken Pittsburgh

    Why is it that Michelle Obama who also spent a good part of her life helping others treated this way is because the contest is now been going on for 16 months 24/7 The talking heads will us what people are sayin according to their own media rules.

    July 17, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  13. IAMWMD

    We all know the real reason why the Obama's get dogged in the press and it's because they are not lilly white and racism is the core of the Republican party which owns the media.

    Look at Brent the Fox News Guys neck

    July 17, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  14. Jerry in Boston

    I agree that there has been nauseating and unfair criticism of Michelle Obama, but quite frankly, if you don't want your wife to be subject to public scrutiny, don't put her in the public spotlight.

    You can't have it both ways. If you're going to use your photogenic family to create a positive image and to stump for you, then don't whine when they suffer the inevitable consequences of fame.

    July 17, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  15. cyntia

    Hello, this is still is free country, remember?
    And we have a right to tell our opinion.
    Mss Obama is a part of Obama's campaign and whatever whe tells can be discusses and criticized.
    My personal opinion is she does not fit the role of fhe first lady because she has too much hatred inside of her.
    Too arrogant! Take her statement that America should her husband now because they will not participate in election other time!
    She believes that her husband is a messiah and americans should worship him. How arrogant!
    And when they now trying to reinvent her now does not help.
    Look ih her eyes!

    July 17, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  16. Austin Chuks, Lagos, Nigeria

    Depicting that graceful woman as a militant, shows how abysmal family values have dropped in America. Politics has become so dirty that even more naive Americans are drawn into supporting evil.

    Those who don't understand, wait until some people do/say nasty things to/abt ur wives for no just cause. I guess some would not hesitate to commit murder.

    Love your wife as yourself.

    What a highly responsible president Obama WILL make in USA!

    July 17, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  17. Stephanie

    Wait – Obama is giving interviews to Glamour magazine?

    July 17, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  18. Matthew, Philadelphia, PA

    Glamour Magazine??? Gimme a break Obama!

    Also, wives are fair game if they go out on the trail campaigning and attacking their spouse's opponents. Michelle made a choice to put herself out there and criticism is therefore legitimate.

    July 17, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  19. Kevin

    If your wife is campaigning for you and giving public speeches then sorry they are fair game. So Stop blaming the media for harking on what your wife said. If you do not want them criticized, or anyone in your campaign for that matter, tell them to keep their mouths shut.

    July 17, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  20. Joe - Wilmington, DE

    Good luck with that. These media outlets, conservative or liberal, are like sharks swimming in bloody water.

    July 17, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  21. roland

    The ignorant American voters will not see thru their nose and the handwriting on the wall,same old system that killed John F.Kennedy,Martin Luther King Jnr.

    Same old jab that brought Geourge W,Bush to power twice,that took us to Iraq and make over sixty thousand Men and Women wounded and over four thousand seven hundred dead,

    Same old system that lead to inflation,lead to foreclosure,banckrupcy,unemployment.

    Politics of fear , hate and devide.

    Think wisely,vote wisely,this is an opportunity to liberate our nation once again. No country recovers from sxteen year of same government ,same people ,same agender.

    Government is run by costitution not by idealogy and selfishness.

    Barack Obama is the anwser . America wake up ,be warned.

    May God be with America..May God be with Barack Obama.

    Roland from Spain.

    July 17, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  22. Jeff

    Obama needs to suck it up. If he didn’t expect the right to flail into him and his wife when he set his sights on becoming the first black president, he's not as smart as he thinks he is. He now got what he wanted and both him and that wife of his need to deal with the downside. This election cycle will be a disaster for America no matter who wins. The sad part is that our president should be one of the best and brightest. Neither Obama nor John McCain fit into that category.

    July 17, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  23. Honest Black Man

    Funny. I don't hear this kind of tripe being said about Cindy McCain. Maybe it's just the "chickens coming home to roost?" (words of Rev. Wright)

    Michelle has been a near-militant black since her youth. Does Obama expect America to ignore the anit-white sentiments in BOTH of their pasts?

    July 17, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  24. Travis In Colorado

    Does this guy ever stop crying? This guy needs to realize that MUCH meaner things have been said about Bush, Clinton, Hillary, Reagan, Edwards, Kerry, McCain, Laura Bush, so on and so forth. It comes with the job Barack, so get used to it or just go away. Stop your crying, you look like a cry baby most of the time. No one is going to respect you, I certainly don't. Oh, and things are going to get meaner and nastier on both sides as we get closer to November and we see McCain win the presidency! Then you can cry all you want! Toughen up, you're pathetic!

    McCain 08!

    July 17, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  25. Steve (Independent)

    Frankly, I think the media should stick to objective reporting of news and events. Unfortunately, too many news reporters sound more like gossips and scandal sheet columnists these days...

    July 17, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
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