In any normal political age, the recent book by Michael Wolff about the Trump White House would not create a “firestorm.” It would simply be laughed off as fictional trash you would find in the discount section of a dollar store.
But since many in the establishment media have now demonstrated afresh that they are willing to blindly gobble up whatever anti-Trump crumbs are fed to them and present this fiction to the American people as serious journalism, any semblance of normalcy has long since been discarded. So let us address the most ridiculous of the tidal wave of falsehoods presented by Mr. Wolff.
Let’s forget for a moment the multiple quotations in Fire and Fury (and Wolff’s previous books) that have been specifically disavowed by the people who supposedly said them. Forget the rank speculation that leads to so many of the book’s assertions. Forget even the reckless disregard for the truth of the sensationalist author, and his obvious (yet successful) attempt to lure in those afflicted with TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome) with detritus that would make The National Enquirer blush in order to achieve the daily double of feeding his own hatred for the President and lining his own pockets.
Instead, let’s focus on the single most spectacular claim that the author made in the book and then repeated for emphasis on NBC’s Today Show: that “100 percent of the people around” President Trump question his intelligence and fitness for office.
We start with the mind-blowing prologue written by the author:
“Many of the accounts of what has happened in the Trump White House are in conflict with one another; many, in Trumpian fashion, are baldly untrue. These conflicts, and that looseness with the truth, if not with reality itself, are an elemental thread of the book.
“Sometimes I have let the players offer their versions, in turn allowing the reader to judge them. In other instances I have, through a consistency in the accounts and through sources I have come to trust, settled on a version of events I believe to be true.”
This is hard to believe. The author admits that many of the accounts he presents in the book are “baldly untrue,” and yet he writes them anyway. Taking this rationale to its logical conclusion, any writer could simply assert that the sky is falling because someone told him so, and leave it to the readers to figure out if it’s true. This is what now passes for “journalism.”
So, is it even possible that every single one of the people “around Trump,” which by the way includes his own family, according to Wolff, think him unfit to be president? Reducing this to a most basic level, even if you’re gullible enough to believe the 100% claim, do you actually think Melania and the Trump children, not to mention the likes of General John Kelly, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis, would say that to a notorious yellow journalist like Mr. Wolff? It is beyond laughable. And yet, Wolff goes on TV and doubles down on what he wrote in the book. When questioned by NBC’s Savannah Guthrie about the claim, Wolff responded with, “Let me put a marker in the sand here: 100% of the people around him.”
While Wolff is laughing all the way to the bank, Stephanie Ruhle said on MSNBC that “Even if not all of it is true, the spirit of the book is.” And CNN “senior media correspondent” Brian Stelter, for one, served his usual role of a useful idiot by applying the lowest possible standard of truth, saying the book “rings true.” Is this what “journalism” has become: if it feels good and feeds into your naked hatred of someone or something, then go ahead and treat it as news, and do so breathlessly on national TV?
Even Stelter’s Trump-hating colleague Jake Tapper responded with “ringing true is not a journalistic standard.” And just to punctuate the point about the cartoonish Mr. Stelter, even Maggie Haberman of the notoriously anti-Trump New York Times, a reporter with consistent access to the Trump White House, said “several” things in the book are untrue and euphemistically called the book “light in fact-checking and copy-editing.”
On Fox News, resident liberal and Trump-hater Shepard Smith spent much of his hour-long show Friday hyping the 100% claim. He was flummoxed when Chris Wallace, definitive establishment journalist, said he had spoken with many members of the Trump administration – on and off the record – and had never once heard any of them say anything resembling what Wolff is claiming.
So what is a President to do? Well, for starters, condemn the book’s prime messenger, Steve Bannon, and employ the well-worn L-word for the author:
Michael Wolff is a total loser who made up stories in order to sell this really boring and untruthful book. He used Sloppy Steve Bannon, who cried when he got fired and begged for his job. Now Sloppy Steve has been dumped like a dog by almost everyone. Too bad! https://t.co/mEeUhk5ZV9
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 6, 2018
“Michael Wolff is a total loser who made up stories in order to sell this really boring and untruthful book. He used Sloppy Steve Bannon, who cried when he got fired and begged for his job. Now Sloppy Steve has been dumped like a dog by almost everyone. Too bad!”
In a normal age, the President would likely have just let all this roll off his back. But this book proves just how abnormal a time this is. It should not be necessary for President Trump to even acknowledge this false and lurid hit piece,
It should likewise be totally unnecessary for the president to sue Mr. Wolff for libel. But in considering how you might respond to similar allegations about you that get repeated to millions of people, could you blame him if he does?
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