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Donald Trump Jr.'s joke with Michelle Obama sparks fury

Donald Trump Jr.'s joke with Michelle Obama sparks fury


Donald Trump Jr. received backlash from critics after a social media post about Michelle Obama.

On Instagram, the former president's son posted a photo of former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Levon Kirkland with the words “found this rare Michelle Obama rookie card.” The post also included the caption “Just a little Super Bowl nostalgia. LOL.”

A user responding to the post on Instagram said it was an example of “racism”, while on social media app X, formerly Twitter, independent journalist Aaron Rupar said it showed “Insane levels of racist misogyny on Don Jr.’s Instagram page.” “

In the comments under Trump Jr's February 11 post, one person added that the figure was “so low”, while another user said it was “nasty and disgusting behavior”.

Newsweek reached out to a spokesperson for Trump Jr. by email and Michelle Obama through the Obama Foundation by email for comment outside of business hours.

Michelle Obama on August 28, 2023 in New York. Donald Trump Jr. received backlash following an Instagram post referring to him as a former NFL linebacker. Michelle Obama on August 28, 2023 in New York. Donald Trump Jr. received backlash following an Instagram post referring to him as a former NFL linebacker. Jackson Lee/GC Images

“Deer [sic] fact checkers, I was told this was a joke,” Trump Jr. also said in the caption. “So please treat it accordingly, even though I personally don't not 100% sure.”

In response to the post, a number of social media users referenced an unfounded conspiracy theory that the former first lady is actually a transgender man or woman. It's unclear when the theory began circulating online, but it appears in articles published during the Obama presidency from 2009 to 2017.

The late comedian Joan Rivers referenced the conspiracy during an impromptu street interview that circulated on social media in 2014.

Rivers was asked if the United States would ever have a gay or transgender president, to which Rivers responded, “We already have that with Obama. You know Michelle is trans.”

The reporter then asked Rivers to explain her comment and she responded, “A transgender woman. We all know that.”

The theory about Michelle Obama, according to a February 2022 tweet from conspiracy theorist debunker Mike Rothschild, is part of the “mythology around QAnon.”

QAnon is an online movement originating from 4chan that promotes fabricated allegations about politicians, celebrities, and other well-known figures. Much of QAnon's message is that Donald Trump is waging a secret, ongoing fight against high-profile, devil-worshipping pedophiles. The conspiracies led accounts supporting Q to take anti-trans stances.

Rothschild added in his 2022 article: “The whole 'Michelle Obama is actually a guy' trope is huge in Q circles. It's just sick.” »

Updated 02/12/24, 7:44 a.m. ET: This article has been updated with additional background information.

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