The Truth-O-Meter Says:
Chain email

Obama's wife wrote a paper in college that said America was a nation founded on "crime and hatred" and that whites in America are "ineradicably racist."

Chain email on Tuesday, May 13th, 2008 in a chain e-mail

Her senior thesis doesn't say that

A chain e-mail about Michelle Obama purports to be excerpts from a senior thesis she wrote while at Princeton University.

It's true that Obama, then Michelle Robinson, attended Princeton and wrote a thesis titled "Princeton-Educated Blacks and the Black Community."

In Obama's thesis, she sought to quantify how the attitudes of black Princeton alumni changed after graduation in regard to race relations and social change. Obama was especially interested in the attitudes of Princeton alumni in regard to improving the lives of lower-income blacks.

To document the change in attitudes, Obama devised an 18-question survey and mailed it to black alumni. Her thesis is a discussion of her methodology and an analysis of the results. It contains a limited amount of personal opinion in the introduction.

But the thesis did not say that the United States was founded on "crime and hatred" and that whites in America are "ineradicably racist." This appears to be a complete fabrication.

The thesis is available on the Internet; the politics news site Politico reported on it in February 2008 and posted a copy it had obtained from Princeton University .

We downloaded a copy, which appears to be complete with no numbered pages missing. We read it, but we did not find the phrases the e-mail describes.

We took the additional step of scanning the document through optical character recognition software so we could search its text electronically. An automated search did not find the words "crime," "hatred," "hate," "ineradicably," or "racist" in the document.

The e-mail goes on to list some accurate quotes from the thesis, but its initial accusations are fiction. The words "crime and hatred" and "ineradicably racist" are inventions of whoever penned the e-mail, not words that appeared in Obama's thesis. Because of that fabrication and the e-mail's intention to defame the Obamas, we rate this claim Pants on Fire!

For more about this chain e-mail, read our story Digging up dirt on Michelle Obama .

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About this statement:

Published: Friday, May 30th, 2008 at 12:00 a.m.

Subjects: Candidate Biography

Sources:

Politico, Michelle Obama thesis was on racial divide , Feb. 22, 2008

Princeton University, The senior thesis

Princeton University, Senior theses and Ph.D. dissertations

Princeton University, Sociology Department

Written by: Angie Drobnic Holan
Researched by: Angie Drobnic Holan
Edited by: Amy Hollyfield

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