Barack and Michelle Obama Are Adapting a Book Critical of Trump for Their First Netflix Project

Former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama‘s first project for Netflix will be an adaption of a scathing book about President Trump‘s administration, The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis, according to the latest episode of Katie Couric’s podcast.

“ optioned the book to come up with a series for Netflix to help people better understand the government,” Katie Couric said during her interview with Lewis, who broke the news.

In May, the Obamas announced their decision to produce a variety of content for Netflix through their company Higher Ground Productions.

“We hope to cultivate and curate the talented, inspiring, creative voices who are able to promote greater empathy and understanding between peoples,” the former president previously said, according to a Netflix press release, “and help them share their stories with the entire world.”

The Obamas’ adaption of The Fifth Risk will be their first endeavor in a series production. And it will serve as an entertaining and necessary “civics lesson,” explained Lewis, who is the author of other bestselling books that have been adapted to film, like The Big Short and Moneyball.

As with his other books, in The Fifth Risk Lewis informs and entertains readers about topics that can sometimes be considered tedious. During his interview with Couric, he explained how his book delves into what he sees as the huge issues that Trump’s administration is creating across departments in the federal government — issues that Lewis says are endangering the very stability of the country.

Despite Lewis’ condemnation of Trump, a spokesperson for the Obamas’ production company, Higher Ground, said that The Fifth Risk Netflix project would center around the “civic lessons” it presents and not attack Trump, according to The New York Times.

It will be a “humorous series demystifying the little-known ways in which federal agencies improve our lives and serve our nation, from the food we eat to the planes we travel on,” the spokeswoman told the Times.

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According to the author, problems in the administration began before and during the transition.

“Most everyone involved with , including Trump, were not prepared to win,” Lewis said. “He had not taken seriously the idea that he had to take over this operation.”

According to Lewis, the new president decided to appoint people into government office based on “appearance,” rather than experience.

As a result, many of the briefings that Obama’s team had prepared “for the better part of a year” to present to the new administration were not even seen, Lewis says. For instance, the Department of Energy would typically show incoming officials how to “manage the nuclear arsenal,” so they can “test atomic weapons without actually blowing one up,” Lewis explained.

“Three months ago, I was still getting briefings from very important people in the government that had never been given because no one had ever showed up to hear it,” Lewis said during the podcast. “It’s just a loss of knowledge. Who can run anything that way? There’s no decent argument for not learning about the thing you need to run.”

Lewis revealed that his book also delves into Trump’s alleged ties with Russia and how that affected his decisions during the transition. Specifically, Lewis addressed Trump’s decision to appoint Michael Flynn as national security adviser, despite then-senior aide Chris Christie’s warnings against the idea. Lewis argued that Flynn’s own ties to Russia are a “plausible explanation” as to why Trump wanted him on his team. (Flynn has since pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his connections with Russian officials.)

“I think had positive reasons for wanting chaos. I think they were friends of his… people who had connections to Russia like Mike Flynn, who he wanted to be able to put in important positions,” Lewis said. “I think thinks he functions better if things are not orderly.. was just kind of attracted to, ‘Let the chips fall where they may.’ ‘I’ll take care of all of this. I’ll decide who is going to be in the cabinet,’ mainly by casting them by appearance.”

Those type of staffing decisions have huge consequences, Lewis argued. The government is being dangerously mismanaged, according to his book. Lewis’ hope is to reframe Americans’ understanding of how government works.

“Trump is a symptom, not just cause here. We don’t elect someone who is so ignorant and negligent unless we have gotten to the point where we so misvalue and misunderstand the thing he’s running,” Lewis told Couric. “If society understood the government, if we all had a good civics lesson, we’d all say that person shouldn’t be running that because it’d be a catastrophe because that enterprise, the government, is really important.”

He continued: “The narrative needs to change first, that’s why I wrote the book… So people stop seeing the government as the problem and start seeing it as a tool, as a solution. If this society is going to survive, it’s got to happen.”


PEOPLE.com

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Michelle Obama Says ‘Making Mistakes Was Not an Option’ for Barack as the First Black President

During a recent speech in New Orleans, former First Lady Michelle Obama opened up about race and the unique pressure she and husband Barack Obama faced in the White House during his time as the nation’s first black president.

“Barack and I knew very early that we would be measured by a different yardstick,” Obama, 54, said during a talk at the American Library Association’s annual conference in New Orleans on Friday. “Making mistakes was not an option for us. Not that we didn’t make mistakes, but we had to be good — no, we had to be outstanding — at everything we did. … When you’re the first, you’re the one that’s laying the red carpet down for others to follow.”

She also touched on the dangers of judging people by the color of their skin, something she says she’s experienced first-hand.

“It’s just a shame that sometimes people will see me, and they will only see my color, and then they’ll make certain judgments about that,” she said. “That’s dangerous, for us to dehumanize each other in that way. We are all just people.”

Obama’s appearance comes a few months before the release of her upcoming memoir, Becoming, due out in November.

The former first lady announced the title and release date for her book in a February statement to PEOPLE, saying, “Writing Becoming has been a deeply personal experience. It has allowed me, for the very first time, the space to honestly reflect on the unexpected trajectory of my life … how a little girl from the South Side of Chicago found her voice and developed the strength to use it to empower others.”


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See Barack Obama Get Serenaded by Carolers in Hawaii: ‘We Sounded Terrible … But He Made Our Christmas’

Barack Obama just celebrated his first Christmas since leaving office — but a women’s resistance group gave him a reception fit for a president during his annual holiday visit to Hawaii.

