Head Of Tennessee Hospitality Assn. Sends Email Comparing Michelle Obama To A Chimp
Walt Baker, CEO of the Tennessee Hospitality Association, doesn’t seem so hospitable to Michelle Obama. Baker sent an email comparing Michelle Obama to Tarzan’s cheeta.
Baker’s Southern hospitality apparently only extends to white folks. He forwarded the offensive email on Thursday afternoon to a dozen public figures, referred to by Baker, as “a select group of friends,” including mayoral legislative aide Toby Compton and Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau president Butch Spyridon.
The email contained the following text, with an image of Michelle Obama next to a photo of a chimpanzee:
“I was at the store yesterday, and I ran into Tarzan! I asked him how it was going and if he was into anymore movies.?? He told me that he could no longer make any more movies as he had severe arthritis in both shoulders and could no longer swing from vine to tree. ??I asked how Jane was doing, he told me she was in bad shape, in a nursing home, has Alzheimer’s and no longer recognizes anyone, how sad. I asked about Boy, and he told me that Boy had gone to the big city, got hooked up with bad women, drugs, alcohol, and the only time he heard from him was if he was in trouble or needed something.? I asked about Cheeta, he beamed and said she was doing good, had married a Lawyer and now lived in the White House!!!”
He at first passed it off as “spontaneously” forwarding it to a “small group of people” because it was sent to him as “political humor,” and that it was being misinterpreted.
“Thursday night I spontaneously forwarded – to a small group of people – an email that had been sent to me as political humor,” Baker wrote. “As I forwarded it, I did not think or consider its implications, other than that it was political humor. I am saddened that anyone misinterpreted the sentiments behind the email. I deeply apologize to anyone who is offended by this action. I hope that those who know me realize that the message was not intended to be malicious or hurtful in any way and can find it in their hearts to forgive me.”
Then the Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau dropped its contract with Baker’s group.
“On behalf of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau, I want to publically apologize for the offensive email sent yesterday by Tennessee Hospitality Association CEO Walt Baker,” CVB President Butch Spyridon said in a statement this afternoon. “As a recipient of the email, I am embarrassed for both my organization and myself. The content is deeply hurtful to all in our city and beyond. The attitudes expressed in the email are both appalling and unacceptable, and are not shared or condoned in anyway by the NCVB or by me personally.
Now, Baker seems more contrite.
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