Michelle Obama Denies Telling Carla Bruni White House Life is "Hell"

Michelle Obama, left, and Carla Bruni-Sarkozy in Strasbourg, France, April 3, 2009.
Michelle Obama, left, and Carla Bruni-Sarkozy in Strasbourg, France, April 3, 2009.

Updated 7:13 p.m. Eastern Time

A spokesperson for First Lady Michelle Obama is denying a book's claim that first lady Michelle Obama told French first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy that life in the White House is "hell."

"The First Lady never said that," Katie McCormick-Lelyveld said.

French Embassy spokesman Emmanuel Lenain also called the claim false.

"Mrs. Bruni-Sarkozy distances herself completely from the content of the book 'Carla and the Ambitious,' which was not authorized and the authors alone are responsible for its contents," Lenain, spokesman at the French embassy in Washington DC, said. "The words attributed to the First Lady of the United States were never said."

The Daily Mail newspaper first reported the book's claim that Mrs. Obama responded the following when asked by Bruni-Sarkozy about life in the White House: "Don't ask. It's hell. I can't stand it."

The Daily Mail reported that the book was written "in collaboration with Miss Bruni," but the statement above contests that claim. 

CBS News political analyst John Dickerson said that "the people who dislike Michelle Obama will run with this reported anecdote," despite the fact that there is no way to know that it is true.

"When Michelle Obama was unknown, a quote like this might have been more painful, but now she's become known as the first lady and people generally like her," he said.

He noted that if the quote was true, the response to it becoming public would to some extent prove her point.

"If this is true, the sentiment is not a new one for first ladies or presidents for that matter," said Dickerson. "They have all, over time, at certain times, said that the office was brutal and difficult and one of the reasons it's brutal and difficult is because you can't even have a private moment with the wife of the head of another country without it being reported in some gossipy way."

One of the authors of the book told CBS News in Paris that they stand by the "it's hell" quote attributed to Michelle Obama, but wouldn't disclose the source.

Brian Montopoli is a political reporter for CBSNews.com. You can read more of his posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.