When Windward ReSisters, a women’s movement based in Obama’s native Hawaii, heard he was returning to the islands with his family for the holidays, they decided to welcome the former president by singing Christmas carols outside the Paul Mitchell estate in lanikai, where the Obamas were staying. 

“We got our group together on Saturday and went with our pussy hats and Santa hats and proceeded to Christmas carol in front of the estate,” group member Darlene Mandel tells PEOPLE. 

“We sounded terrible,” Mandel joked.

But their efforts paid off.

Obama, who was hosting a Christmas party at the estate that evening, took a break to come outside and visit with the caroling group.

“After about 10 minutes, he came out with three Secret Service agents and I was ready with my trusty camera,” Mandel says, noting that Obama shook hands with several of the women and hugged one. “He was joking because my girlfriend spilled champagne on him. It was short and sweet and made our Christmas.”

Footage of the former president shows him laughing and joking with the carolers — and even joining them in a few bars of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

Obama can also be heard quipping to the group, “No wonder you’re singing so happy; I didn’t realize there was champagne to go with it!”

“I hope you guys have a wonderful Christmas,” he added before heading back inside.

Mandel later posted the video on the private Facebook group Pantsuit Nation, where it quickly garnered nearly 140,000 likes and almost 7,000 comments.

“As far as I know, this is the only informal Christmas greeting he gave this year, besides the Obama family’s official card,” Mandel says.

 

“He and Ohana (family) are so missed,” she adds.


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See Towering Michelle and Barack Obama Alongside Prince and Harriet Tubman in Massive New D.C. Mural

Former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are among the prominent black figures, politicians and celebrities covering the outside walls of famed D.C. restaurant Ben’s Chili Bowl in a new mural unveiled Wednesday.

The former first couple’s portrait looms larger than life at the popular restaurant located on U Street in Washington, D.C., and joins images of comedian Dave Chapelle, late musician Prince, rapper Wale, actress Taraji P. Henson, Muhammad Ali, Harriet Tubman and former city mayor Marion Barry, among others.

According to The Washington Post, the mural was commissioned by the city and painted by artist Aniekan Udofia. Udofia painted the building’s previous mural in 2012, which featured now disgraced comedian Bill Cosby.

In the wake of numerous sexual assault allegations against Cosby, there was pressure to paint over his image, said the Post. He is no longer featured in the mural, and those included were chosen through an online poll.

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Initially opened in 1958 by Ben and Virginia Ali, the restaurant later had a prominent role in the 1968 civil rights riots that shook the city following Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, reported the Post. During that time, the restaurant remained open past curfew to feed and provide shelter for those leading the efforts to stop the rioting.

Though the Obamas were not in attendance for the unveiling, Chapelle was, telling those gathered, “I’m honored to be home and that this means an enormous amount to me and my family. I’m very proud of it.”

Other speakers at the unveiling included civil rights activist Dick Gregory – whose likeness is in the mural – and longtime NBC Washington news anchor Jim Vance.


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Michelle Obama Says Barack Wore the Same Tuxedo for Years

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Michelle Obama Recalls Fashion Double Standard at the White House: ‘Barack Wore the Same Tuxedo for Eight Years!’

Before Barack Obama‘s post-presidency leather jacket, there was his tuxedo jacket. And he liked it so much, he wore it all eight years of his presidency.

Former First Lady Michelle Obama revealed this tidbit during an appearance at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference on Tuesday, noting that while the dresses and accessories she wore for state dinners were meticulously photographed and scrutinized, her husband got away with wearing the same outfit year in and year out.

“This is the unfair thing — you talk about Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers — no matter what we do, he puts on that same tux,” she said.

“Now, people take pictures of the shoes I wear, the bracelets, the necklace — they didn’t comment that for eight years he wore the same tux, same shoes.”

“And he was proud of it too,” she continued. “He’s like, ‘Mmm, I’m ready. I’m ready in 10 minutes. How long did it take you?’ I’m like, ‘Get out of here.’ ”

The former first lady also shared the story behind the photo of her adjusting her husband’s bow tie just before they welcomed Chinese President Xi Jinping and wife Peng Liyuan to the White House during a state visit in September 2015.

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While waiting to greet their guests at the North Portico of the White House, the Obamas were photographed by “about 100 press people,” the former first lady recalls.

“So we’re standing there waiting for the cars to roll in … and I was bored,” she admits. “So I sort of thought, let me make sure my husband looks good.”


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Michelle And Barack Obama Are Living Their Best Lives As Tourists In Italy

Michelle Obama’s vacation style just keeps getting better and better. 

The former first lady looked effortlessly casual and cool while walking around Montalcino, Italy over the weekend. 

Obama chose a $ 397 one-shoulder pink-and-white striped top from Teija with frayed white jeans that cut off at the ankle and white sandals. She accessorized with hoop earrings, black sunglasses, bracelets and a white cross-body purse. 

She’s truly living her best life: 

Former president Barack Obama gave a talk on climate change earlier this month and it appears the Obamas made the work trip into a vacation. The two are reportedly staying at the incredible Borgo Finocchieto villa in the Tuscan countryside.

Barack Obama is clearly loving his time in Italy, as he’s transformed into a rock star and played a few rounds of golf:  

After Obama left office in January, the couple has traveled all around the globe. They’ve made stops in Palm Springs, the British Virgin Islands, an island in the South Pacific and even enjoyed a little yachting with their famous friends. 

While many people have lamented the Obamas’ absence during this turbulent time, Michelle promised the two would be back soon during a recent appearance in Washington, D.C. 

“We’re not gone, we’re just breathing, y’all. Let us breathe,” Obama said, per People magazine. “We’ve got to get our new lives set up.” 

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