Someone watches too many movies

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on September 15, 2008

If your only glimpse into journalism was the Drew Barrymore movie "Never Been Kissed," then you'd probably buy Barack Obama's resume inflation exercise. In the movie, Barrymore's character is a copy editor with her own office and an assistant. In real life, copy editors don't.

Likewise, Sen. Barack Obama tried to make his work as a copy editor seem more glamorous so he could be seen as being more noble to quit that job to become a community organizer.

From one of Obama's co-workers at that job and a self-described "big fan" of Obama.

Here’s Barack’s account:

Eventually a consulting house to multinational corporations agreed to hire me as a research assistant. Like a spy behind enemy lines, I arrived every day at my mid-Manhattan office and sat at my computer terminal, checking the Reuters machine that blinked bright emerald messages from across the globe. As far as I could tell I was the only black man in the company, a source of shame for me but a source of considerable pride for the company’s secretarial pool.

First, it wasn’t a consulting house; it was a small company that published newsletters on international business. Like most newsletter publishers, it was a bit of a sweatshop. I’m sure we all wished that we were high-priced consultants to multinational corporations. But we also enjoyed coming in at ten, wearing jeans to work, flirting with our co-workers, partying when we stayed late, and bonding over the low salaries and heavy workload.

Barack worked on one of the company’s reference publications. Each month customers got a new set of pages on business conditions in a particular country, punched to fit into a three-ring binder. Barack’s job was to get copy from the country correspondents and edit it so that it fit into a standard outline. There was probably some research involved as well, since correspondents usually don’t send exactly what you ask for, and you can’t always decipher their copy. But essentially the job was copyediting.


If Barack was promoted, his new job responsibilities were more of the same - rewriting other people’s copy. As far as I know, he always had a small office, and the idea that he had a secretary is laughable. Only the company president had a secretary. Barack never left the office, never wore a tie, and had neither reason nor opportunity to interview Japanese financiers or German bond traders.

I encourage you to read the whole thing. And for those of you who think Obama's just a little arrogant -- you'll learn that at least one of his former co-workers thought that too.


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September 2008



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