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"The View" ladies dive in to rescue Michelle Obama after she calls Barack "pathetic." UPDATE Obama spokesman Vietor said Michelle said "empathetic."


UPDATE after this was posted, Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor called to say Michelle Obama said "empathetic," not pathetic. I listened to a tape several times and heard the word pathetic. The reaction from the ladies on The View suggests that's what they heard too. "It is aword that can be misheard," Vietor said. Vietor said Obama said "sweet, empathetic" not "sweet and pathetic." One thing for sure. When someone says "Sweet," I listen.END OF UPDATE

ORIGINAL Barbara Walters asks Michelle Obama about how she reacted when husband Barack told her he was running for president. "Did you want him to be president," Walters asked.

No, said Obama. ""Please, don't do this. You know, I did not want Barack to go into politics because I thought politics was a mean business. And you know, I knew this man that I loved, he was sweet and pathetic, I thought. there was no way.......""

At that Walters the other hosts Whoopi Goldberg, Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Sherri Shepherd seemed to instantly realize what Obama did not--that you do not call a potential president of the United State pathetic, even if you love him--and they started kind of shouting at her, to sort of stop her before she does more damage and gives another quote that will be used against her...

Someone suggested that Obama really intended to say "empathetic."

Goldberg spelled out E M P A T H...


Are we in for a pathetic president ? Is this a Omen of whats to come ? I don't know if Obama can handle the political pressures as president.

Funny how no one knows the meaning of anything he or she hears. Try saying obvious, even redundant, things in public (examples might include "Virgins are ignorant," or "Deaf-mutes are dumb") and see what kind of reaction you get. Anyway, I think Mrs. O meant "vulnerable," not "empathetic."

Don't even try that. She was describing Barack and proceeded to list adjectives describing him before she was interrupted. She said the man she loved was sweet, empathetic--which may have sounded like sweet AND pathetic...but then as usual the women on the "The View" started talking over each other and she didn't get to finish her sentence. Please don't do this. It isn't nice

Saw it, heard it, Michelle meant what she said: "sweet and pathetic". She's said similar things previously. The "helpful" Whoopi and others managed to create the impression that Princeton educated Michelle Obama doesn't know the difference between empathetic and pathetic. Not good. She meant what she said.

She said empathetic. This is so juvenile!!! This is so ridiculous!!! She said sweet, empathetic.

To some it sounded like swee AND pathetic. So she repeated the word empathetic, she said "empathetic".

Don't lie on her.

Seriously, your comments are distorted and pointedly one-sided. It was a light moment and an obvious mistake that you have twisted in an awfully negative manner. If this was all you obtained from the show you are clearly not of the stuck "true" journalists/writers are made of.

Michelle said, "empathetic," not pathetic.

I saw it and heard it, too. Not only did Michelle clearly say Barack is "sweet and PATHETIC", and not only did the 5 regular cohosts try to cover her HUGE AND UNMISTAKABLE FAUX PAS, even Matthew Broderick, the next guest, tried vainly to use the word "EMpathetic" to try to cover for Michelle.

Too late, millions saw and heard "PATHETIC", used by Michelle to describe her husband, the next Democratic nominee for Pres.

The only mystery is, why the conspiracy of silence by the cable news networks about this political bomb?

I'm sorry but your manufacturing something here. She said "sweet, empathetic" - thats what I heard when she said it. Of course someone else could hear "sweet and pathetic", but I'm sure those people have their own agenda.

Oh for gods sake... just everyone watch the clip.

This account of what happened is so absurdly distorted it's ridiculous. What happened is that she DID say "sweet, empathetic", and the entire rest of the panel jumped in and REPEATED that because they all realized how it could have been misheard. One of them even spelled it out to make sure everyone had heard it properly. And then we STILL get this post here still telling people she said "pathetic" and trying to convince people the rest of the panel was trying to stop her. THAT is pathetic.

Yikes- she is not a smart woman. Princeton, I hardly knew ye.

