The book seems fleetingly sincere as a grief chronicle. Throughout, Manigault Newman invokes her family tragedy—her father was murdered when she was young; her fiancé, the actor Michael Clarke Duncan, died, from a heart attack, in bed, while she was recovering from a miscarriage—as a reason for her surrender to Trump’s flattery. But for Manigault Newman, an ordained minister, to present ego-driven career climbing as a symptom of grief is unpalatable, to say the least. And the flattery does not seem so flattering. When her husband died, in 2012, Trump did not attend the funeral. He sent her a letter that said, “I’m sorry about your loss. I heard Michael was a good guy.”
No one is buying that the hardened reality-show player could not see what was tweeting in front of her. So what is Omarosa really selling? Her product is not simply the alleged tapes but the idea that she may have outmaneuvered Trump. I’ve written before about Manigault Newman’s scrounging embrace of black exceptionalism. Opportunism has never morally burdened her, which makes her self-interest seem both egregious and banal. She has clung to her infamy, in part, by perverting the black worker’s experience of racism. She has always exploited the vantage of the pariah, but has more frequently tried to frame herself as a victim. Even during her post-White House stint on “Celebrity Big Brother,” which she describes in the book as a needed respite, she thought herself persecuted by her housemates, who relentlessly questioned her Trump loyalties. Our infantilization of women in power has, at times, elicited empathy for figures such as Hope Hicks, Melania Trump, and Ivanka Trump. This seems to be what Omarosa seeks. But, for as little as she has gained, and for all she will endure—being called a “lowlife” and a “dog” by the President, most recently—she will never receive it. I wonder why.