Former President Barack Obama received a $400,000 speaking fee for an appearance at an A&E Network event on Thursday. The news came amid controversy over Obama accepting a fee of the same size to appear at a Wall Street firm's conference.
The "History Makers lunch" was hosted by A&E's history channel and attended by representatives of A&E advertisers, the New York Post reported. Those in attendance included Harvey Weinstein, Anna Wintour, Bob Sauerberg, Janice Min, and Penske Media CEO Jay Penske. Obama received a standing ovation on entering the room.
The former president's appearance featured a 90 minute interview with historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. Goodwin asked Obama questions on what he most missed about the White House (the view of the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial in summer), and about life after office. Obama informed the crowd that in the three months since leaving office, he has not yet been behind the wheel of a car, and is still relearning how to use his coffee machine.
Goodwin asked Obama about how he had handled frustration or anger while in office.
"For starters, by not having a Twitter account," Obama quipped.
Obama's appearance came in the wake of controversy over his accepting another $400,000 speaking fee to appear at a healthcare conference hosted by the Wall Street firm Cantor Fitzgerland LP. The former President had attacked Wall Street firms during his 2008 campaign and early time in office.
"I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat cat bankers on Wall Street," Obama told CBS's "60 Minutes" in 2009.
The one-time $400,000 speaking fee is nearly double what failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton made for similar gigs, and the same amount as Obama's yearly salary during his Presidency.