The New York Times reporter who authored a controversial new book about the Obamas said on Thursday that she "could have been more precise" about a part of the text.
The White House has run a forcefully negative campaign against Jodi Kantor's book, "The Obamas," since the first details of the work came to light last week. The administration's communications team has mocked, challenged and downplayed many of the scoops in Kantor's book -- from the fights between Michelle Obama and former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel to the story behind a now-infamous 2009 Halloween party. Michelle Obama also spoke out against the book in an interview with CBS' Gayle King on Wednesday.
Kantor has defended her reporting. "They [the White House] haven't disputed any of the facts [in the book]," she told Matt Lauer on the "Today" show on Monday. One study found that many of the attacks on the book were baseless. The book has also received positive reviews in places like the Times (where reviewer Connie Schultz called Kantor a "meticulous reporter") and the Chicago Tribune.
But Kantor has now admitted to at least one weak spot in the text. On Thursday, she responded to Politico about one of the passages in "The Obamas," which says that Michelle Obama's efforts to help stump for her husband's health care plan were mostly thwarted by the West Wing team. Politico presented Kantor with a series of clippings from 2009, all of which were about Obama's public support for the plan -- including one from her own paper, the Times.
"As [former White House press secretary] Robert Gibbs told me on the record, the White House was concerned about putting the first lady in the line of fire," she told the site. "But given the NYT story you mentioned, I could have been more precise about the media coverage."
Kantor is also reportedly getting a grilling from some regular book-buyers. Capital New York tagged along to an event Kantor held at a New York City Barnes & Noble, and reported that she parried questions about her sourcing and about Michelle Obama's response to the book.
Edward Felsenthal, the former executive editor of The Daily Beast and deputy managing editor at the Wall Street Journal who attended the event, told The Huffington Post that the crowd was "deeply interested and very friendly," and that one woman leaped up to thank Kantor for writing the book at the end of the talk.
Kantor's tussles with the White House resemble those of Ron Suskind, who wrote his own book about the White House in September. Suskind received an immediate onslaught of negative coverage from both the White House and many members of the media.
Note: this post has been updated to include Edward Felsenthal's account of the Barnes & Noble event.
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