I was shocked as well and then after reviewing the tape a few times it was very clear the word "and" was heard and put in place of "em"

If you were writing it it would be sweet, empathetic, etc.

I am a Republican and this is precisely what caused Hillary's downfall and it will cause ours in November. Which is the party's inability of being fair minded. Going after personality and not the issues. Laura was fair minded and this is where the party needs to head in the order of civility.

This election is more about who can bring dignity back to the white house.

The clips are up on YouTube and my place. You can listen for yourself.

These "anonymous" types are going to dive right into "Who you going to believe? Me or your lying ears?"

Can we play semantics any more than we already do? It wouldn't matter what Mrs. Obama said on the show. Someone would find a way to put whatever spin they want on it. Unfortunately, there are many many folks still holding sour grapes in thier mouth over Sen. Clinton's loss and choose to hear what they want to hear.


Have a little empathy for the woman! She obviously said "Sweet, empathetic"... It was a list of positive adjectives to illustrate her point that she thought politics was sort of a mean business and didn't want her husband to get dragged down into it when he had so many gifts to bring to whatever work he did. Apparently blogging is just as mean spirited. This is truly a pathetic post, Lynn.

I listed to this several times - when you listen closely, it's pretty clear she said "sweet, empathetic..." Aside from being able to hear it clearly, the context makes it obvious she was saying empathetic.

I was watching, and she DID say "sweet AND pathetic" and all the View gals quickly tried to correct it and make it ok, with Whoopi even spelling EMPATH, etc. But Michelle knew what she was saying--pathetic--it is obvious she is always the one in control, and tho Obama is very intelligent, he is NOT a leader. If he is elected president, whatever laws or rules a president can make will be Michelle's. I don't think we are ready for this, even tho it is obvious she is being coached on how to look pleasant instead of angry, and to smile and try to have a pleasant, bland look in her eyes, instead of the aggressive, angry look she has usually had in the past. We are in trouble if "SHE" becomes president of the U.S.

Um, what are you trying to prove? This is one of the most useless things I can imagine being brought into something as important as a presidential election.

I listened to the tape on Youtube Lynn. And is is clear as sparkling water that Michelle Obama said empathetic, and not pathetic. Stop trying to start something that's not there.

But your attempts to try to make this sometype of issue are. If you watched the View semi regularly, you would know that Sherri Shepard, is not the brightest or most cognizant bulb in the light shop (Kinda like you in this instance Lynn), and it wouldn't be hard to believe she mis-heard what Michelle Obama said.

She said "sweet AND pathetic," and no amount of cover-up can change a verifiable occurrence, that is, a fact. As an English teacher I tell you that Ms. Obama's personal speaking pattern always involves linking adjectives together with a coordinating conjunction (e.g., and, but, or), as in "sweet and pathetic." She simply does not juxtapose adjectives, as one would in the phrase, "sweet empathetic," without using a connective word between them. Further, her co-panelists heard exactly what she said: hence, their frantic attempts to cover it up. Finally, her tone when she made the remark was that of a woman making a fondly, gently condescending remark about her man's foibles.

What is the significance of this incident which several of the above posters are trying to trivialize? It is not Ms. Obama's foolish comment, but yet another Obama campaign cover-up that alarms. And this time it took a whole team to lie--the panelists and an official campaign spokesman. Am I merely a disgruntled Clinton supporter? Please, do not rationalize. I am a citizen who prizes HONOR, an old-fashioned virtue, perhaps, and one singularly absent from the self-excusing Obama campaign.

Ms. Lynn Sweet, you and anyone who feels like this is a serious issue, are doltish. Please do our country a favor and get your ears checked, buy a dictionary, then do some serious soul searching with the hopes that people learn what is actually important to our country and this election. If anyone put this much effort in to over-analyzing the oratorical errors committed by our current president, he would have been held back and had to repeat his first term.


