The new book Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff is the talk of the political world. I love gossip. This feels like gossip and not news. Take the exchange between Roger Ailes and Steve Bannon in this article. Wolff writes dialogue and assigns emotion to the characters. How can he know the emotions of the two men when they were the only ones in the room, and one is dead? That leaves Bannon as the only source. This is dubious considering Steve Bannon is a less than honest broker. Ben Shapiro worked for Bannon and makes the case that he’s a complete fraud. Today Michael Wolff admitted, “I certainly said what was ever necessary to get the story.”
As the Washington Post said, “Wolff’s admission does not directly undermine the veracity of his reporting, but it creates the appearance that he might have approached some members of the president’s team under false pretenses, leading sources to believe that when they opened up they were speaking to a sympathetic ear. That’s a bad look — one which the White House can use to impugn Wolff’s integrity and, perhaps unfairly, cast doubt on whichever elements of his work the president doesn’t like.”
Trump is bizarre, and we have to be careful not to believe anything about him because it could be true. Twitter user PixelatedBoat made up a story about Trump in this new book as a parody, and everyone is so desperate to make fun of Trump that they bought it and he had to change his username. I believed it at first.
We have to be careful not to give up the truth when it is information about someone we find morally or politically grotesque. It is very easy to sell believable gossip so the incentive is higher to fabricate stories. Is Michael Wolff’s book as bad as an Edward Klein book? I don’t know, but I will be reading it with a very critical eye. No matter what, it cannot be less credible than Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan.