There are enough qualifications in this Maui News story on Michelle Obama’s reported presence on island to swallow, well, Air Force One, but it would seem that Upcountry residents are seeing massive numbers of Maui Police cars because the First Lady is hanging with Oprah Winfrey in Kula.
See, I just used the word “seem.” Never can be too careful when dealing with unconfirmed information, I suppose. But The Maui News–and other news sources like the Associated Press–have certainly been trying to get something like confirmation. Here’s how The Maui News explained their lack of concrete details on what exactly Michelle Obama and The Big O are doing on Maui:
“President Barack Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha returned to the White House on Sunday after a two-week vacation on Oahu. The Associated Press reported Sunday that the first lady was staying in the islands to spend time with friends ahead of her upcoming 50th birthday. However, there has been no official confirmation of her whereabouts by the Maui Police Department, Kahului Airport officials or the White House.”
Instead, the story relies on the observations of local residents–like former Maui Police Officer Lenie Lawrence, who said “that he saw tinted, black SUVs on Saturday afternoon after they were transported via a giant military plane to Kahului Airport.”
According to The Maui News, Lawrence knows this because “He was at Savers with his wife [that would be Maui News reporter Lila Fujimoto, who is curiously not mentioned in the story] when he saw the plane fly overheard and then drove to the airport to get a better look at the plane.”
In any case, this is all probably especially delicious to right-wingers who delight in spreading (and in publishing poorly-sourced books containing) rather nasty gossip about the First Family’s relations with Oprah. Most notoriously, in the spring of 2012, a right-wing journalist named Edward Klein convinced right-wing Regnery Publishing to print the subtly-titled The Amateur: Barack Obama in the White House. Among the mountains of dirt heaved at the Obamas were a few especially choice nuggets dealing with what Klein believes is a monumental chick fight between Michelle Obama and Oprah over the President’s mind:
“Michelle is very jealous, I would say unusually so. Most people after years of marriage have trust and don’t follow their husbands around and check on them. Michelle doesn’t seem to trust Barack at all. She insists on knowing his every movement and drops in on him at all kinds of odd times. It’s been the buzz of the White House. Oprah has gossiped about it and giggled about how obsessive Michelle is.”
I found that quote, which Klein apparently attributes to “someone who was very close to Oprah,” in this great Jezebel.com blog post on the book. According to that blog, Klein wrote in his book that when Oprah and Gayle King came to the White House to interview President Obama, “Michelle mentioned that the White House cooks made the best pie in the world. But she didn’t offer Oprah or Gayle any…”
Isn’t that just evil? Anyway, I’m quoting a blogger quoting Klein on this because Klein’s previous books have spurred serious outrage–not because of his themes (Democrats are ripe for bashing every bit as Republicans) but because of his apparently crappy reporting. Politico even went so far as to call him “error prone” and say his earlier book on Hilary Clinton (The Truth About Hillary Clinton) included “serious factual errors, truncated and distorted quotes and overall themes [that] don’t gibe with any other serious accounts of Clinton’s life.”
But I digress. First Lady Michelle Obama is hanging with the Queen of Daytime Talk in Kula. By all means, let the gossip begin.
Photo of Oprah Winfrey with Michelle and Barack Obama: vargas2040/Wikimedia Commons
About Anthony Pignataro
Anthony Pignataro has been a journalist since 1996. He started work as MauiTime's Editor in 2003, took a couple years off starting in 2008, then returned to the staff in 2011. He's the author of "Stealing Cars With The Pros," a 2013 collection of his journalism and the Maui novels "Small Island" (2011) and "The Dead Season" (2012)–all of which were published by Event Horizon Press. In 2014, his one-act play "War Stories" won second place in the Maui Fringe Festival.