MSNBC and Richard Wolffe have been taking heat for Wolffe's employment at the network as a political analyst and guest host for Keith Olbermann while also working as a lobbyist/publicist. Now Wolffe's secret Obama book proposal has been revealed.
The New Republic's Gabriel Sherman has learned about Wolffe's proposal for 30 Days: A Portrait of the White House at Work, which would be an insider-y, behind the scenes account of the Obama White House. Wolffe, whose book Renegade, The Making of a President chronicled the Obama campaign, and his now-revealed proposal present an ethical dilemma for the White House. Would it be acceptable for them to grant special access to the presidency to a man working on behalf of corporate interests in his side gig?
In the proposal, Wolffe writes that he has personal relationships with Obama officials at "the highest level" who have already "expressed support informally" for the project. Wolffe envisions a fly-on-the-wall account of a month inside the White House, where he'll be "capturing group dynamics and people in action."
"Mr. Wolffe has not formally presented the White House with a book proposal," a White House spokesperson wrote in a statement to TNR this afternoon. "When and if he does we will evaluate it as we evaluate numerous others, taking account of all relevant factors."
And of course, Richard Wolffe doesn't see any problem with any of the things he's presently doing:
Wolffe doesn't see his corporate ties as a potential conflict. "The idea that journalists are somehow not engaged in corporate activities is not really in touch with what's going on," he told Politico's Ben Smith in June. "You tell me where the line is between business and journalism."
Sherman goes on to detail an interesting encounter between Wolffe and Ben Smith that took place in an airport lounge after Wolffe read something critical Smith had written about him, a story that only adds to the avalanche of unflattering information to come out about Wolffe in the last few days.