For Immediate Release:
January 29, 2009
Contact: E. Faye Williams, Esq.
STATEMENT REGARDING RECENT REMARKS BY NPR CORRESPONDENT JUAN WILLIAMS ABOUT FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA
By E. Faye Williams, Esq. and Stephanie E. Myers, Co-Chairs Black Women for Obama for Change
WASHINGTON, D.C. Recently, we watched the Bill O’Reilly Show on Fox TV and were very disappointed to hear an extremely negative message from National Public Radio Correspondent Juan Williams regarding a woman we love and respect—our new First Lady Michelle Obama. In the past, it has been the practice of national journalists to give in-coming Presidents and their families a “honeymoon” period. We are, therefore, troubled that Juan Williams would disregard this practice by maligning Mrs. Obama with pointed and disrespectful remarks saying she was like “Stokely Carmichael in a designer dress.”
First, Stokely Carmichael (aka Kwame Ture’) is a deceased African American male figure of the 1960’s who made many contributions to America during the SNCC sit-ins of the Civil Rights era. It is inappropriate to use his memory as a weapon to try to smear the beautiful image of our new First Lady. Second, we resent the sexist and bizarre attempt to compare the nation’s elegant and graceful First Lady to a man in a dress. Third, Mr. Williams’ suggestion on Fox News that Mrs. Obama could potentially be an “albatross around the President’s neck” is an outrage!
Within just a week Michelle Obama has helped her husband to establish a wholesome positive image of a husband and wife who love each other and who care deeply for their children. For Mr. Williams to make such negative comments about Mrs. Obama within the first 7 days of the new Obama Administration suggests that he is trying to position himself as a critic who plans to engage in highly personal and insulting comments about the First Family. This behavior is below the standards of even the Bill O’Reilly Show and certainly below the standards of a National Public Radio correspondent.
In the midst of one of the worst financial situations in our national history, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are working hard to bring unity to a deeply divided nation and to build bi-partisanship. It is unfortunate that Mr. Williams has chosen to take such a negative approach during this traumatic time. We need journalists of high character who will help the American people understand the complex policy issues that we face — not to engage in petty and personal remarks. We hope that Juan Williams’ display of negative journalism and character assassination will cease immediately and that he will issue a public apology to Mrs. Obama.
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