My apologies in advance if this sounds more like something befitting a gossip column than news from the government and politics front, but since it involves James Comey I suppose it’s still relevant. There’s been a bit of barely muted outrage running around punditry circles this weekend over word that Comey either has or soon will have a major, profitable book deal in the works and possibly a movie as well. Listening to the folks at Fox News, there’s no actual ink on a contract yet, but it’s essentially a fait accompli.
Former FBI Director James Comey was reportedly offered $10 million for a book deal this week.
Sandra Smith reported that publishers are lining up to get Comey to share all the details of his relationship with President Trump and his investigation of Hillary Clinton.
The Daily Mail reported that Comey responded to a question during the hearing with an answer that may have foreshadowed the news.
Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) told Comey he was now a “private citizen,” to which the Yonkers, N.Y. native remarked that he is “between opportunities right now.”
Some other outlets were framing the story a bit differently, such as this one from Dennis Michael Lynch, at least implying that the deal was already in hand. Either way, the rumors don’t strain credulity in the least.
Right off the bat I’ll just say that the initial hints which the Daily Mail pointed to aren’t much to go on. Having someone who recently became unemployed say that they are “between opportunities” at the moment doesn’t mean a thing. It’s a common phrase and is equally likely to imply that they are either working on a new gig already or simply hoping that something turns up. But the fact that major publishers are willing to go on record saying that they’ve been authorized to cut a check if the proposal hits their desk should be a strong enough indicator that if Comey wasn’t already thinking of writing a book, he most assuredly is now. (As a side note to those publishers, I’ve got a treatment for a fantastic tell-all about a beagle and a woodchuck which I’ll let go for far less than what Comey’s expected to receive.)
Returning to the initial premise here, it sounds as if some observers are rather upset over the fact that Comey may be in talks for such a deal. Lewandowski all but said that his veracity was in question because he was trying to sell books. Social media has been lighting up over it with plenty of comments along these lines.
The memo never existed and is a hoax created by @JamesComey to jin up interest for upcomming book deal.
— Thomas Jefferson (@patriottj1776) June 10, 2017
I suppose I’ll once again be the annoying old capitalist and express my dismay over people’s attitudes here. As far as I know, nobody has accused Comey of doing anything illegal… at least not with any credibility or solid proof at this point. I point that out because I’m uncomfortable with criminals profiting from their crimes. But short of that… hey guys. This is still America. People have the right to make their fortunes (legally) as they may. James Comey is now out of the FBI and is an unemployed (if not retired) private citizen. Even if he lands another job soon it will almost surely be in the private sector. So who are we to deny the man the opportunity to make a buck?
This goes back to the same argument I made about Barack Obama and his upcoming speaking fees and memoir opportunities. I received a lot of flack in the mail bag over that one,but I stand by my position. Let the man legally earn his money whether or not you liked him, admired him or agreed with his policies. James Comey has a story to sell and if somebody is willing to reward him richly for it, I say he should take the money and strike while the iron is hot.
I have no idea how good of a “product” it will turn out to be, but that’s not really Comey’s problem. Books from prominent political figures rarely turn out to be best sellers. (Just ask Hillary Clinton about that.) But Come will be paid up front and it’s the publisher’s loss if it flops. Also, it’s not as if we’re going to learn anything new in the book, at least in terms of information which could impact the ongoing investigations. James Comey would be foolish indeed if he were holding back some critical facts in evidence so that he could use them in his book. If he did he’d probably lose most of his book advance in legal fees. He’ll no doubt include some juicy sounding “observations” about what he thought about various relationships and events, but there won’t be anything truly new in there.
And… a movie? Seriously? You might think that the disastrous box office numbers for Miss Sloane would give Hollywood some indication as to how many people will show up to buy tickets for a Comeypalooza film in 2020 or later (the soonest they could possibly get one finished). But, yet again, Comey will have already made his money on the rights and can afford to laugh as the film completely tanks.
With all of that said, my original point stands. This is America and we are capitalists at our core. If Comey has a chance to get rich off of his exploits through the offices of some publishers or movie producers, he should do so. I almost certainly won’t buy his book or a ticket to see the film, but I’ll cheer him on for becoming a financial success. God Bless America, baby.