On the Geithner story, Curry demanded: "Did Geithner ignore the president, or didn't he?" He did, Suskind said.
Curry still wasn't finished, forcing Suskind to defend the kind of trivial mistakes that appear in many books. Curry noted that "Confidence Men" refers to CNBC reporter Erin Burnett as "Erin Burkett," and that it also says the Dow Jones industrial average dropped 378 points on Feb. 10, 2009, when it in fact dropped 382 points. "So do you agree," Curry said to Suskind, "that if you cannot get these details right, then the broader analysis ... that you put forth in this book ... has got to be questioned?"
The White House couldn't have written the script better itself.
Now compare that to Suskind's appearance on "Today" back on Jan. 12, 2004, to promote his book "The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House and the Education of Paul O'Neill." Written with O'Neill, the former Treasury secretary turned Bush critic, the book was at least as strong an indictment of the Bush White House as "Confidence Men" is of the Obama White House.
But what a different reception Suskind received on "Today." Then-anchor Katie Couric's first substantive question was, "What, in your view, are the bombshells here?" Another Couric question: "There was apparently ... no debate in the White House ... It was all based on ideology or sort of political expediency?" And then, noting that the Bush White House disputed the book, Couric asked, "(O'Neill) had an unbelievable amount of documentation to back up some of his claims ... correct?" Suskind knocked each softball out of the park.
Why the difference? Was Ron Suskind a great reporter in 2004 and a terrible one in 2011? Or is it OK with "Today" to criticize Bush but not OK to criticize Obama? It sure looks like the latter.