Staffer Resigns After Comments About Obama Girls

A Republican staffer made negative comments about President Obama's teenage girls, apologized, and resigned. Elizabeth Lauten, communications director for a Tennessee representative, posted on her Facebook page during the annual White House turkey-pardoning event:

"Dear Sasha and Malia, I get you're both in those awful teen years, but you're a part of the First Family, try showing a little class. At least respect the part you play. Then again your mother and father don't respect their positions very much, or the nation for that matter, so I'm guessing you're coming up a little short in the ‘good role model' department. Nevertheless, stretch yourself. Rise to the occasion. Act like being in the White House matters to you. Dress like you deserve respect, not a spot at a bar. And certainly don't make faces during televised public events."

Video of the event shows the girls at the president's side during his speech and the traditional turkey-pardoning.

A Forbes writer criticized Lauten, noting that the event is silly, and the girls acted as expected: as awkward teenagers embarrassed by their father's "dad-jokes." Elisa Doucette also questioned Lauten's apology.


 According to Doucette, this would have been a better apology:

I wanted to take a moment and apologize to Sasha and Malia Obama for a post I made on Facebook earlier today judging them at the annual White House turkey pardoning ceremony:

When I first posted on Facebook I reacted to an article and I quickly judged the two young ladies in a way that I would never have wanted to be judged myself as a teenager. After many hours of prayer, talking to my parents, and re-reading my words online I can see more clearly just how hurtful my words were. Please know, those judgmental feelings truly have no place in my heart. Furthermore, I'd like to apologize to all of those who I have hurt and offended with my words, and I pledge to learn and grow (and I assure you I have) from this experience.

Discussion Starters:

  • After watching the video, what's your view of the girls' behavior? Are Lauten's comments justified?
  • Compare Doucette's revised apology to Lauten's. What differences do you notice? What principles of business communication does Doucette suggest?