tv QA with Barbara Feinman Todd CSPAN February 19, 2017 8:00pm-9:01pm EST
then we will have supreme court justice ruth bader ginsburg talking. later, vice president hands talks about the transatlantic relationship in the annual munich security conference in germany. ♪ >> this weekend q&a, georgetown professor our refinement todd -- barbara feinmann todd. and how she was still able to did herself out of the washington swamp. book,bara todd, your pretend i'm not here, why the title? salient reasonst
is because i felt as if i was not here. others treated me as if i was not visible. that was in part because of the role i played, i was a ghostwriter. it was easier for people who needed a helper to pretend as if i was not there. host: why? washingtonople in want power. they want to appear powerful. seen by a lot of people as weakness. host: we are going to talk about a lot of the people, he will name a lot of them to know how involved you are. barbara: i want to make a distinction right off the bat. was not people i helping as a ghostwriter, i was
a researcher. a consulting editor, i was a book midwife. people i goes wrote for, some people it was in between, other times i was mostly a helper. host: that includes what names? barbara: i helped hillary then there was bond -- bob woodward as a researcher. i did some editing for them. naggings some cajoling, , depending on who that was. that kind of stuff. host: my favorite is more a taylor. he was a republican in the presidential race of 1992. is a owner oftill
a tire company. he is a wonderful character. i talk about how it made him a character in a campaign diary. michael, went on to write a book. host: let me show some videos, so we can talk about hillary clinton. here she is back on february 1996. were -- friends who read every word, every critique. i started making a list, i was nowhere near done. i said i cannot do this. i was afraid i would leave somebody out. was someone paid to spend time with you?
>> i think her for what she did for me. i was grateful for that help. that is you. barbara: that is me. host: what is your reaction to that? i see that and so much more, it is exposure therapy for me. i don't have much of a reaction at this oink. acknowledgment pages can go into hundreds of names. mrs. clinton came up with 16 aids and she was afraid she would leave somebody out. that to me does not seem at a good enough reason to have an acknowledgment page, especially because i would be thanked in my contract. the thing about not been i did noted is that need the attention if i would
have been one name and a sea of names. how did, how did you get involved with her in the first place? barbara: i have done a lot of work for simon and schuster. woodward, they were all published by simon and schuster, there legendary editor got to know me through that. giving me other assignments, some other editing assignments. there was some rewriting that had to be done, some line editing, they farm that out. got, i had moved out temporarily to get some reading
-- writing done. this is embarrassing, i had gotten a faxed machine, this was back in 1995. 94, when she was first lady. machine, up my faxed the phone did not work. which was great, because i was trying to write. i got an one day and faxed. it said are you available, i have something interesting? i pick up the phone and said yes, what is it? she told me i cannot tell you but it is a woman in washington. are you available and the next few days for an interview? she said thend
white house is going to call you. -- i could not believe that it would be hillary clinton. and the white house called said hillary clinton like to meet you and talk to you about helping her write a book, can you be ready in a couple of hours. i said yes, it was an hour and 45 minute drive away. had garden soil under my fingernails, i had to into arm myself semi-professional looking person. me, after i got the gig. host: how long did you work for her? barbara: i worked for her for eight months. host: something happened that led to a story you have in the book?
was, i'mwhat happened going to give you the long answer. havingppened is, i was trouble getting enough face time with mrs. clinton. the scheduler to put me on the schedule. she cap trying very hard. seeing the scheduler, being a first lady is a tough job. i just was not getting enough time with mrs. clinton to get the rawaterial to have material and put it into a front -- first draft. host: it takes a village to my believe you call that your title. so, what happened next is i got a call saying i should
come over to the white house, there was going to be a debriefing, this is clinton has gone on a trip to egypt and several other countries. i should go over and get some material from the staff members. i went over and long story short, i end up in this beautiful room in the private residence with these two women, i did not know who they were. names,ot recognize their mrs. clinton came in shortly after, there was one or two staffers in the room. doing what i would call an exercise where they had talk to famous people who have passed. people who she admired.
