Washington remains obsessed with all of the hot political gossip in Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Suskind's new book, Confidence Men, about the inner workings of the early Obama administration. The quote that so far has garnered the most attention is former communications director Anita Dunn's assertion that the White House boys' club atmosphere could have qualified as a "hostile workplace" under law. So why did Suskind omit the possibly exculpatory part of her quote?
Anita Dunn has been denying ever saying anything like this, so Suskind lent the Washington Post his tape of their interview. Here, via the Huffington Post, is what Suskind writes in his book:
"But looking back," recalled Anita Dunn, when asked about it nearly two years later, "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."
And here's the Washington Post's transcription of the interview tape:
"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," Dunn is heard telling Suskind. "Because it actually fit all of the classic legal requirements for a genuinely hostile workplace to women."
So what do these omitted words mean? That the White House would have been in court for a hostile workplace if it weren't for Obama's successful intervention, or that it would have been in court for a hostile workplace but that would've been such an embarrassment to Obama's presidency that they'd never consider acting on it? Or something else! We'll figure it out eventually. It would've been nice to see that "if not for [X]" part in the book, though. Wouldn't that have been nice, Ron Suskind?
And just to be clear: This is not denying the overall, corroborated point that the White House atmosphere really sucked for women!
[Image of Anita Dunn via AP]