Journalist Ron Suskind spent 746 hours interviewing 200 people. The Obama White House gave him extraordinary access, including to the president and his inner circle.
Yet Suskind’s new book “Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President” paints a vicious portrait of the Obama White House economic team, alleging that rivalries, dysfunction and insubordination were all present amid the worst financial crisis of our time.
The White House, however, fiercely disputes Suskind’s account, pointing to several quotes as being misquoted or taken out of context. Below, the three most hotly contested quotes:
— Larry Summers, former director of the the White House National Economic Council:
Suskind quotes Summers as saying to colleague Peter Osrzag: “We’re home alone. ... There’s no adult in charge. Clinton would never have made these mistakes.”
Rebuttal: In a statement, Summers called the descriptions of him “hearsay” and “a combination of fiction, distortion and words taken out of context.”
— Anita Dunn, former White House communications director:
Suskind quotes Dunn as saying: “This place would be in court for a hostile workplace. ... Because it actually fit all of the classic legal requirements for a genuinely hostile workplace to women.”
Rebuttal: Dunn says she was badly misquoted by Suskind, and said she told Suskind “point blank” that the White House “was not a hostile environment.”
— Christina Romer, former Obama chair of the Council of Economic Advisers:
Suskind quotes Romer as saying she felt “boxed out” from a meeting by Summers, and that she “felt like a piece of meat.”
— Romer denies having ever said the quote.
Speaking about the book as a whole, Jared Bernstein, who served served as Vice President Biden’s chief economist until earlier this year, told ABC News: “It doesn’t sound at all accurate to me.”