, it hadn unusual scene nothing to do with the book as far as i could tell. that was not something she was going to want to put in a book, somehow i could tell she was very fearful about keeping anything personal in the book. also, the mood struck me as strange. she seemed very vulnerable in this. i did not really understand why i was there. of i feltther moment like everybody was pretending i was not there. poornot mean that as in me, i felt like i was invisible. i felt like a fly on the wall.
that happened in april of 1995, i had been there for a bout three months. i went home and i thought to woings, one that is weird, t i don't know how i can use that in the book or i. the deadline was buried down upon us and i did not have any material. i did not tell anyone about that , i told one family member because -- it was one of those things where you go through these things and you need to say it out loud to somebody else. you need to get some input. , at the endt away fallptember, it was in the
of 1996. i had to turn my manuscript in, the white house signed off on it, i was going to take a trip .o bob woodwardfor first as an investigator, then solely for him. late 1987,employ in he remained a mentor. will isned a friend, he somebody who i would go to if i had a problem. he got me my job working for carl bernstein. he was there for me. both personally and professionally. he called me up and invited me he wanted to
discuss the book and we were both going to be gone. a veryover and we had , thenriendly conversation he said let's take a walk. it was a beautiful fall day. it struck me as a little strange, he is not one to invite you to take a walk. he is always working, he is always focused on what he is working on. we went for a walk, it was a long walk. going on andt was he was asking me about my work in the white house that he was trying to empty my pockets. on, i hadt was going worked for the man for years. i was -- i was seduced by the
, i wanted to be helpful. i had always been in this role -- my friends and i would joke about this. we call that our girl friday. a friend of mine gave me a postcard from an old movie, it was called idea girl. ande was a young woman there were these three guys in the background. informatione of that bob wanted. i did not articulate that to myself, when i look back and i this stupid thing, i think it comes down to that. him, i'd spoken general terms about what it was like
being in the white house that i told him that story. i told him you cannot use that there was only these two women in the room who were doing this or it then there was one or two willers and mrs. clinton know i was the source if you use this. i was very worried about that. i trusted him. for more thanim four years, much of that time was in his house. with his family, i became close to them. i trusted him. it was stupid. i know that people who read my book and watch this interview will roll their eyes and say come on. i am with them. it was stupid. who has not done something
stupid, mine ended up having to be headlines. what he did was and reported the story, he had talked to other people in the room. host: how long after was this? barbara: i don't know the exact date rate it was late september or early october, this is 1995. his book is not come out until june of 1996, this was the fall of 1995. i knew her book was not coming out until 1996 later. then his book came out the
following june. in june, the day before the his bookn post excerpt and said i have to give you a heads up. that she called and said i have storye a heads up, your is in the book, you are not named. i was furious, i stated the me, it isy not naming as bad or worse or did they knew i was in the room. , i told you you cannot use this. host: what happened? barbara: it came out, it was one of the big explosive things. there is always something. there were headlines all over the place, saying hillary
clinton is in a seance. it is all kinds of sensationalized. host: did anybody point the finger at you? barbara: for your younger a beloved respected political columnist at the who died several years ago. she wrote a column about this said that i had been his assistant and she basically connected the dots. ran ahe new york observer story and accused me of being the source. host: what is your reaction to
all of this? barbara: i was devastated. i was devastated by my betrayal and my own stupidity o. aboutwas so much going on --t and other things, you are stupid, but you are talking to a friend you sayone you work or, here is a story and you cannot use it, why does that make you stupid? , what hasour reaction been your relation to him ever sense? --bara: let me ask her answer the first part first. because he ispid a reporter first and foremost.
it was a good story. realized that he may do this. i should not have taken that chance. him sincenship with then, he invited me to a couple of parties and i went to a couple of them, i called him once when i needed a reference. i was getting hired for and illustrating gig, the person for applying it and reference from him. i called and asked if he would, he did. host: have you gotten any other reaction from him? he said that my account was not correct at all.
