Brow Beat

The Obamas Acquire Rights to Book Chronicling the Chaos of the Trump Administration

Barack and Michelle Obama hold hands on stage and wave out at the crowd.
Barack and Michelle Obama wave as they exit the stage during the Obama Foundation Summit in Chicago.
Jim Young/AFP/Getty Images

In an interview with NPR last year Michael Lewis described the scene in the Department of Agriculture the day president Trump took office:

“[The Obama administration’s staff] had parking spots reserved, and they had offices set aside and the briefing books on the table. And they’d arranged Wi-Fi for the computers and passwords for everybody and, you know, badges to get in and out of the buildings. And then days passed, and they finally kind of get word that, well, they’re a little disorganized, and nobody’s coming… And it was actually the better part of two months before anybody shows up who’s going to be - who’s going to represent Trump’s transition to the Department of Agriculture. So they had - they were just left waiting for a long time.”

In his book The Fifth Risk, Lewis outlines the decades of scientific research that are in peril now that the department that conducts research on how we farm, feed ourselves and stop the spread of disease has replaced scientists with political loyalists. The book also details chaotic developments in the Energy and Commerce departments, asking the question: “What are the consequences if the people given control over our government have no idea how it works?”

And now, Barack and Michelle Obama might adapt The Fifth Risk into a Netflix series. It came out in May that the Obamas signed a multi-year deal with the streaming service and are weighing several possible productions. While they haven’t made any announcements confirming a specific venture, they recently acquired the rights to Lewis’ book and it’s a project they’re considering.

Lewis, a financial journalist, is also known for depicting the 2006 housing bubble in his book The Big Short which was adapted into a 2016 Oscar winning film starring Christian Bale, Steve Carrell, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt.