Note: this post was updated to include more information about Ron Suskind's communications with Anita Dunn over her statement about the White House.
Martin Bashir picked apart a disputed new book about the White House on Wednesday's "Last Word," and asked author Ron Suskind to defend the book's controversial allegations that President Obama provided poor leadership during the financial crisis and oversaw an administration that was hostile to women.
The MSNBC host opened up the interview noting that the president "cannot catch a break," and came right out asking Suskind why his sources have "denounced" the book as "an overheated set of falsifications." Bashir quoted economic advisors Larry Summers and Timothy Geithner, who have said that their accounts were distorted and taken out of context.
Suskind defended his material, chalking the denials up to "a case of buyer's remorse," and asserting that he reviewed his quotes with all of his sources before publication. He also defended the context behind specific controversial quotes, including Larry Summers' that he felt "home alone."
Bashir didn't buy Suskind's defense. He suggested that former White House budget director Peter Orszag, who resigned in 2010, had reported Summers' quote to Suskind in an "opportunity to seek some kind of revenge."
Bashir continued to keep the heat on Suskind about his book's allegations that the administration treated women unfairly. He especially took issue with Suskind's allegation that former White House communications director Anita Dunn called the White House a "genuinely hostile workplace to women."
Bashir asked, "Why did you choose to be disingenuous in the way you presented that quote? Because what she actually she said to you was, 'Without the president, this would have been a hostile environment.'" Suskind defended it, explaining that he had actually thoroughly discussed the precise makeup of the quote with Dunn, who agreed to its final presentation with contextual information about her admiration for the president in the book. He said Dunn was trying to protect her husband, Robert Bauer, who was the White House Counsel at the time, from any sticky situations stemming from the phrase "hostile legal workplace."
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