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The Untrue Fact About Michelle Obama’s Mom Everyone Believes

Throughout Barack Obama’s presidential term, Michelle Obama’s mother, Marian Robinson, lived alongside the family in the White House to help the couple raise their family. Robinson was the glue holding the family together, looking after young Malia and Sasha Obama (who were just 10 and 7 at the time of the 2008 elections).

In January 2017, when Barack left office and the Obamas moved out of Washington, D.C., reports emerged that Robinson would receive a lifetime pension from the government. It turns out that these allegations were completely false, but somehow, the rumor is still swirling around and regarded as truth! Barack and Michelle have not addressed this gossip with an official response, and this isn’t exactly a shock given that it’s only one of the many rumors they’ve dealt with, even before their family moved into the White House. 

The misinformation about the Obamas ranged from conspiracy theories about Barack’s citizenship and birthplace to lies about his religion, showcasing the dark side of American politics even before things escalated to where they are today. But these lies weren’t just spread about ex-POTUS Barack Obama — the conspiracies surrounded his innocent family members as well. The public has disparaged Michelle by calling her gender into question, and many people still believe that she was born a biological man.

On X, previously known as Twitter, conservative commentator Terrence K. Williams had the nerve to raise the question publicly, and a staggering 50% of respondents claimed to believe that Michelle was a man. Malia and Sasha were also targeted with untrue reports that they weren’t his biological daughters. His entire circle was susceptible to fake news, including his mother-in-law.

Much of this hearsay was so ridiculous that it was difficult to prove, and the Obamas did not dignify the rumors by responding. However, the information about Robinson is easy to verify in comparison, making it surprising that the false fact has continued to be talked about for so long.

Marian Robinson has never been a federal worker

In October 2016, the Boston Tribune made a wildly inaccurate claim, just as Barack Obama was preparing to leave office, stating that Robinson would receive $160,000 annually. From the United States government, the satirical website published the news when online fake news was experiencing a surge in popularity. A range of other outlets (ones that didn’t bother fact-checking) picked up these false reports, leading the claims to become widespread on social media.

The internet lost it. One user in 2018 tweeted, “Here’s a fun fact….. Michelle Obama’s mother, who took care of the granddaughters for all 8 years was GETTING PAID! And NOW she is getting a pension of $13,000 a month for the rest of her life. (chew on that, how much is your social security?). While some people believed that Robinson was receiving a ridiculous fee for “babysitting,” others saw this as a significant accomplishment on Michelle’s part.

According to the Boston Tribune report from which this “fact” originated, Robinson’s supposed pension was due to the Civil Service Retirement Act, which only applies to federal workers who began working before 1987. Michelle’s mother was never a government employee nor remotely related to the White House in the 1980s. She also wasn’t officially employed as Sasha and Malia’s babysitter and never received any compensation for taking care of the girls.

She didn’t want to move to Washington, D.C. initially

Marian Robinson never made it a goal of hers to live in the White House. She enjoyed living in Chicago, but since her daughter reached out, she decided to move there and help. Still, her reluctance was no secret. Marian’s son and Michelle Obama’s brother, Craig, said in a 2009 New York Times interview that she went there “kicking and screaming,” adding that he was worried about the two of them and the difficult journey they would embark on. 

Marian essentially lived her own life, living on a different floor of the White House and only eating dinner with the Obamas once in a while. Still, Michelle told Oprah in an interview that her mother’s presence was invaluable and helped foster a sense of family and community in the White House. 

Finally, Marian came to enjoy living in D.C., often visiting the Kennedy Center, appreciating the local restaurant scene, and experiencing the scope of entertaining White House events for a full social life. Michelle even told the New York Times about her mother’s lifestyle: “Sometimes we have to plan our schedule around her schedule.”