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Behind the White House Curtain

A Senior Journalist’s Story of Covering the President—and Why It Matters

Forthcoming, Journalism, Political Science & Politics

Foreword by Scott McClellan

DescriptionGoing behind the scenes with a veteran member of the White House press corps

Steven L Herman, chief national correspondent for the nonpartisan, government-funded Voice of America (VOA), weaves together memoir and history to pull back the curtain on the inner workings of the White House press corps, giving readers a rare glimpse into the historic and current relationship between the president and the press.

Herman traces the trajectory of his career as a journalist—from learning to be skeptical of government officials’ statements when he worked as a novice reporter covering nuclear testing in Nevada in the 1970s to understanding the power of on-the-ground social media coverage after the Fukushima disaster in 2011 and facing the challenges of covering the Trump administration. He reflects on the experience of reporting on a president who once called journalists “enemies of the people”—and indeed, former president Trump singled out VOA, accusing the organization of being not a voice of America but rather a voice supporting Moscow’s and Beijing’s interests. Under questionable circumstances, top VOA executives lost their security clearances, and a dossier was prepared on Herman in an effort to remove him as White House bureau chief. With journalistic independence under threat, Herman feared not only for his career but also for “the soul of Voice of America.”

Throughout Behind the White House Curtain, Herman convincingly argues that public access to accurate, unbiased information is essential to a healthy and peaceful democracy, and that journalists can and should play a key role in pressing government officials to be truthful and transparent. At a time when misinformation is rampant and the need for unbiased coverage of current events is more urgent than ever, Herman reminds readers that freedom of the press is a foundational American right.

Author Steven L Herman is the chief national correspondent of the Voice of America (VOA), an adjunct assistant professor at Shenandoah University, and an adjunct lecturer in the journalism department of the University of Richmond. He covered the White House for VOA during the Trump administration and the first eight months of the Biden administration. He has traveled to more than 75 countries and territories, including reporting assignments in Afghanistan, Argentina, Bhutan, Burma, China, the Gaza Strip, North Korea, Peru, and Vietnam. 

Read this interview of Steve Herman


“Steve Herman is a dedicated journalist who understands the stakes when it comes to defending the truth at a time when the facts are under assault by powerful forces. This behind-the-scenes account is not just another Trump book. It’s an important reminder of why we need journalists like Steve on the front lines reporting the truth.”—Jim Acosta, anchor and chief domestic correspondent for CNN

“Steve Herman has been one of VOA’s best journalists and a true leader in public diplomacy journalism. This memoir only begins to do justice to Steve’s extensive career reporting the news without fear or favor. It also touches on his devotion to the US Foreign Service through his membership of the governing board of the American Foreign Service Association, which includes VOA’s overseas correspondents and engineers. Steve’s work at the White House has been recognized as a true model for deadline journalism that is devoted to informing listeners and readers of the most important developments of the day. His book is important and a great read.”—Ambassador (Ret.) Eric S. Rubin, former US Ambassador to Bulgaria and president of the American Foreign Service Association