The “Kill The Witch” Game

Forget Is America Ready for a Black President? Or Is America Ready for a Female President?

Have you stopped to consider: Is America Ready for a Black First Lady?

There are some who think it will be harder for America to accept a black first lady — the national hostess who serenely presides over the White House Christmas festivities and the Easter egg roll— than a black president.

Who thinks this (not to mention, why)? “Some” whom Maureen Dowd knows and references in her column today about how with Hillary Clinton out of the race, “Mrs. Obama is the new, unwilling contestant in Round Two of the sulfurous national game of Kill the witch.”

A game! Fun! How can the media play, too (apart from giving “some” of its enthusiastic players cover —anonymity— in a column in which you yourself are still busy knocking the game’s first “contestant?”)

An LA Times article today about this very game (“Michelle Obama In The Hot Seat, Too”) quotes Bill Hobbs, a spokesman for the Tennesee GOP, talking about the media reaction to the low budget Web video the state party made “croscutting [Michelle Obama’s “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country”] gaffe with declarations from average folks about how they’ve always been proud of their country.” Per the Times, “[T]he party was stunned and delighted by the national publicity garnered by the cheaply made video, which coincided with a fundraising visit to the state by Michelle Obama.”

“Our goal was to get the local media to play that clip of what she said back in February,” Hobbs said. “The amazing thing was this thing blew up nationally before any local media even covered it.’”

Lesson learned. Need help really blowing a gaffe out of proportion while reinforcing a larger negative narrative? (And did you say that comes with video?) Now Hobbs knows who’s game.

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.