Michael Lewis may be a big-shot writer with several bestsellers under his belt, but when he profiled Barack Obama for Vanity Fair, he was not treated all that different from other reporters covering the White House: he had to get quotes approved. According to the New York Times' Jeremy Peters, Lewis revealed how he got Obama quotes like, “I feel it is an insult to the people I’m dealing with. For me to feign outrage, for example, feels to me like I’m not taking the American people seriously. I’m absolutely positive that I’m serving the American people better if I’m maintaining my authenticity” during a discussion at Lincoln Center on Monday with Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter: the White House had to give the thumbs up before quotes could appear in the story. But Lewis insisted that the White House's demands did not detract from the final product:
Mr. Lewis said that ultimately the White House disallowed very little of what he asked to use. And he described having access to the president that was unusually unfettered. About 95 percent of what he witnessed was on the record, he said.
Earlier in the summer Peters wrote a much-discussed story about how quote approval has become the norm for political journalists covering the campaigns, sparking many news organizations to reexamine their policy.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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