The most frank and intimate portrait of the Trump White House yet
Stephanie Grisham rose from being a junior press wrangler on the Trump campaign in 2016 to assuming top positions in the administration as White House press secretary and communications director, while at the same time acting as First Lady Melania Trump’s communications director and eventually chief of staff. Few members of the Trump inner circle served longer or were as close to the first family as Stephanie Grisham, and few had her unique insight into the turbulent four years of the administration, especially the personalities behind the headlines.
I have read a half dozen ‘behind the scenes’ books about the Trump administration and I found this to be the best book of its kind. A real look at the inside of the Trump White House.55
Ms. Grisham spent over four years working for the Trumps, and finally figured out that they are not nice people. While there are a few dishy insights (just a few), and her ‘realization’ (finally!) that her boss is an abusive creep, his wife an enabler, all a reader can do is wonder, given the many sickening encounters the author details, is ‘what took you so long?’ And throughout, she tries to justify her own actions, defend the ‘first lady’, and blame he media. Duh. Don’t bother.25
This book is a bizarre combination of apologia and self-justification, or Stephanie Grisham trying to have it both ways. To paraphrase, "I'm not excusing my complicity in the grift, lawlessness, cruelty, crafting lies to disseminate to the public, etc., but here's why I did it." The "why" is of no importance to Americans given the January 6 assault on Congress, Democracy, the Republic, the Constitution (which she claims to value generally), and the Capitol Police. Grisham leaves out the part of her White House tenure between the election and the coup attempt. She does, however, claim to have been frozen out of Trump's inner circle on or about election day. How convenient for her, since failure to report federal crimes you know about is itself a federal crime: Misprision of a Felony. One of the weirdest things about this memoir is the lengths to which Grisham goes to create a self-serving but sympathetic picture of Melania Trump, her close friend until she wasn't. Given Melania's public statement slamming this memoir, that effort was lost on Melania. One thing this memoir clarifies is how much taxpayer money was spent by the Trumps for selfish, stupid, unnecessary, vain, and illegal reasons. The whole Trump family basked in taxpayer paid-for luxury. We apparently spent money on a photographer to constantly document Melania's first ladyship in the most contrived and flattering light possible. Melania even spent our money re-creating public events if Melania was dissatisfied with photographs (or lack of same) of herself at those events. Grisham writes proudly of her steadfast loyalty to the Trumps and how she never "leaked" anything about the Trump White House. Then Grisham undoes every bit of that in this memoir, a book-length leak, with 1/6/20 releasing her from whatever obligation she felt to protect Melania. Then there's Melania's Look Book, laying out each and every very expensive outfit she would wear, while she idiotically complained that people focused on her clothes and not her actions, a sin of which Melania herself is guilty. Her total lack of self-awareness is on florid display. But Grisham agrees with Melania and laments that we never saw how much Melania cares about uncaged children. Grisham writes that there was no intention to send a message to anyone when Melania wore that infamous "I don't care, do you?" jacket; while Grisham also helped craft a false narrative that it was a message directed at the press. Inanely, Melania suggested they gaslight the world by claiming there was a circle with a diagonal slash over the word, "don't." Melania Trump comes off as a stupid person's Lady Macbeth, without the capacity for hand-washing regret. "What can you do?" Grisham wrote press releases and Tweets that often were more detrimental and deceptive than they were helpful to anyone. Grisham's pride in her professional reputation, while being bad at her job -- almost always somebody else's fault due to constant and intense palace intrigue -- is a striking level of self-deception. Grisham inadvertently tells on herself repeatedly without being aware of it, in addition to the sins she meant to confess. Grisham is just another fiddler while the Republic burns. It's a book written by a shallow person about even more shallow people, the reading of which was like experiencing two bad trips at the same time, one layered on top of the other. Jonathan Swift wrote that happiness is "a perpetual possession of being well-deceived," i.e. self-deceived. Stephanie Grisham's memoir is a fine example of that self-delusion about Donald and Melania Trump, which she still carries forward despite her tandem effort to set the record straight.25