-- word here is bob would back in 1991, let's watch what he says here. what is the hardest? bob: i would say my book on the cia. they are a agency that plays a very dangerous game. they are trained to manipulate. given the straight story and getting to know the head of the cia at the time of the book. that is probably the most difficult as a effort. do?: what did he ask you to barbara: do you mean what was my role on the book? party.t the
barbara: so to complete a separate stories, the party. the party story, i actually taught journalism at georgetown. i just told this to my students. we are doing ethics right now, it was an example of -- they always like to hear when their professors are people. an example of me as a young woman, i was 26 at the time. i was doing something slightly of aical, it was kind funny story. it is a good teaching tool. this is what happened. --woodward found out that there was going to be a casey. party for bill it was going to be a completely
closed party at the watergate. , bob came out of his bradleynd called ben over. , i only knew him the girl who answered his phone. the washington post, he was executive editor. bob asked him to come over, there was a conversation during for theey decided that book it would be great if they to theo was invited private party and what went on. i don't know, let's send our .reath -- let's send barbara
what they decided was i should get dressed up and go there on a saturday night. ,his was before cell phones they decided that bob should stay home, he should be by the phone in case i got caught. in case i got arrested. they were really enjoying this because they could see how afraid i was. this was at the watergate hotel. i said it yes i will do it. saturday night came around and i got dressed up in this lack .elvet cocktail dress it was sort of off the shoulder. i went to the watergate, i asked the front desk where the party was. their work secret service guys posted outside the door where there was the party going on. the part where
the teaching moment comes in. i said i am always late for these things did they laughed and i laughed and i went on. i was the youngest person there by about 30 years. over to the bartender and i get a club soda, i was too much of a girl scout to drink. was milling around this room, there were not that many people, especially when you know nobody. there was nobody to chit chat with. thought i-- i bet i was somebody's knees. there was a conversation going on, i feel this hand on my shoulder. it was a hand on my bare shoulder, i hear behind me, i
bet i know who you are. i turned around and i say i bet you do or did i was asked if i garman. was about 10 years younger, i must have looked like her. instead of out -- outing myself and i said there is henry and i would over to henry kissinger and i just stood there. ien i ran to the bathroom and don't have the best of memory, so i wrote down a bunch of the names. are back out and there place cards for the dinner, i write a bunch more names down. makes ahe service guys
joke about my bladder. that was the problem, it was a seated dinner, it was going to be musical chairs. i went to the payphone and i called and said i have a lot of names, i know who is here, basically can i go home. he said it would be great if you stayed for the toast, go get more. that is a great journalism lesson. i go back into the room, everybody is sitting down, they start giving toasts and i write down". i go back and there is a woman who works for the watergate looking at me suspiciously and she says is everyone ok, meeting why aren't you seated i said i don't want to interrupt i have a cough. she gives me cough drops and i take one, i run back to the bathroom and i write another quote.
then i see her talking to somebody else who looks like hotel security and they start walking towards me, i've run up the stairs and down the street in my stocking feet. it was a paragraph with none of that storytelling, who is there and what the party was it was a paragraph. that is the party story you are referring to that i wrote about. is bill caseyy suffering a seizure, it turns out he had a brain tumor. bob wanted to go interview him. first tod to send me figure out where he was.
protect hisying to privacy. i went over to the hospital and and ited walking around felt like i did not want to do this. the man was dying it felt creepy. it was not a moral thing, i did not feel comfortable. because i did not want to go back to bob i-8 went into the chapel there and i sat down and i was thinking about mi cut out for journalism or it i really do not feel comfortable following and chasing people in this way. i went back and told him that i could not find him, this was the truth. host: >> were you going to talk to him? thatra: my memory was not
he expected me to go into the room and interview him. he wanted for me to go no one is going to recognize me. to notice me.g pretend i'm not here. if we were to start roaming , peoplehe hospital recognize him. the idea was that if he knew where casey was, he could go right there. i was like an advance man. host: but he did go there. barbara: i went back and said i could not find him. so woodward went. he did find him. he came back. super excited. woodward is a very called person. he values control. self-control. he was really excited that day.
