The noted American Urban Radio Networks White House Correspondent and CNN analyst focuses on her experiences as a black woman reporter trying to do her job amid the hostile first year of the Trump presidency.
Before Trump entered office, Ryan (At Mama's Knee: Mothers and Race in Black and White, 2016, etc.) covered Republican and Democratic administrations without achieving widespread recognition, reporting mostly for AURN since the late 1990s. Her recognition factor shot up significantly in 2017 due to the combative rhetoric aimed at the author by Trump, his White House press secretaries, and White House staffers, most notably Omarosa Manigault-Newman. After Ryan asked Trump openly about his racism, she became a hero to many citizens (in 2017, she was named Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalist) and a pariah to others (she has received many death threats from Trump supporters). Regarding her seemingly overnight fame, the author notes that she has conducted herself in the same journalistic manner for two decades but that in an era of “fake news” and “alternative facts,” ideologues think of her as somehow biased against Trump and Republicans. The writing is mostly clear but is slowed by clichéd language—e.g., “throw in the towel.” Each chapter is worthy on its own, yet they are arranged in a puzzling manner. A chapter about health care policy precedes a chapter about Ryan unwillingly becoming the story instead of staying out of the spotlight, and policy-heavy chapters about immigration policy, indifference to historically black colleges, and women in the workplace materialize out of nowhere. Throughout the book, the author clarifies her viewpoint (shared by many) that she respects the office of the presidency but finds Trump and many of his staff members incompetent at best and often mean in petty ways.
The narrative is filled with gems if readers are willing to struggle through the disorganization.