Racist Email About First Lady Stings Tenn. Exec

Hospitality official forwards comparison of Michelle Obama and chimp
By M. Morris,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 7, 2010 2:13 PM CST

(Newser) – A Tennessee tourism executive is backtracking after forwarding an email that compared Michelle Obama to a chimpanzee. Tennessee Hospitality Association CEO Walt Baker has apologized to "anyone who is offended by this action" and "the people of Tennessee, and to anybody that has either seen or been affected by this email"—but not specifically to the first lady. The email, which invoked Tarzan's sidekick Cheeta, has already cost Baker's marketing firm a deal with the Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau.

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"The attitudes expressed in the e-mail are both appalling and unacceptable," the head of the NCVB told the Tennesseean, and the mayor called the message "extremely offensive." Complicating the marketing expert's PR fiasco is his initial reaction: "It was done in the spirit of having some fun with some close friends," he told Nashville Scene. The hospitality association meets tomorrow to decide Baker's fate.
(Read more Walt Baker stories.)

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