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Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s Allegedly Nonfiction Memoir Should Be Fact-Checked

The infamously truth-challenged former White House press secretary's book is dropping in 2020.

by Harry Cheadle
Sep 5 2019, 7:06pm

Sarah Huckabee Sanders in April. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Don't worry, Sarah Hucakbee Sanders is doing just fine.

On Thursday, the former White House press secretary became the latest former Trump official to get rewarded with a book deal. St. Martin's Press announced it would be putting out her memoir, which according to a statement from Sanders will "tell my story about the challenges of being a working mom at the highest level of American politics, and my role in the historic fight raging between the Trump administration and its critics for the future of our country."

OK. But is anyone going to check whether that story is actually true?

Publishers, even prestigious ones, often do not generally fact-check their books, though some authors pay for fact-checkers out of their own pockets. Traditionally, memoirs are also held to looser standards, in terms of facts, than works of journalism, since memory is often a subjective thing and a writer is often trying to communicate their experiences and feelings rather than the driest, most mundane version of truth. Still, some memoirists, most notoriously James Frey, have gotten in trouble for writing books that are more fiction than fact.

Sanders should probably be watched more closely than just about every other memoirist in the game. Her job for Donald Trump amounted to issuing statements and answers to journalists that sometimes turned out to be outright lies, or easily debunked falsehoods. Her predecessor in the role, Sean Spicer, wrote a memoir that not only doubled down on some of the untruths he told from the White House podium but contained other embarrassing errors and omissions. Working for Trump evidently requires a certain ability to say—and maybe even believe—things that aren't true. Writing a book about your life, on the other hand, requires that you know what actually happened in the real world.

VICE has reached out to St Martin's to find out whether the publisher had any plans to fact-check Sanders's memoir before it is released, but did not immediately receive a response. Given that Sanders may use her book to help launch a campaign for Arkansas governor (a position her father once held), making sure that book isn't jam-packed with the kinds of fibs she's famous for seems fairly important.

On the other hand, former Trump officials have not exactly been punished for their involvement in spreading disinformation or outright lies. Spicer's book was widely panned, he has failed to shed his reputation as a liar, and yet now he's a contestant on the upcoming season of Dancing with the Stars.

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