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NYT’s Nicholas Kristof chastises Michelle Obama for ‘muzzling herself’ during China visit

Liberal New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof criticized first lady Michelle Obama for “muzzling herself” by refusing to publicly condemn human rights abuses during her trip to China, saying it “sends an unfortunate message.”

Kristof appeared on MSNBC’s “Ronan Farrow Daily” to discuss the first lady’s trip, a ten-day jaunt across China at taxpayer expense. Despite being an official visit, no journalists have been allowed to accompany Mrs. Obama, and her agenda contains no mention of the communist nation’s rampant political repression.

The New York Times columnist believes her trip represents a missed opportunity. “She comes across, I think, as muzzling herself when she doesn’t raise these issues,” he asserted. “She shouldn’t be overtly political, but she shouldn’t refuse to address things like human rights.”

“And I think it’s also unfortunate that she’s not bringing press with her and not taking press questions,” Kristof continued. “The Chinese government has been already cracking down on the press, marginalizing the press…”

Before he could finish, Farrow interjected:”So it would’ve sent an important signal if she’d had press with her?”

“It really would’ve,” Kristof agreed. “And Chinese are always just fascinated by foreign visitors and what they say . . . And so here we had the chance for the first lady to show that it’s possible to have a tough — sometimes antagonistic — relationship with the press without throwing them in jail.”

Kristof would like to have seen more interaction between Mrs. Obama and Chinese audiences, believing such an exchange would help promote greater openness and respect for human rights in China. He claimed the only thing that moves Chinese leadership is to “embarrass them and hold their feet to the fire in public.”

“It doesn’t mean you have to humiliate them, make a big deal out of it,” Kristof explained. “But if you muzzle yourself, then that sends an unfortunate message.”

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