storyd me exactly the that he then put in the book. host: which was? askeda: which was that he wholewhy they did the iran-contra deal, and casey said because i believed. took great exception to this. caseyidn't believe that couldn't speak, that he couldn't -- that he was out of it. bob was very clear on what he heard. in the hospital room that day. host: how soon after that did bill casey guy? barbara: i get remember. a couple months. host: here is some video of ben
bradley who is the ultimate boss other than kay graham at the post. >> you think a bunch of people in the beginning. barbara feynman was my researcher. she writes books herself. now helping hillary clinton. i'm not sure i'm supposed to say that, but i just did. the reason i said hold that thought, because when you talk to ben bradley, just the two of you about bob woodward, what was his reaction? barbara: i have actually never seen that clip. after i worked for woodward, i worked for carl bernstein. things, andother
then been decided to write his autobiography. he hired me on woodward's recommendation. he got a book deal to do two books, his autobiography at a book he ended up never writing called how to read a newspaper. decided to doe the book, i was the researcher and he was writing it. the way we decided we were going to pull the book out because it had been many years since he had written a book. thenld interview him, and a series of interviews. then i would transcribe the and sometimes make suggestions and sometimes just give him the transcript. that would be the raw material for him to work.
went for the most part chronologically. we would do one a week or one every two weeks. we would sit there for an hour or two and talk just the way we are. when we got to the watergate a longerit turned into -- other things came into the conversation. one of those was he said that he had a residual fear in his heart that may be some of the details of watergate had been embellished or exaggerated. he didn't use those two words. had a residual fear that some of it was not quite right. i don't member the exact wording.
later in the conversation, it death bedthe casey scene. that i hadthe story gone to the hospital to look for casey, and not found him and .ome back and then bob went bob told me what happened. he expressed a little bit of just this tiny bit of doubt about that. that in the conversations that ban and i had, it was a quiet place to reflect, and it was a place things thatld say he had control over.
it was for his autobiography. are in hiscripts papers, which were given to the center at university of texas austin. it is all out there in the public now. he was not thinking about posterity, or maybe he was. my point is that he felt free to say those thoughts that we all have. book.uded this in the -- there is not a big headline here saying then -- ley doubted it is ben bradley reflected on this reporting and just had some reflection. host: over the years of this
program, a name that has been mentioned more than anybody else is alice mayhew. only network that has any video of her because she won't talk to us. this is a less mayhew back in 2003. .> this is a book the subtitle is war and peace, vietnam and america october 1967. to addresse needed was does vietnam seem like a very long time ago? is it still relevant? a writer with the resources and the talent and the meticulousness and dramatic drive bring it to life in such way that it is relevant now? host: who is alice mayhew and
what role has she played in your life and many others? mayhew is ace legendary editor. she is still working after many years. she has edited some of the best writers and thinkers that our country has seen. she is not somebody who likes the limelight. i am not surprised you have not gotten her on the show. think she should talk to you, at whatshe is so good she does and she really has an obligation to share that with the next generation. she is a genius editor. host: what does that mean? barbara: it means a lot of things. who can hear a pitch for a book idea and just know instinctively whether or
not it is a good book. whether or not that is the book you should be writing. editor, terrific line someone who goes line by line and fixes what you do. she prods at just the right moments. she is a tough love editor. she is scary. i was afraid of her because i respected her so much. is -- i don't know but i hade, sadly -- so much respect for her, and she in my life, she was an older woman who was an amazing model. host: why do you think you had no contact with her after that? barbara: she recommended me to be the ghost writer for it takes
a village. she was not the editor on it. ,obody told me this directly but when i heard at the time from people, that she was editing other books and it would have been a conflict of interest for her to be the actual editor on it. she recommended me for it. hillary clinton is a huge moneymaker for simon & schuster. that.collateral damage in versus feinman todd hillary clinton. if you are simon & schuster -- yeah. host: why did you wind up writing this book for morrow, owned by harpercollins? barbara: my literary agent sent several publishing
houses. morrow.hem was henry faris is my editor. assistantce mayhew's when i was bob woodward's assistant. when we fell out of touch, we had not talked to each other and more than 20 years. agent among the people she shut the run to. touch.just fallen out of career and he his had edited a lot of great books, including dreams from my father, barack obama's book. he -- if noht that other reason, i thought he would kick cake out of reason --
out of reading the book proposal. occidental in to california, then went to uc berkeley around the time that barack obama was there. you studied writing. you also in the course of this book tell the story of a ghost writing you had with senator bob kerrey. barbara: it wasn't ghostwriting. i was his researcher and his editor and i was his knowledge. host: a nebraska senator at one time. every person who has gone into war has struggled with the question did i do it right? i struggle with that question 1969tely since february when i lead u.s. navy seals on an operation under which we received fire, returned it, and then found only apparently innocent civilians had been killed.
