Jodi Kantor

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Jodi Kantor
Jodi Kantor (Photo by Juliana Sohn).jpg
Born (1975-04-21) April 21, 1975 (age 40)
Alma mater Columbia University
Occupation Journalist
Organization The New York Times
Notable credit(s) The Obamas
Spouse(s) Ron Lieber

Jodi Kantor (born April 21, 1975) is a New York Times correspondent and author of the best-selling book The Obamas,[1] published by Little, Brown and Company in January 2012. She has been writing about Barack and Michelle Obama, along with numerous other political figures, since 2007. Kantor has appeared widely on television, with shows including Charlie Rose, The Daily Show, The Today Show, and Hardball with Chris Matthews.

Education and early career[edit]

After growing up in New York City, Kantor moved to Holmdel Township, New Jersey where she graduated from Holmdel High School.[2] Kantor graduated magna cum laude from Columbia University in 1996. She was selected for and participated in the prestigious Dorot Fellowship in Israel from 1996-97[3] and later served as a New York City Urban Fellow.[4] Later, she attended Harvard Law School for one semester, taking a leave to work at Slate, where she became an editor.

The New York Times[edit]

After corresponding with New York Times columnist Frank Rich about how that paper could improve its arts coverage, she was brought on as editor of the Arts and Leisure section by Howell Raines. She is thought to be the youngest person to edit a section of the New York Times.[5] Under the guidance of Rich and others, she made the section more visual, added new features and more ambitious reporting. In 2007, Kantor turned to covering politics for the Times, including the 2008 presidential campaign and Barack Obama's biography. Starting in 2007, she wrote some of the earliest articles about Michelle Obama, the role of the Obama daughters in their father's career, the role of basketball in the president's life, his relationship with Rev. Jeremiah Wright[6] and his career as a constitutional law professor. After she broke the news of initial strain between Obama and Reverend Wright, he posted an angry letter to Kantor on his church's website. Her editors subsequently defended her.[7] In autumn of 2009, she co-authored the story of Michelle Obama's slave roots[8] and authored a cover story in the New York Times Magazine about the first marriage, for which she interviewed the president and first lady in the Oval Office.[9] In November 2009, Kantor landed a reported seven-figure book deal to write a book about the president and first lady.[10]

The Obamas[edit]

Kantor's book, The Obamas, published in 2012, chronicled the first couple's adjustment to the new world of the White House, revealing Michelle Obama's initial struggle and eventual turnaround in her role. Shortly after the book's publication, Michelle Obama said in a television interview that she was tired of being portrayed as an "angry black woman." However, she also stated that she had not read Kantor's book, and a diverse array of figures, including David Brooks, Jon Stewart,[11] Farai Chideya,[12] and Glenn Loury[13] responded by calling Kantor's portrayal of Michelle Obama well-rounded and respectful. White House officials initially distanced themselves from the book, but then reversed their tack after journalists called the book "deeply reported and nuanced" and "largely sympathetic."[14]

In The New York Times, Connie Schultz, a Pulitzer-prize-winning columnist married to U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, praised The Obamas.[15] "A meticulous reporter, Ms. Kantor is attuned to the nuance of small gestures, the import of unspoken truths," Schultz wrote. "She knows that every strong marriage, including the one now in the White House, has its complexities and its disappointments. Ms. Kantor also — and this is a key — has a high regard for women, which is why hers is the first book about the Obama presidency to give Michelle Obama her due. In the process we learn a great deal about the talented and introverted loner who married her, and how his wife has influenced him as a president." Other reviewers called the book "insightful and evocative, rich with detail"[16] and "an honest portrayal of people who are put under unprecedented scrutiny with unusual rapidity."[17] Ezra Klein, of The Washington Post, called The Obamas "among the very best books on this White House" and "a serious, thoughtful book on the modern presidency."[18]


In her work on politics and other areas, Kantor has frequently returned to gender as a theme. Her story on the class gap in breastfeeding [19] inspired the first free-standing lactation station.[20] In 2009, when she interviewed the Obamas in the White House, she asked them [21] “How can you have an equal marriage when one person is President?”

More recently, she has reported on the treatment of women on Wall Street and in the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). Her story on Harvard Business School's attempts to improve its treatment of women inspired a national discussion of gender at business schools (as well as class and money issues.) After it was published, Nitin Nohria, the dean, apologized to all female alumni for the negative experiences many of them had at Harvard and pledged to boost the number of case studies with female protagonists. In August 2014, Kantor's article "Working Anything but 9 to 5," about a Starbucks barista and single mother struggling to keep up with a work schedule set by automated software, spurred the coffee chain to revise scheduling policies for 130,000 workers across the United States.


Kantor was selected by Crain's Magazine as one of "Forty Under Forty" promising New Yorkers and was awarded a Columbia Young Alumni Achievement Award and the 2012 Feminist Press Award for Insight.[22]

Personal life[edit]

Kantor is married to Ron Lieber, "Your Money" columnist for The Times. They live in Brooklyn.[23]


  1. ^ The Obamas
  2. ^ Rubin, Debra. "Obama marriage to be spotlight of fund-raiser", New Jersey Jewish News, April 26, 2010. Accessed January 10, 2012. "Kantor grew up in Queens, Staten Island, and Holmdel and graduated from Holmdel High School."
  3. ^ "Dorot Fellows". Dorot Foundation. Retrieved 2012-10-10. 
  4. ^ Times Appoints Two as Editors in Culture News The New York Times. January 23, 2003. Retrieved January 14, 2012
  5. ^ Tonti, Alexis (Summer 2012). "Jodi Kantor ’96 Offers Revealing Portrait of the First Couple". Columbia College Today. Retrieved 2012-10-10. 
  6. ^ Kantor, Jodi (2007-04-30). "A Candidate, His Minister and the Search for Faith". The New York Times. 
  7. ^ [1][dead link]
  8. ^ Swarns, Rachel L.; Kantor, Jodi (2009-10-08). "In First Lady's Roots, a Complex Path From Slavery". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-06. 
  9. ^ Kantor, Jodi (2009-11-01). "The Obamas' Marriage". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-06. 
  10. ^ Neyfakh, Leon (November 18, 2009). "Go Jodi Go! Times’ Kantor Scores Seven Figures From Little, Brown For Obama Book". New York Observer. Retrieved 2012-10-10. 
  11. ^ [2][dead link]
  12. ^ Chideya, Farai (January 12, 2012). "Opinion: For Michelle Obama, what's wrong with strong?". CNN: In America. 
  13. ^ "John McWhorter (The Root, What Language Is) and Glenn Loury (Brown University)". 2012-01-24. Retrieved 2012-10-10. 
  14. ^ Smith, Ben (February 2, 2012). "'The Obamas': How not to kill a book". Politico. 
  15. ^ Schultz, Connie (January 8, 2012). "Partners in Love and the Presidency". The New York Times. 
  16. ^ Luft, Kerry (January 9, 2012). "'The Obamas' a portrait of their evolution inside the White House". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2012-10-10. 
  17. ^ Hogue, Ilyse (January 11, 2012). "Why the Obamas Should Embrace 'The Obamas'". The Nation. Retrieved 2012-10-10. 
  18. ^ ""Chick nonfiction"?". Wonklife. February 19, 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-10. 
  19. ^ [3]
  20. ^ [4]
  21. ^ [5]
  22. ^ "Times topics - Jodi Kantor". New York Times. Retrieved January 8, 2012. 
  23. ^ "Jodi Kantor". Kantor website. Retrieved January 8, 2012. 

External links[edit]