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Did Ron Suskind get it wrong in 'Confidence Men'?

Journalist Ron Suskind is being criticized for inaccuracies and misquotes in 'Confidence Men,' his book on the Obama White House.

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“I remember once I told Valerie 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.”

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When pressed on the quote, a serious omission, Suskind told NBC’s Ms. Curry “It’s a political season…. everyone’s under pressure.”

On Monday, Mr. Geithner also slammed “Confidence Men,” calling it “sad little stories.” In it, Suskind claims Geithner dawdled in carrying out Obama’s orders on the economic crisis, and occasionally ignored his advice.

"I haven't read this book, but, to borrow a phrase, I lived the reality," Geithner told reporters at the White House, according to an AFP wire story. "And the reports I've read about this book bear no resemblance to the reality we lived together."

Refuting that he and other economic advisers were slow to implement Obama’s orders on the economy, Geithner told reporters, "I would never do that. I've spent my life in public service. It's my great privilege to serve this president. And I would never contemplate doing that."

Not surprisingly, Obama’s press secretary, Jay Carney, is also questioning Suskind’s credibility and the book’s accuracy.

"What we know is that very simple things, facts that could be ascertained – dates, quotes, statistics – are wrong in this book,” Mr. Carney said Monday. "In fact, one passage seems to be lifted almost entirely from Wikipedia…. Based on that, I would caution anyone to assume that if you can't get those things right, you [can] get the broader analysis right," he added.

In the Today Show interview Tuesday, Curry also ran through a list of facts and statistics found to be inaccurately stated in the book.

Suskind, however, stood by his book. He pointed out that the book was 500 pages long and that it was hard to check every fact. He also said to Curry about the misquoting charges: “When the curtain is pulled back, [sources] often respond vigorously.” He maintained that “Confidence Men” was not about tearing Obama down but about charting his growth.

“The whole point of the book is the evolution of Barack Obama to now and the President is quite forceful. In a way saying ‘I'm the President, people hoped I would be,’ and that's part of what the book says.”

Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.

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