Alumni Newsletter

How DO alumnus Michael Kranish and The Washington Post took a new approach to the presidential candidate biography with ‘Trump Revealed’

Ally Moreo | Photo Editor

Michael Kranish ('79) "just wanted to write and report stories" while working at The D.O. Four decades later, he's still at it — now at The Washington Post.

As President Donald Trump won state after state in the Republican presidential primaries, editors and reporters at The Washington Post threw around the idea of a biography on the polarizing figure who was changing politics.

It was natural editors would ask Michael Kranish (‘79), an investigative political reporter, to contribute. After all, when the Post hired Kranish in January 2016, they did so with his experience writing biographies about presidential candidates in mind.

From those early discussions came “Trump Revealed,” a biography examining Trump’s life and career. An extensive team of Post reporters, editors and researchers collaborated to produce the book, which was co-authored by Kranish and Marc Fisher. It was published on Aug. 23, 2016.

The book was the latest milestone for Kranish in a career that includes stops at the Miami Herald; The Boston Globe, where he wrote biographies on presidential candidates in 2004 and 2012; and, of course, The Daily Orange.

While at The D.O., Kranish wasn’t interested in the managerial aspects of newspapers, preferring instead to focus on producing enterprise and investigative stories.

“I just wanted to write and report stories,” he said.

After graduating Syracuse University, Kranish spent a few years as a reporter in Florida, first at The (Lakeland) Ledger and later at the Herald. In 1984 he moved to the Globe, where he got his start writing biographies on notable United States politicians, something that would become a trend throughout his career.

michael-kranish-courtesy-of-the-author

Courtesy of Michael Kranish

In 2004, Kranish co-authored “John F. Kerry: The Boston Globe Biography,” about the former Secretary of State, 2004 Democratic presidential nominee and Massachusetts resident. In 2012, he co-authored “The Real Romney,” a biography on 2012 Republican presidential nominee and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

But the process behind “Trump Revealed” was different than either of Kranish’s previous books. The size of the team was much larger, with more than 20 staffers working on the project. And the Post didn’t wait until the project was done — it published stories that stemmed from the reporting as the book was taking shape.

“That was very important to make this project work,” Kranish said. “We didn’t hold things back. When the book was published there was a lot more in the book than had ever been published in the paper, but there were 30 or so stories that were published based on the research.”

As one of two writers and many reporters on the project, Kranish described his role as that of a “player-manager.” He wrote about half the chapters and did as much reporting as he could, including some on a racial discrimination case brought by the government against Trump’s company.

Ultimately, Kranish hopes readers will use the book to reflect on Trump’s history and to consider how Trump will make decisions and handle crises as president.

“From my perspective, I just have a longstanding belief that you really need to understand very well how a candidate has been formed,” Kranish said. “You can only guess what they might do in office, but you can very clearly show how they’ve dealt with situations in the past.

“This gives you the whole flavor of the person’s life, which is to me a great way to show who that person is in a very rounded and shaped way.”

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