When Michelle Obama recently seemed to perceive Jodi Kantor’s new book The Obamas as another portrayal of her as an “angry black woman,” media observers were practically unanimous in defending Kantor and saying that the book did not so characterize the first lady. Yet, I could not help but notice that after David Brooks had joined the media chorus while interviewing Kantor at a Washington event, he then asked her about the times Mrs. Obama had been “fierce,” and Kantor did not dispute the word. There may be a distinction between fierce and angry, but it is certainly subtle.

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Charles Peters is the founding editor of the Washington Monthly.