The Washington Post Plans To Write The Book On Donald Trump

But the paper isn't expecting to hold back scoops in the process.
The Washington Post is devoting two dozens staffers to a Donald Trump book project.
The Washington Post is devoting two dozens staffers to a Donald Trump book project.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW YORK -- The Washington Post has assigned more than two dozen reporters and researchers to work on a Donald Trump biography that the book's publisher is calling the "most thorough and wide-ranging examination" of the GOP hopeful's public and private life.

Washington Post investigative political reporter Michael Kranish and senior editor Marc Fisher will co-author Trump Revealed, which will be published by Scribner on Aug. 23. According to a release, the "comprehensive" account will cover Trump's early days in Queens, his "turbulent careers in real estate and entertainment" and his "astonishing rise" as the Republican front-runner.

Trump has written his own boastful accounts of his life, and his business dealings have been the subject of less-flattering books, including Wayne Barrett's out-of-print Trump: The Deals and The Downfall and Tim O'Brien's more recent TrumpNation: The Art of Being The Donald. But the Post's book is clearly pegged to Trump's candidacy and will hit shelves after the summer conventions and in time for the final months of the 2016 race.

Investigative books on presidential candidates and their campaigns used to drop months, or even years, after voters went to the polls. But as the political news cycle has accelerated, so have publishing schedules. Newsweek, which had fielded a separate reporting team to produce its quadrennial election post-mortem, ended the project during that 2012 cycle. Meanwhile, Politico churned out four e-books in the midst of the 2012 race.

The Post's editors decided earlier this year that they wanted deep biographical coverage of the Republican and Democratic nominees "to be our most distinguished political work," the paper's national editor, Scott Wilson, told The Huffington Post. They considered different strategies, such as publishing a reconstruction of the race after the election, and assembled two teams of reporters.

Kranish, who joined the Post in November from the Boston Globe and was leading one reporting team, had previously co-authored The Real Romney with colleagues at his former paper before Mitt Romney wrapped up the 2012 Republican nomination. Kranish had his agent informally gauge book publishers' interest in the 2016 election on behalf of the Post, and unsurprisingly, there was a desire for a book about Trump.

And Marty Baron, who now runs the Post but was the Globe's editor when it published The Real Romney, will oversee the Trump Revealed project.

Washington Post Executive Editor Marty Baron, who previously led the Boston Globe, will oversee the paper's Donald Trump book project.
Washington Post Executive Editor Marty Baron, who previously led the Boston Globe, will oversee the paper's Donald Trump book project.
Esra Kaymak/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

“Donald Trump is a presidential candidate unlike any we’ve ever seen before," Baron said in a statement. "His candidacy and his positions have defied all conventions and upended the political landscape. Given that he could ascend to the most powerful position in the world, Trump’s life and career deserve to be explored in the greatest depth. That’s what we intend to do, with a huge investment of reportorial and editing resources and with a staff that consistently has led the field in covering his volatile candidacy.”

The Post reported in February 2015 on Trump's presidential aspirations when most political journalists and pundits believed the reality show star was engaged in another publicity stunt. Throughout the race, the Post has covered Trump exhaustively, publishing an average of 92 articles that mentioned him per day last month both in print and online, according to the Washingtonian.

While the Trump campaign has denied credentials to journalists from several news organizations, Post reporters and editors have received good access to the candidate and were granted a couple of interviews in recent months.

Fisher spoke to Trump in January for a feature on the creation of "The Apprentice" and how his reality show fame helped propel him in the media-saturated 2016 race. But the Trump campaign has refused to answer some of the Post's questions for critical reports on his charitable giving.

Though the business mogul has given the Post interviews for articles that may now be used and expanded upon in the book, it’s unclear if his campaign will continue to grant the same level of access if the conversations are used in an unauthorized biography.

Wilson said the Post informed Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks on Friday about the book project. The campaign suggested the Post had been disingenuous in seeking access for newspaper stories that could now be part of a book, he said.

Hicks did not respond to a request for comment.

The Trump campaign reportedly wasn't happy to learn the Post planned a book that included recent interviews for newspaper stories.
The Trump campaign reportedly wasn't happy to learn the Post planned a book that included recent interviews for newspaper stories.
Brett Carlsen via Getty Images

But the Trump campaign won't have to wait until August to find out what's in the biography, because the Post intends to regularly publish stories from the book in the coming months. Wilson said the Post is "kind of flipping the script" on how news organizations generally produce such books.

"We’re going to be writing the book in real time and harvesting off stories from our reporting," Wilson said. "We will be writing chapters in the book and then editors here will take those chapters and make them into newspaper stories."

Wilson said the Trump campaign will be asked to comment when the Post publishes a story that may later factor into the book. And the Post won't be holding back any scoops in the process of working on the larger project.

"We’ll be seeking their input just as we would doing the journalism we’re doing every day," Wilson said. "And certainly, at the end of the process, early this summer, we very much hope to sit down with them and address any outstanding questions we have for them and believe that they should have a chance to respond to before we publish anything."

Wilson said the Post plans on publishing an ebook on the Democratic nominee, though not until after the Trump book is wrapped up. The Post currently has about 12-14 reporters across the national, investigative, style, sports and local desks who are working full time on the Trump project.

Several top Post political journalists involved in Trump coverage this cycle will not be directly involved day-to-day with the book project.

That includes Robert Costa, who is considered to have some of the best access to the Trump campaign, according to sources. Political reporter Philip Rucker, who's covered Trump extensively, is also reportedly not on the book team. Chief correspondent Dan Balz, known for his big-picture election analysis, said in an email he was not involved. National correspondent Karen Tumulty also said in an email she's not a part of the book team, but would help with the project by providing anything she comes across in daily reporting that's considered relevant.

Unlike Newsweek, which divided its election staffers into a magazine team and a post-election book team, the Post's wall will be "fairly porous," according to Wilson. He emphasized that journalists who aren't directly part of the book team can still provide tips for their book-reporting colleagues -- or vice-versa, if the book team comes across time-sensitive information that should be published right away.

One Post reporter who has been a part of daily Trump coverage, Jenna Johnson, has taken a break from her campaign coverage to work on part of the book. When that's done, she'll return to the campaign trail.

Bob Woodward, who recently interviewed Trump alongside Costa, told HuffPost in an email that he would contribute reporting to the book. Woodward, who has authored or coauthored 17 books since helping break the Watergate scandal for the paper, made clear that he was not writing it.

"I currently have no book project but am helping the Post with campaign coverage," Woodward said in an email. "This is because the election is obviously one of those pivot points for the country--perhaps for the world. I guess I would liken it to the 9/11 attacks when I dropped everything to work for the paper."

Thought the Post is investing major resources into the Trump book, it's possible there will be a contested convention and the Republican front-runner won't even be the GOP nominee by the time the biography hits shelves. But Wilson said that even if that happens, the Trump phenomenon will still be worth reading about after Aug. 23.

"We really do believe that Donald Trump is going to be a major figure in the political conversation for some time to come," he said.

This story has been updated to include comments from The Washington Post's national editor, Scott Wilson.

Editor's note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims -- 1.6 billion members of an entire religion -- from entering the U.S.

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