First Lady Michelle Obama denied reports of tension between her and White House aides, saying people have tried to portray her as “some kind of angry black woman.”
In an interview with CBS News, the first lady said she has not read New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor’s new book “The Obamas,” which depicts her as a forceful behind-the-scenes power player in her husband’s administration who often clashes with the president’s top advisers.
“I never read these books,” Obama told CBS’ Gayle King. “I’ve just gotten in the habit of not reading other people’s impressions of people.”
The first lady denied accusations that she is frustrated and unhappy in the White House, saying “I love this job” and that it has “been a privilege” from day one.
“I guess it’s more interesting to imagine this conflicted situation here and a strong woman. But that’s been an image that people have tried to paint of me since the day Barack announced. That I’m some angry black woman.”
Asked how she deals with that image, Mrs. Obama said “I just try to be me.”
“My hope is that over time people get to know me. And they get to judge me for me,” she said. “That’s why I don’t read these books. Because, you know, it’s a game in so many ways… Who can write about how I feel? Who? What third person can tell me how I feel? Or anybody for that matter.”
The first lady pushed back specifically against reports of friction with the president’s former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and former Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.
“Rahm and I have never had a cross word. He’s a funny guy,” she said. “I don’t have conversations with my husband’s staff. I don’t go to the meetings. Our staffs work together really well. If there’s communication that needs to happen, it happens between staffs… I can count the number of times I go over to the West Wing, period.”
Mrs. Obama also said she was unaware of the 2010 incident, detailed in the book, when Gibbs lost his temper and reportedly shouted profanities about the first lady. “Robert Gibbs is a trusted adviser. He’s been a good friend and remains so. I’m sure that we could go day-to-day and find things people wish they didn’t say to each other or said. People stumble. People make mistakes.”