Cherry-lipped Times columnist Maureen Dowd emphatically does not remember Times of London reporter Michelle Henery, but Henery sure remembers Dowd. At a recent Democratic presidential debate, Dowd got all "OMG so good to see you" with Henery even though they'd never met before, Henery wrote yesterday in a column. The explanation, based on Henery's scientific and conclusive email poll of friends: Dowd must have mistaken her for Michelle Obama. "I wondered how white America was going to elect a black man for president if they could not even tell us apart," wrote Henery, an American. The angry Dowd reaction, along with excerpts from Henery's yanked-from-the-Web column and pictures of both Michelles, after the jump.
For Dowd, the stillettos have come off. Dowd told the Post that Henery's account was "total fiction," that she never approached Henery, that she knows what Michelle Obama looks like and Michelle Obama would never be in the press room in the first place. Not that she's defensive or anything.
Dowd also enlisted a Men's Vogue editor to support her story to the Post.
In a sign of the power of Dowd's fury, as of this morning Henery's column had been yanked off the Times of London website.
Still, victory to Henery, who has clearly learned a key lesson from Dowd, one of her "journalistic heroes:" the picture you paint of someone's character will resonate widely, no matter how history judges the facts behind it.
Here's the key scene from her column, set in the press room in the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles, after the final Clinton-Obama debate before Super Tuesday.
But there she was, one of my journalistic heroes, standing right before me. I didn't even spot her until she was in my face, smiling warmly, greeting me like a long-lost friend. My mind went into overdrive trying to figure out why the world-renowned, Pulitzer Prize winning, New York Times uber-columnist Maureen Dowd was speaking to me. The shock of the encounter left me momentarily speechless, but in those few seconds Maureen's sweet smile turned into embarrassed confusion and she scampered off.
I assumed that she must have mistaken me for a prominent news presenter who had come on the scene in the seven years since I had left the United States for Britain. The next day I e-mailed a group of American friends, asking whose doppelganger I was. They all agreed: "She must have thought you were Michelle Obama."
Of course! I mean, despite her having almost 15 years on me and more than three inches in height, not to mention that she should be immediately recognisable having had her face plastered across every newspaper in America for the past three months, we're like twins.
Henery also adds this kicker:
And Maureen, no hard feelings. When you came up to me, I mistook you for Arianna Huffington.
Which begs the question: If Dowd does not know she was mistaken for Huffington, since Henery never asked, then how does Henery know she was talking to Dowd? Is there another redhead wearing way too much red lip gloss out there who could straighten this whole thing out?
Finally, Henery, from an Oct. 2007 interview, then Obama, from a feature on the campaign website:.