Former President Barack Obama’s production company has bought the rights to the Michael Lewis book “The Fifth Risk,” its first known acquisition since it signed a deal with Netflix in May.
“The Fifth Risk” tracks the messy transition from the Obama administration to the one headed by President Trump, as inexperienced appointees take over important bureaucratic jobs. In particular, the book examines what Lewis says was the bungling of day-to-day operations at the Agriculture, Commerce and Energy departments.
Early in Trump’s tenure as president, Obama stayed mostly on the sidelines and avoided criticizing Trump directly. And the Netflix deal with his production company, Higher Ground, which he runs with Michelle Obama, was not intended to be used for public rebuttals to Trump, according to what the former president told associates at the time. The Netflix deal called for “scripted series, unscripted series, docu-series, documentaries and features,” a news release said.
But with the first announced project being a book critical of Trump, combined with Obama’s recent direct denunciations of Trump on the campaign trail, questions could be raised about whether his company will become a television and film outlet for the former president’s political views.
A spokeswoman for Higher Ground said the “Fifth Risk” project would focus on the civics lessons contained in the book and would not take shots at Trump. It will be a “humorous series demystifying the little-known ways in which federal agencies improve our lives and serve our nation, from the food we eat to the planes we travel on,” the spokeswoman said. Netflix did not respond to a request for comment.
Lewis, the celebrated author of best-sellers including “Moneyball” and “The Big Short,” which both became feature films, did tell Couric in the podcast that Obama shared responsibility for the government’s inefficiency and that he did not do enough to fix the problems outlined in “The Fifth Risk.”
“Trump is symptom, not just cause here,” Lewis said. “We don’t elect someone who is so ignorant and negligent unless we got to the point where we so misvalue and misunderstand the thing he’s running.”