Why Did Ron Suskind Misquote Anita Dunn?


Hmmm. Speaking of whether the Obama White House had the atmosphere of a boys club, Peter Wallsten and Anne Kornblut wrote more about this in the Washington Post yesterday. There really do seem to be legitimate complaints on this score, but on one of the most dramatic quotes about this, there’s a striking mismatch between what Ron Suskind heard and what he reported in his book. Here’s what he said he was told by former White
House communications director Anita Dunn:

Looking back, 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 for women.

But here’s the full quote:

I remember once I told Valerie [Jarrett] that, I
said if it weren’t for the president,
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.

This doesn’t necessarily change the substance of the charge about the White House atmosphere — though it might, depending on what Dunn meant — but it definitely changes what it suggests about Obama himself. Why on earth did Suskind leave that bit out? It’s only eight words, and it’s not as if he was short on space.

UPDATE: Suskind explains the quote truncation here. As it turns out, his explanation sounds pretty kosher. He says it was Dunn herself who asked for the truncation when he reviewed the material with her prior to publication.

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