Michelle Obama vs. the American Flag

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Did Michelle Obama Say "All This for a Damn Flag" During Flag Folding Ceremony?

All This for a Damn Flag
Netlore Archive: Viral video purports to show first lady Michelle Obama whispering "All this for a damn flag?" in President Obama's ear during a flag folding ceremony on the anniversary of 9/11. Screenshot of video clip posted on YouTube

Description: Viral video / Rumor
Circulating since: Oct. 2011
Status: Unlikely (see details below)

Example #1:
Email contributed by BCT, Oct. 21, 2011:

Okay. . . I’ve HAD it. . . REALLY had it with Michelle Obama.

Her pronouncement years ago of being proud for the first time in her adult life of her country PALES in comparison to what she said during a 9-11 commemoration over the weekend.

This anti American socialist blathering FOOL has gone WAY too far.

There she sat on Barack’s right side as bagpipers played and an honor guard folded an American Flag. You know how it’s done… with reverence and respect, folded precisely and crisply. . . honored. It was during that moment that our nations "First Lady" leaned to her husband’s ears and asked the question that should set your TEETH on fire!

All of this for a damned flag?

When Barack nodded, she sat back and gave a look of disgust. There is no audio but you can clearly read her lips (An expert lipreader verified this). HE doesn’t show the least bit of surprise at her question!!


Example #2:
Email contributed by Wesley S., June 14, 2012:

FW: Obama's wife as seen by deaf people

Obama and his wife were attending The 9/11 Memorial Ceremony and watched as the Color Guard folded the flag into a triangular shape, according to custom.

A video camera caught the two from the sidelines. Obama's wife leaned over and said to him, "All this for a damn flag?" Obama turned to her, smiled smugly and nodded his head in agreement.

How do we know what was said? The video was presented for translation to a lip reading instructor at The River School, a Washington D.C. school for the deaf. The video is shown at normal speed, 3/4 speed, and 1/2 speed with no banners obstructing her lips. Click here to view for yourself:


One term. For all those who served in the military, and the ones who died or were wounded for a "damn flag" as Michelle call it, just so she could be free to get all the benefits she got, her ivy league education and her husband elected as President of the best country on earth... Shame on her and Obama... for "a damn flag."

What first lady would make remarks like this? Probably the one who just recently was for the first time proud to be an American? This is the result of an entitlement society and affimative action. The results are tearing away the backbone of this great nation and replacing it with ignorant trash.

Analysis: Contrary to what's claimed above, no instructors employed by the River School in Washington, D.C. helped in the interpretation of Michelle Obama's lip movements in the video in question.

"Please be advised," read a statement posted on the school's website in 2011, "that the River School was not involved in any translation services for a recent video clip currently circulating on the Internet." The denial was reaffirmed by River School director Nancy Mellon in a statement quoted by Politifact.com. "It's definitely not us," Mellon said. "We would never try to do anything like this."

In point of fact, there's no good reason to suppose that any trained or experienced lip readers played a part in the interpretation of Michelle Obama's lip movements advanced in these viral messages. The closest thing to expert testimony we do have comes from the hearing-impaired viewers who took part in a September 2011 discussion about the video on AllDeaf.com. The impression of all concerned was that the First Lady's private comments to President Obama during the flag ceremony were appreciative, not derogatory.

The majority view was that she said, "It's amazing how they fold that flag." Others thought she may have said the words, "I wonder if they flew that flag."

Bearing in mind that lip reading isn't an exact science, either interpretation is plausible and comports with a statement released around the same time by Kristina Schake, Michelle Obama's communications director (via Media Matters):

The First Lady was commenting to the President on how moving and powerful it always is to watch all that America's firefighters and police officers do to honor the flag. It was an emotional moment on a powerful day and she was awed by the ceremony and all that the flag symbolizes.

Related stories:
The Return of Barack Obama's 'Crotch Salute'
Barack and Michelle Obama's Left-Handed Flag Salute
Obama (Supposedly) Explains Why He (Supposedly) Refuses to Salute the Flag

Sources and further reading:

What Is Michelle Obama Saying During the 9/11 Flag Ceremony?
American Thinker, 13 September 2011

Right-Wing Lip Readers Take Michelle Obama Derangement Syndrome to a Whole New Level
Media Matters, 14 September 2011

Chain Email Says River School Lip-Reading Instructor Confirms Michelle Obama Said 'All This for a Damn Flag'
Politifact.com, 26 June 2012

Anyone Able to Make This Out?
Deaf Chat, AllDeaf.com, 15 September 2011

Michelle's Flag Flap
TruthOrFiction.com, 15 November 2011

Last updated 09/25/12