US First Lady Michelle Obama has challenged a new book’s account of her role in the White House, saying critics have long attempted to portray her as “some kind of angry black woman”.
The Obamas, by New York Times reporter Jody Kantor, portrays her as a behind-the-scenes force in the White House.
It also describes tensions between her and ex-chief of staff Rahm Emanuel.
In an interview with CBS News, Mrs Obama said she loved being First Lady, but had concerns for her two daughters.
Mrs Obama said Mr Emanuel, who left the White House a year ago and is now mayor of Chicago, was a dear friend who she “never had a cross word” with.
While she pushed back against the notion she sits in political meetings, Mrs Obama did not deny being an important voice to her husband.
“I am his biggest ally,” Mrs Obama said. “I am one of his biggest confidants. But he has dozens of really smart people who surround him. That’s not to say that we don’t have discussions and conversations.
Review of The Obamas
In the opening pages of The Obamas, Kantor sets out the terms of her project: “In public, they smiled and waved, but how were the Obamas really reacting to the White House, and how was it affecting the rest of us?” The questions are at once labored and absurd. The state of a marriage is a poor guide to the course of a presidency.
David Remnick, The New Yorker
“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 [he would run for president] – that I’m some angry black woman,” she said.
“I just try to be me. And my hope is that over time people get to know me,” she told CBS. “And they get to judge me for me.”
She told CBS that she had not read the book, or similar reports.
Neither Obama granted an interview for the book, but Ms Kantor said that she had based her accounts on interviews with both current and former White House staff.
“It’s a game, in so many ways, that doesn’t fit,” Mrs Obama said. “Who can write about what I feel? What third person can tell me what I feel?”
If conflicts do arise, she said, communication happens between the two staffs at the White House – Mr Obama’s in the West Wing and Mrs Obama’s in the East Wing.