Sometimes the most interesting thing about a rumor is why and how a piece of gossip starts up and gains credibility. Such is the case with this particularly side-eye-worth tidbit that’s made its way from the ever-accurate National Enquirer to The Daily Mail, and to other outlets any day now.

“They” are saying that Michelle Obama has banned actress Kerry Washington from The White House because she’s “too flirty” with the President.

Washington does have a position on Barack Obama’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, was active in his 2008 campaign, and will likely campaign for his reelection this year, so supposedly that’s enough contact for Mrs. Obama to pick up on some shadiness. Meanwhile, it’s merely a coincidence that the plot of Kerry Washington’s new show Scandal involves her character Olivia Pope, crisis manager to the political elite, conducting an affair with television president Fitzgerald Grant. It all sounds like the mish-mash of reality and fiction that one would wake up believing after falling asleep on the sofa with the TV on, especially as Kerry Washington’s mainstream visibility has increased. Oh, and another actress who is on this “banned list” for shameful flirting? Scarlett Johansson. Girl, please.

Back in 2008, early comparisons of Barack Obama to John F. Kennedy quickly gave way to racialized rhetoric about his status as the hope for black America, but those comparison always left out the late President’s charisma-aided womanizing. Aside from groundless accusations about a shady staff liason in 2010, the media has rightfully left the Obamas alone in that regard. While our bet is on Michelle Obama being way too busy to worry about such nonsense, one has to wonder how desperate for jabs folks must be to target the First Marriage.

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