OK, I just listened to the "pathetic" comment, and she did say pathetic. However, when a woman calls a man she loves pathetic, her meaning is much different than when the word is used in an angry or mean tone. She means he is vulnerable, sweet, and easy, and this is what makes him "pathetic." It means he is a man without the gruff, manly shell designed to show manhood. This may sound stupid coming from a hard core right winger but let's give the woman a break. She is not running for president.

sweet and EMPATHETIC!!!
I heard it. I didn't listen as Lynn did with a view to finding another "gotcha" moment for the beautiful wife of Obama so I heard it as she said it "sweet and EMPATHETIC"

but arrogant reporters like you don't bother with correcting mistakes and misjudgements against people the way the Obamas constantly have to. I mean you're above an apology and correction aren't Ms. Sweet.
you need to change your name, sweet you are

I listened live, I heard it and she said: "sweet and pathetic".
They realized her faux pas before she did and immediately tried
to cover for her.
Thank you Lynn, for being one of the few to report on this.

To all you brainwashed Obamabots who are swearing to Whoopi Goldberg's lie: You can't shine excrement!

She said "sweet and pathetic" I listen to it live.I won't be watching the View as well.

How Pathetic Obama and Michelle are.And just to think.She went out and brought a cheap dress to cover up al the blogs and parer had said that she has a personal trainer-She buys her clothes that are real costly(Money Rezko-Chicago hospital 200,000 a year)Aryers-campaign who have ties to networks of terrorist money lots of it.

We got Obama and michelle number- no Obama's never.go away 1 We will never come around and unity..never.

Unless you have a conservative agenda and are determined to twist everything you hear, it is very clear that she said "sweet, empathetic..." and was then interrupted. The only thing that's pathetic is the ignorance displayed by this blogger and by those who agree with her. Sad, sad, sad. Clearly, for people like you we should all use words of only one syllable so that you can understand them, but I refuse to be dragged down to your depth of ignorance.

Unless you have a conservative agenda and are determined to twist everything you hear, it is very clear that she said "sweet, empathetic..." and was then interrupted. The only thing that's pathetic is the ignorance displayed by this blogger and by those who agree with her. Sad, sad, sad. Clearly, for people like you we should all use words of only one syllable so that you can understand them, but I refuse to be dragged down to your depth of ignorance.

For those of you tracking Michelle Obama in the media, her appearance on The View this past week had critics talking. It wasn't just about her clothes or her softened was a speech convention. Critics are arguing over whether Ms. Obama described her husband as "sweet and pathetic" or "sweet, empathetic." You may mull over the soundbites yourself by searching for the clip on YouTube or other websites. She was speaking in the context of whether she ever thought that her husband would get into politics. I don't want to bias our class, i.e. poison the well of our discussion: please, if you get a chance, tell me what you think she said, i.e. her level of candor. On the Lynn Sweet site, one English teacher wrote in, saying that there was no way that she could have said "sweet, empathetic" because speakers of English generally don't talk the way they write, so the syllable "AND" must have been between the sounds "sweet" and "pathetic," as opposed to a comma "," between "sweet" and "empathetic."

And then again, people were taking a jab at Ms. Obama's Princeton education. Why would Whoopi Goldberg and the rest of the ladies on The View be so quick to correct Ms. Obama's speech pattern? Whoopi Goldberg even took pains to spell out the beginning of the correction: "empathetic, that's E-M-P-A-T-" That was the strangest part of it all. And the Michelle Obama spokesperson later defended The View's version by saying that Michelle Obama indeed had said "sweet, empathetic."

What happened to "empathic"? (The prescriptive spelling in the dictionary.)

I'm looking forward to seeing our class on Thursday!

Michelle Obama is such a hard-bitten person that I bet she does think that her husband is "pathetic" in the sense of being vulnerable and somewhat clueless. Or at least she thought so until she saw that a graceful waving of the race card would clear his way to success. I thought it was odd that she had to coach him on the "fist bump" in public.

I'm not sure what she said on "The View," but her little coaches around her such acted as if she said "pathetic." Why would you jump in to correct something that wasn't a problem?

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on June 18, 2008 11:50 AM.

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