Ron Suskind defends book about Obama administration

The Takeaway

Story by The Takeaway. Listen to audio for full interview.

White House officials are already criticizing journalist Ron Suskind’s book “Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President,” which just came out this week, despite having cooperated with Suskind for years.

Among the book’s more controversial passages are depictions of the Obama White House as dysfunctional, with mean, misogynistic economic advisers undermining a clueless president at every turn.

Defending his book on The Takeaway, Suskind said Barack Obama was not prepared to tackle the economic crisis that marked the early days of his presidency.

“He’s a brilliant man, and he’s a quick study — as good you get at that kind of thing — but what he was dealing with was not just trying to master economic theory up to this point, but having to essentially go beyond that because the crisis we were facing was not what America had faced — there weren’t precedence.”

In the book, Suskind describes how the president “gets the wind knocked out of him” by his advisors Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Economic Council Larry Summers, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and others, who continually undermined the president’s efforts to fix the economy.

Geithner, commenting on the book said, “I lived the original and the reality I lived, we all lived together, bears no relation to the sad little stories I heard reported from that book.”

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney went even further and accused Suskind of plagiarism, saying, “one passage seems to be lifted almost entirely from Wikipedia.”

Suskind claims all statements made by the people in his book can be substantiated, and that no one, even Geithner, has actually denied anything attributed to them in the book.


“The Takeaway” is a national morning news program, delivering the news and analysis you need to catch up, start your day, and prepare for what’s ahead. The show is a co-production of WNYC and PRI, in editorial collaboration with the BBC, The New York Times Radio, and WGBH.

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