The Washington Post

An Obama book without the Obamas

President Obama---the guy who cannot tell his own story? (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images) (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
The Obamas didn’t talk to you for the book. So how did you get your information?

The story I wanted to write was never going to come from the Obamas’ lips. There’s so much they can’t say. I’d [previously] interviewed each of them on different topics, from religion to parenting to their marriage. I interviewed 33 White House staffers, most of them many times. I wouldn’t trade that for a quick interview with the president, because I’m not sure he’s at liberty to discuss the real questions I asked in this book. In a way, it goes to Barack Obama’s own predicament as president: He’s such a gifted storyteller. Yet can he really tell his own story anymore?

Well, ask him. I know of no federal gag order on the president.

Yet we should never judge a book without having touched its cover. This has got to be fun, considering that Kantor has accomplished one of the following feats: 1) Gathered only positive stuff from the 33 White House staffers and doesn’t feel compelled to sit down with the first couple to get their reaction; 2) gathered some edgy and negative stuff but still doesn’t feel compelled to sit down and discuss it with the first couple; or 3) knows the first couple so well that she can channel their thoughts and thus provide their likely responses to her reporting; after all, Kantor told Chicago: “They know exactly who I am. We have an intense relationship.”

Whatever the case, this approach probably wouldn’t fly at the New York Times.

And I’ve reached out to Kantor for a comment on the degree to which she’s presented her findings to the first couple and am awaiting a response.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.


Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read


Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
Don’t be ‘that’ sports parent | On Parenting
Miss Manners: The technology's changed, but the rules are the same
A flood of refugees from Syria but only a trickle to America
Play Videos
John Lewis, 'Marv the Barb' and the politics of barber shops
Kids share best advice from mom
Using Fitbit to help kids lose weight
Play Videos
This man's job is binge-watching for Netflix
Transgender swimmer now on Harvard men's team
Portland's most important meal of the day
Play Videos
5 ways to raise girls to be leaders
How much can one woman eat?
The signature drink of New Orleans