Obama Biographer Slams Valerie Jarrett

Alter: ‘There is a lot of fear of her ... She’s not a well-liked figure’

• June 3, 2013 6:15 pm


Obama biographer Jonathan Alter ripped senior White House advisor Valerie Jarrett on MSNBC's Hardball Monday, saying despite her heavy influence on the president, she would make a poor Chief of Staff and was not a well-liked figure by other White House staffers:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Who is the Chief of Staff? Who is the Chief Operating Officer?

JONATHAN ALTER: They don't have a Chief Operating Officer. Remember what Princess Diana said when Prince Charles had his mistress, who is now his wife? He said, ‘The marriage got a little crowded, there were three of us.' That's what it felt like to people like Bill Daley and Jack Lew, anybody who was Chief of Staff in that White House. Because there was a group that includes Valerie Jarrett, Pete Rouse, a small group of other people around. It doesn't work as well as it should have.

MATTHEWS: I've only got one motto. Jim Baker, the president is the boss. He puts in charge a Chief of Staff whose job is to hire, to fire, to make sure people obey the president throughout the government. IRS, everywhere. A complete span of control. That's how presidencies work. When you don't run it that way, you've got to explain why, and I have a real problem. If Valerie Jarrett is so powerful, and it comes across in your book, you don't say negative things about her, why doesn't she become Chief of Staff?

ALTER: She would not be a good Chief of Staff. That doesn't match up well with her strengths, and there is a lot of fear of her. She's not a well liked figure. She's not the boss of that White House. She has a lot of control —

MATTHEWS: Your book makes clear — you said that she undercut a number of the Chiefs of Staff.

JARRETT: She did, but that doesn't mean that she would be better in the job. Look, the problem with Valerie Jarrett's role is it's like the CEO putting his sister in charge of marketing. He describes her as a sister figure, very close confidant who probably shouldn't have all these line responsibilities. It's a blurring of the lines. But that part about the White House is such a small part of my book.