for more than three decades i have carried this deeply private memory with a sink -- a sense of anguish that words that, adequately convey. before you talk about his experience in vietnam, you tell a story in the book about the birds. barbara: yes. host: what's the story? for about a decade, my brother, sister and i owned a house, a small house out on the eastern shore. it is situated on a marsh. it was a place that i would go to to write or to just take friends there. book,ob was writing his the demands of the senate, it was very hard for him to get good writing time and focus, and
for me to be able to work on the book with him. we decided to go out to this house on eastern shore for a weekend. nobody had been to the house for a couple of weeks. i opened the door and went in, and there were several dead birds in the house. they had flown down the chimney broken.flu was not only was cold air getting in, but it was cold out. a bunch of birds came in and they got trapped in the house and i guess starved to death. a bad scene. they had crashed into some walls comes in pictures were askew. i was really upset.
, and my bedroom was in the top of the house. there were two birds that were up there, and they were dying. but they still alive, were dying. bob wasally upset, and downstairs. he had never been to the house before. he was looking for a bag and something to clean up and remove the birds bodies. i told him about the birds upstairs. just go outside and i will take care of it. and he killed the birds. suffering and they were very close to death. i was not thinking clearly, because i was so upset by the scene. get angry at him, but
i felt very upset and i either said or thought why did you have to do that. host: what impacted that have on you and what does that possibly relate to the story in the book about vietnam? as a devicesed it to get into a discussion about as a womanrstanding who has never served our country , who has never seen combat who has never been around violence, i use that story as a way to talk about how it is really a learning process to me working on the book with bob carey to try and understand how he felt
and what he had been through. , the clip we just saw, that has not been revealed publicly yet. there was a reporter who wrote thatew york times story the reporter turned into a book. host: which said what about bob carey? barbara: there was just this whole big controversy about what did bob remember had he and his men killed women and children cold-blooded, where they were war criminals. bob wasn't writing a memoir about war. his father had fought and his
uncle had fought and died as a .esult of being captured unsuited to help on this book the further we got into it. understand what he was struggling with, because a good researcher, a good ghost at leastas to really for a short time slip into the skin of another person and not only sympathize but empathize. host: another story, this one is margieated, but it is margolis who started in this town as a reporter, married a congressman from pennsylvania.
she ran and won one term. her site is now married to chelsea clinton. here is marginal goalless, you helped. i think what we need more of is we need the body to look like the rest of the nation, which it does not. we are 11% in this body. does not legislation make. we made the first step in the right direction. i think we are a long way from being the kind of representative body that the constitution said we were supposed to be. is baloney on white bread with mayo right now. the one vote that helped bill clinton pass a budget and she lost the next election. how did you get involved with her? agent -- i had a different agent at the time, who
is a terrific agent of the new york. she had been trying to sell a novel that i had written. she called me up and said the bad news is that i can't sell your novel. the good news is is i have a gig for you. it is a ghostwriting the. how would you feel about ghostwriting? she said it was for this new congresswoman and was going to be a book about the year of the woman, which is what they called all these women being elected and coming to serve in congress. book andrite the whole i would interview her and the other women in congress. i would write the book. it had to be done in six months. it was a big break for me.
bradley.king for ben much of his book was done but not all of it. i felt he really didn't need me anymore and i set up this opportunity. he said go with god. interviewed -- i followed her around, i interviewed most of her colleagues, most of her female colleagues. it.edited host: what did you think about the things are female colleagues said about her? thatalk about in your book it started to sound familiar and started to sound they were being very careful with what they said. barbara: they want talking about her, they were talking about congress. when i started to notice was that everybody was very careful about what they said.
