Select journalists given widespread access to White House officials

The White House has strongly pushed back at journalist Ron Suskind for assertions he reported in his new book, “Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington and the Education of a President.”

But Suskind enjoyed plenty of access to the White House to interview senior advisers to President Obama, according to a review of White House visitor records.

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Suskind, however, is the runner-up among other political journalists — following behind Jonathan Alter, who wrote “The Promise: President Obama, Year One.” 

According to the visitor records, Suskind has stopped by the White House at least 19 times. He met with Jared Bernstein, a former economic adviser to Vice President Biden, and David Axelrod, the president’s senior political adviser, who has since returned to Chicago. 

Suskind has defended his book, which has been met with a ferocious White House response for depicting a workplace hostile to women and key economic officials ignoring orders from the president.

The visitor logs show Suskind also had meetings with top White House officials who are women, like senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and Melody Barnes, the director of the White House Domestic Policy Council.

The former Wall Street Journal reporter met with Pete Rouse, Obama’s former Senate chief of staff and now a counselor to the president, at least four different times in early 2011.

Suskind interviewed the president for his book, though it’s not clear from the White House visitor records when that happened. The logs released so far only go up to May of this year.

Alter, formerly of Newsweek, stopped by at least 32 times and met with a slew of economic aides to Obama, such as Larry Summers, Christina Romer and Jason Furman. Alter also had an Oval Office meeting with Obama in November 2009.

After Alter and Suskind, Bob Woodward, who wrote “Obama’s Wars,” had the next most visits to the White House, stopping by at least 16 times. In July 2010, Woodward met with Axelrod, whose visit was noted as “interview w/POTUS,” the acronym for the president of the United States.

Richard Wolffe, also once with Newsweek, who has written two books about Obama, was allowed entry into the White House at least 11 times, meeting with Peter Orszag, the former Office of Management and Budget director.

The co-authors of “Game Change,” Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, had at least five visits each to the White House, stopping in on Anita Dunn, the former White House communications director, and Rahm Emanuel, then the White House chief of staff.

It’s not always clear who the well-known journalists were meeting with at the White House. Several visitor records have low-level press aides listed as the contacts. They could have shepherded the media figures elsewhere in the building for an interview with senior administration officials.


Jonathan Alter

White House visits: 32

Obama administration officials visited: President Obama; David Axelrod; Rahm Emanuel; Valerie Jarrett; Anita Dunn; Dan Pfieffer; Larry Summers; Christina Romer

Ron Suskind

White House visits: 19

Obama administration officials visited: David Axelrod; Valerie Jarrett; Pete Rouse; Jared Bernstein; Melody Barnes

Bob Woodward

White House visits: 16

Obama administration officials visited: President Obama; David Axelrod; Robert Gibbs

Richard Wolffe

White House visits: 11

Obama administration officials visited: David Axelrod; Peter Orszag; Jay Carney

Mark Halperin

White House visits: 5

Obama administration officials visited: David Axelrod; Rahm Emanuel

John Heilemann

White House visits: 5

Obama administration officials visited: Anita Dunn; Pete Rouse