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Sunday, March 7, 2010


CEO sends e-mail comparing Michelle Obama to...

Tennessee CEO Walt Baker sorry for 'humor' e-mail gag comparing Michelle Obama to Tarzan's chimp

Michael Sheridan


Sunday, March 7th 2010, 1:47 PM


Walt Baker
Walt Baker


An emailed "joke" from an Tennesee CEO comparing the First Lady to a famous movie chimp ended up being no laughing matter.

The CEO of the Tennessee Hospitality Association issued an apology this weekend for an offensive e-mail he recently sent to several people, including members of the press and a public official, comparing Michelle Obama to Cheetah from the Tarzan movies.

"I deeply apologize to anyone who is offended by this action," Walt Baker said in a statement.

"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."

However, Baker is apparently confused on why someone would find it offensive, describing the joke as "political humor."

"I did not think or consider its implications, other than that it was political humor," he wrote. "I am saddened that anyone misinterpreted the sentiments behind the e-mail."

Baker's e-mail, which someone had sent him and he forwarded, contained a photo of Michelle Obama along side a photo of Tarzan's chimpanzee sidekick.

"I have never considered myself bigoted, or racially insensitive, or a racist," Baker told News Channel 5.

The president of Nashville's Convention & Visitors Bureau, Butch Spyridon, was one of the people to receive the e-mail, and said he was "embarrassed" by the gag.

"The content is deeply hurtful to all in our city and beyond," he wrote in a statement. "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."

Spyridon said Baker's marketing firm, Mercatus Communications, has since lost its contract to help promote the city's new convention center.

"The e-mail was extremely offensive," Nashville's Mayor Karl Dean said in a statement. "It does not reflect who we are as a city and our values."

According to WSMV Channel 4 News in Nashville, this isn't the first time an e-mail with racist content has caused a controversy in the southern city.

Back in October, several hundred state workers received an e-mail proclaiming "white pride," and shortly after that, 20 Senate staffers were sent an e-mail from a legislative aide with President Obama seen on a black background as just a pair of eyes.

"I regret having done it," Baker said on News Channel 5. "I wished I had not pushed that button."



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When are people like this going to get it? Making fun of anyone, red, white, black, or brown is offensive and there is nothing funny about that. How would he feel if someone did this to one of his loved ones? I don't think it would be funny then.
That CEO is as stupid as it gets.
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