White House Disputes Depiction of Obama Family in New Book

White House press secretary Eric Schultz said a new book about the Obama family that describes clashes between first lady Michelle Obama and top aides is “an over dramatization of old news.”

The book’s author, Jodi Kantor, wrote an adaptation of “The Obamas” that was published in today’s New York Times. The story said Michelle Obama has been influential in President Barack Obama’s administration and has criticized the work of top aides including former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and former Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

The story, which Kantor said was based on interviews with more than 30 current or former aides for the book, as well as close friends of the Obamas, also said the first lady at one time considered remaining in Chicago with her two daughters for several months after her husband’s inauguration and has sometimes shunned the spotlight more than Obama’s political aides would have liked.

Schultz called the book “the author’s take, reflecting her own opinions” and said Kantor hasn’t spoken with the Obamas in years.

“The emotions, thoughts and private moments described in the book, though often seemingly ascribed to the president and first lady, reflect little more than the author’s own thoughts,” Schultz said in an e-mail. “These second-hand accounts are staples of every administration in modern political history and often exaggerated.”

Citing anonymous aides, the Times story reported that Barack Obama told White House staff, following Democrats’ loss of Senator Edward Kennedy’s Massachusetts Senate seat in January 2010, that his wife thought the administration was off course.

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