First draft: Michael Phelps takes cue from politicians

March 13, 2009

Take note politicians. Michael Phelps might have some pointers for you.

PHELPS/He won eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics, but swimmer Phelps sounded more like a politician than an athlete in a morning TV interview today — repeatedly admitting he had made mistakes but sidestepping any direct admission that he had smoked marijuana.

In an interview on NBC’s “Today” show Phelps, who was banned from swimming for three months after a picture was published of of him smoking a “bong” pipe at a party last November, said he had made a “bad mistake”, a “stupid mistake” and showed “bad judgement.”

Asked directly if he had been smoking pot Phelps just said: “It was a bad mistake. I mean, we all know what, you know, what you and I are talking about. It’s a stupid mistake. You know, bad judgment. And it’s something that, you know, I have to, and I want to teach other people not to make that mistake.”

Michelle Obama also headlined one of the morning talk shows, giving her first network television interview as first lady to ABC’s “Good Morning America” from Ft. Bragg, N.C. USA/

She said it hurt to see so many military families have to rely on food stamps to get by and said she hoped to gather information and bring it back to the administration in order to draw attention to the problem and try to find a way to make things better.

The first lady also voiced optimism in the economy, saying her husband was the best person for the job because he is “a focused, clear-thinking, rational man, and that’s what we need right now.”

President Barack Obama will be focusing on the economy again today, meeting with the head of his economic recovery advisory board — former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker.

He may be helped in his efforts to assure Americans about the economy as the stock markets appeared headed for a fourth straight day of gains amid increased investor optimism about the stability of banks.

For more Reuters political news, click here.

Photo credits:  Reuters/Jason Lee (Phelps in interview during filming for commercial in Beijing in January); Reuters/Ellen Ozier (Michelle Obama greets military families at Ft. Bragg)


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

This kind of treatment is totally unfair to Michael Phelps. This fine young man is forced to defend himself against a concavium of hypocrits, the sort of modern Spanish Inquisitors.

Its about time to end this unfair practice, this rogue inference in the private aspects of peoples’ lives, an Orwellian way to hide the prosecutors’ own crimes.

Posted by Tolis Constantinidis | Report as abusive

[…] Original post:  Front Row Washington » Blog Archive » First draft: Michael Phelps … […]

Posted by Front Row Washington » Blog Archive » First draft: Michael Phelps … | Biography of Michael Phelps | Report as abusive

Seriously, can we all just stop talking about michael phelps? who cares that he smoked the most harmless drug known to man. I see snoop dogg on television smoking weed every day, yet people just dont care about that……here is the deal: Michael Phelps smokes pot like any normal college kid, and despite how “terrible” people think weed is, he won 8 gold medals while smoking weed. How much do you want to bet that he used it to help him relax after a long day of swimming/working out? people need to wake up and take a good hard look at their own lives. how many people are addicted to caffeine? how many are addicted to cheeseburgers? how about prescription pills? those things kill more people than marijuana ever has and will, yet since they are “legal” they are ok to abuse. I love this country of hypocrites.

Posted by Sean | Report as abusive

Sean, I agree 99%. The only thing I would point out is that Phelps could not have been smoking pot at the time of the Olympics, it would have shown up in his banned substance screening. As we saw during the Nagano Winter Olympics with Canadian snowboarder Ross Rebagliati pot does show up in the testing done to athletes, we also saw that it doesn’t and shouldn’t matter. Phelps’s problem has been with advertisers who are afraid to put their brand name on a pot smoker. Maybe Phelps can get some endorsement deals in the Netherlands where things are a little less uptight.

Posted by Eric H | Report as abusive

Sean; I agree with you completely. Well, except for one thing.
I love this country of ours; IN SPITE of the hypocrites. :)

Posted by Jude | Report as abusive

Personal Integrity is not something you put in the closet when you go home from your prestigious job or basketball game that has been aired on ESPN….you either foster integrity in your everyday life or you do not. If you do not, you have the choice to start today. Personal Integrity goes across racial lines, religious lines, ages, genders…you name it…there are no limits to where you can go with Integrity! Good Luck Michael. Choose Integrity. It is the true winner.

Posted by Cheryl | Report as abusive

what is happening to eric h tc the only thing he can comment on these days is advocating smoking pot,do you think that this could have had something to do with his snow boarding accident?or is it because he is dismayed at the mayhem that all the democratic spending is causing. obama,s popularity is in free fall because of this,and they cannot blame bush for it, bushes popularity was higher than obama,s at this point.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

Now we know why he can eat so much McDonald’s fast food! He has the munchies! lol ! Pretty funny. I think he should have told the media to flip sand if he liked smoking pot. I would in no way apologize for it. Just goes to show that smoking pot isn’t as bad as what the government makes it out to be. You can win olympic gold medals and smoke weed. Just like politicians can smoke pot, smoke crack, snort coke, hire prostitutes, accept bribes, drink heavily, not pay taxes, hide information, create false statements, manipulate evidence, and whatever else to keep us free and secure! What’s wrong with getting high and swimming? I think he passed all his tests for the olympics, what he does on his own time is up to him. Hats off Michael for puffing it up , just too bad you can’t stand up for your own actions. Of course this story I believe has more dedicated to the first lady than Michael. Yawn…….

Posted by jason | Report as abusive

Brian, to busy riding and working to get deep into things these days, sorry to disappoint you. I think Obama’s approval rating is still in the 60% range, way above what W’s was.
Any speculation on how the stimulus and spending package will work out is exactly that, speculation. So I’ll save my thoughts until something starts happening other than bickering between Congress members who in the end are not affected as we are by the mess the economy is in.
No Brian, pot had nothing to do with my snowboard crash, that’s an AFTER riding thing. However I have always supported decriminalizing pot and cutting down on the number of minor offenders in jails. It would make more room for serious offenders to serve longer sentences and cut the municipal costs of running a jail.

Posted by Eric H | Report as abusive

No, eric, not true. Bush had a higher approval rating than Obama does at this point of his first term in 2000. So get your facts straight.

If you think the courts will not be full of petty crimes, even if pot is legalized, then think again. The court system will never have a shortage of crime and will always be overburdened with things that to some may be petty and to some may be serious.

DUI will still occur at the same rate as before and people will need to go to court the same as always. Pot will fall into the same category as alcohol. In fact, the legal system may even be more crowded by legalizing pot because more people will smoke while driving their vehicles because more people will being to use pot more than ever.

Legalizing it will not solve any social ills.

Posted by TC | Report as abusive

eric h can i link your advocacy for legalizing pot to you mentioning that you had a desire to venture into a horticulture business? this sounds to much of a consequence to me i wonder what tc thinks?

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive