By Waiting a Year to Tell All, Donna Brazile Gets Tongues Wagging
After Trump staffers gave exit interviews after the election, one of her literary agents warned: ‘Same-day exit interviews cost those who do them hundreds of thousands of dollars.’
It was a busy news week (as they all now are), but that didn’t stop Donna Brazile from gobbling up lots of attention with excerpts from her new tell-all book.
On Thursday, explosive excerpts leaked asserted that the DNC had unfairly put the thumbs on the scale in favor of Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary.
These comments set tongues wagging, but also generated tremendous pushback—with the former DNC chair herself seeming to walk away from them herself Sunday on ABC News’ “This Week,” even as she explained that, being from Louisiana, “I’m going to put some hot sauce on each page.”
Dozens of former Clinton campaign staffers signed a letter criticizing Brazile’s depiction of the campaign, writing, “we do not recognize the campaign she portrays in the book.”
Then, late Saturday, the onslaught continued when news broke that Brazile had mulled replacing Clinton on the ballot with Vice President Joe Biden.
It’s unclear to me how much of Brazile’s story is true or false—or if it is simply being over-hyped in an effort to gin up buzz for what might otherwise be just another prosaic political memoir.
It’s entirely plausible that a party chair might briefly consider a contingency plan after the party’s nominee nearly faints on camera. But if that passing thought is never spoken or acted on, does it deserve the amount of clamor and attention that it has gotten? If you want to sell books, the answer is a resounding “Yes!”
By virtue of necessity, successful book authors are almost always shameless flacks. And if the purpose of a memoir is to get inside the writer’s head and see what she’s thinking during crucial moments—and finally shed light on her thinking, then that might be a worthwhile thing—even if her thinking doesn’t always comport with reality.
One big reason Brazile’s comments are garnering so much attention is that she went a year in virtual silence. Had these rumors trickled out randomly, they might have been quickly dismissed. But when a former DNC chair strategically releases written excerpts, it’s virtually guaranteed to make a bang.
I’m reminded of something that Keith Urbahn, one of Brazile’s literary agents, tweeted a while back. After Trump staffers like Reince Priebus and Sean Spicer gave "exit interviews" to the media on their way out the door, Urban warned: "Same-day exit interviews cost those who do them *literally* hundreds of thousands of dollars in book advance & speaking fees."
In other words, keep your powder dry. Don't tell the best parts of your story before the book is ready. Save the good stuff. Let people wonder what you might say later. Always leave them wanting more. (Note: Urbahn’s company, Javelin, also represents me as literary agents and for my TV contract.)
Someone took his advice. Brazile is dominating headlines, and one suspects this, coupled with anticipation, might translate into book sales.
Will another shoe drop? What else might she reveal?
Things could get interesting. And, perhaps even more important, is the fact that this rollout could serve as a harbinger of things to come.
Did I mention that Javelin is doing James Comey's forthcoming book, too?