I’ve watched April Ryan on televised White House press briefings and as a journalist on news programs. I was eager to read what she had to say about the Trump White House. Under Fire: Reporting from the Front Lines of the Trump White House provided insight into her experiences with the Trump White House and the assortment of Press Secretaries who have battled with the press in Trump’s name. I’d seen many of the confrontations she had with Sean Spicer, Sarah Sanders, and even Trump.
Ryan’s book reveals a conscientious journalist who manages to remain polite and respectful even when she is treated rudely. She states she never expected or wanted to become the focus of a news story. But the unprecedented behavior of the forty-fifth president and his representatives made that happen.
I was watching the press conference the day Trump asked Ryan if she could set up a meeting with the Black Congressional Caucus. I was as shocked as she was by what was obviously a racist question. Trump’s assumption that because Ryan is an African American she would have some sort of “in” with the Caucus gives some insight into Trump’s personality. This is another example of racist remarks he has made throughout his presidency.
Throughout the book, Ryan represents herself as a woman of color dealing with a president who is racist and an administration who not only accepts it but in some cases seems to encourage it. On more than one occasion Trump has spoken derogatorily to women, people of color, and members of the press who disagree with him or ask uncomfortable questions. Ryan falls into all those categories and as such has come under fire from both Trump and his press secretaries.
Understand, this book is primarily about Ryan’s experiences with Trump. She also reveals her feelings about her struggles as a divorced mother of two girls who has been threatened by Trump’s unstable followers. A journalist of high acclaim, recognized by various prominent groups, she had to question whether she should continue in a career she loved or simply pack it in and go home. Ryan’s integrity and devotion to the truth provides a solid foundation to stand up against the falsehoods that regularly come from the White House. By including her tumultuous “friendship” with Omarosa Manigault Newman, director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison, Ryan demonstrates the bizarre inner actions of the Trump administration.
At times heartbreaking, sometimes irritating, and often maddening, April Ryan pulls back the curtain on a White House in turmoil. With a Commander-in-Chief who is unstable, a staff comprised of “yes” men and women, and an administration built on prevarications, the press has come under attack on a regular basis. As one of the many qualified and celebrated journalists who have been called “fake news” by Trump, Ryan reveals the struggles to report the truth by asking the questions Americans need to be answered and the administration wants to bury.
Penned almost like a journal rather than an expose, Ryan preserves her dignity and honesty in this well-written book.
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