White House, French officials dispute report that first lady said life is 'hell'

The White House is denying that first lady Michelle Obama ever described her White House life as "hell."
By Anne E. Kornblut
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 16, 2010; 5:04 PM

White House officials are pushing back on a report that first lady Michelle Obama said her life is "hell," flatly contradicting a new book purportedly written in collaboration with Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, the wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

According to an account in the British press, the book says Michelle Obama complained about her life in the White House during a private dinner with the French first couple. The book quotes her as saying, in response to a question about being first lady: "Don't ask! It's hell. I can't stand it!"

Not so, according to the White House.

"The first lady never said that," spokeswoman Katie McCormick Lelyveld said.

In a firmer-than-usual bit of pushback, the White House also referred reporters to the French Embassy for clarification. A spokesman said Bruni-Sarkozy had distanced herself from the book, titled "Carla and the Ambitious," and that the words attributed to Michelle Obama were never uttered.

In case anyone missed it, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs tweeted the French statement to his more than 95,000 followers.

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