Ron Suskind, the author of a new White House tell-all that has the Obama administration in vigorous push-back mode, said Tuesday that his book is “densely sourced, and the analysis is pitch-perfect.”
“This is a 500-page book, the fact of the matter is everything in this book is as solid as a brick,” Suskind said in an interview with Ann Curry on NBC’s “Today” show.
“Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington and the Education of a President,” hits bookstores today, but has already stirred up controversy inside the Beltway, with the White House accusing Suskind of making minor mistakes and lifting passages of his book from Wikipedia.
“The White House should be doing something other than Wiki searches,” Suskind told Curry. “In a 500-page book after a week, that’s all they came up with.”
The book offers a portrait of White House dysfunction, with economic adviser Larry Summers and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner running roughshod, ignoring women in staff meetings and slow-walking Obama’s directives on restructuring Citigroup.
Both Summers and Geithner have denied the accounts in the book.
“There was enormous cooperation from the White House and they knew virtually everything in this book before it came out,” Suskind said. “Everyone is under a great deal of pressure, it’s political season.The fact of the matter is they said everything. We have extensive notes and tapes for this book….they were told what would be said next to them…what they said in the book.”
On revelations that women in the White House often felt excluded, and at one point told the president at a dinner that they were talked over in meetings, Suskind said that the Obama White House actually pushed him to deal with the issue.
“Throughout the book, it’s shown that people felt good about the president,” he said. “Part of why the White House pushed me to write about this women’s issue in the workplace is they thought the president solved this issue and in large measure the president says he stepped up here.”
Suskind got access to key figures during his 700 hours of interviews for the book, including a 50-minute sit-down with Obama. In the book’s closing chapters, the president reflects on his years in the White House, saying that the environment during his first two years differs from the atmosphere today in the White House, which underwent major staffing changes after the 2010 mid-term elections.
“I think the real issue is whether the White House will respond to whether the President is still getting gamed by his advisors or not. The evidence is that he is not and in our interview, me and the president, he said, ‘look, I’ve grown into this office, it took a while,’ ” Suskind said on”Today.”
“He was a new president with very little experience, he came in in a crisis. I think the whole point of the book is the evolution of Barack Obama till now, and the president is quite forceful in a way, saying, ‘I’m the president people hoped I would be.’ And that’s part of what the book says.”