because it is really hard to get elected to go to congress. you have to be careful about your messages, particularly for women. they were very guarded. they were very careful. that really brings us back to your very first question, which is why is the title of my book pretend i'm not here? and that's because i was having trouble getting these congresswomen to be real, and to let their guard down so they could tell me interesting stories. i tried a new approach one day and said let's pretend like we are making a movie, and the movie is about you and you coming to congress. what would be the opening scene of the movie? pause,y would be this and you could see this spark that was opening them up. they thought of something. they were so afraid to say
something. i said just pretend i am not here. that helped relax them. i started to get better material for the book. when i was looking for the title of my book and was reading through my manuscript and saw said, the title of my book. run: here is one of the ads back in 1996 when he ran as a republican in the primary. >> tried problem that has cost americans hundreds of thousands of jobs. it is too simple for politicians to understand. move customs up to sidney nebraska. he think that will cut down on their profits? they make it hard for us to trade over there, we make it hard for them to trade over here. and we get our jobs back. would you call that fair trade? .> no host: so, you said michael lewis
got you into this job. barbara: i did ghostwrite it. morry taylor would go on radio shows and tell everybody about this nice little jewish girl who was a ghostwriter. he was the antidote to working in the white house. i came out of the white house gig and all this stuff happened that we talked about. deposed by the whitewater committee because i slept over at the white house when some rose billing records having to do with whitewater were found. just all this unpleasant stuff literally ini was my apartment packing up boxes and i was going to move to key west, and michael williams called and he says what are you doing? and i told him. he says i have got the perfect gig for you. you are going to be more a
taylor's ghostwriter. and i was like i don't think so. he said no, really, you want to do this. it's the best money i ever made. he was just a lot of fun to be around, and he really helped me get my sense of humor back. he reminded me that it is -- to takeo take things seriously but not take yourself seriously. host: grew up in jenkintown, pennsylvania. married how many years ago? barbara: 20. host: one son? barbara: one. her. she is 19 years old. host: we are about out of time. wheregton is a town everything is measured in polls and fundraising dollars. you are either up or down, in or out. you are good or you are bad here it you are a conniving
opportunist or a do-gooder. if you value yourself only by whether you are perceived as a player or not. i have followed into the trap myself, estimating my own value using others criteria. mistaking drugs -- proximity to power for my own usefulness. what is your feeling about washington dc now? barbara: i was just outside of washington. i live in arlington. i love arlington. washington feels like a unique place. it is what i know. hub hast that any power the sorts of things that you read about in my book. i have a love-hate relationship
with washington. it's where i met my husband, it's where i raised our daughter. i teach at georgetown university, which has been infinitely good and kind to me. i am tired of washington. i am particularly tired of washington right now, and the idea of living here under the trump administration sends chills down my spine. host: our guest has been barbara feinman todd. the title of the book is "pr etend i'm not here." it's all about journalism. workedtitle is how i with three newspaper icons, one powerful first lady, and still managed to dig myself out of the washington swap your thank you very much. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017]
♪ >> for free transcripts or to give us your comments about this program, visit us at q and a.org. q and a programs are also available as podcasts. >> if you enjoyed this week's q and a interview with barbara feinman todd coming here are some other programs you might like. washington post columnist sally quinn talks about her life and career, which includes being the founding editor of the -- of a blog. a new york times correspondent discusses his book on the business of government -- this town, to parties and a funeral.
a new york times reporter on her life and career, including covering hillary clinton's presidential campaign. you can watch these anytime or search our entire video library at c-span.org. c-span's washington journal, live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. coming up monday morning, the american enterprise institute gary schmitt will discuss his weekly piece about presidential power. next, a look at recent tensions of nuclear powers north korea, russia and iran. wright joins us to talk about her book on behalf of the president, presidential spouses and white house communication strategy today. be sure to watch c-span's washington journal live at 7:00 a.m. eastern sunday morning. join the discussion.
next come the justice ruth bader ginsburg on her life and career. then come remarks by vice president mike pence at the munich security conference. 11:00 p.m. eastern, another chance to see q and a with professor and author barbara feinman todd. earlier this month, supreme court justice ruth bader ginsburg discussed her life and career at a forum at stanford university. she also took questions from students. this is about 90 minutes.
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