I still haven't bought a copy of Michael Wolff's new tell-all book on the first year of the Trump Regime, Fire & Fury, and I don't plan on it. I'm pretty angry that the anecdotes about Trump in the book clearly show he's unfit for office and that the rest of the Village stenographers covering Trump all seem to think Wolff's profile of Trump as an incurious, clinical narcissist who can't handle the physical, emotional, or intellectual rigors of the job are "common knowledge" and "an open secret". I'm angry that these same journalists didn't have the guts to expose Trump time and again 18 months ago when our Republic might have been spared.
But over at GQ, Drew Magary makes the argument that Wolff is the man who beat Trump at his own game with his book, doing what our fourth estate wouldn't do when it decided to become a fifth column instead.
I’m gonna begin this post with the same disclaimer that needs to come with every post about Michael Wolff, which is that Wolff is a fart-sniffer whose credibility is often suspect and who represents the absolute worst of New York media-cocktail-circuit inbreeding. But in a way, it’s fitting that our least reliable president could finally find himself undone at the hands of one of our least reliable journalists.
All of Wolff’s excerpts from Fire & Fury so far (the book was rushed into stores today) read like jayvee fan fiction. They read like a pilot that Steve Bannon himself wrote, pitched to Hollywood, and had rejected 17 times over. They read, in short, like bullshit. And yet…Wolff has audio. He’s got hours upon hours of audio. Not only that, but the book has already caused legitimate upheaval in the administration, opened a permanent rift between President Trump and Bannon, AND it confirms what we have all always known to be true: that the president severely lacks the cognitive ability to do this job, and that he is surrounded at all times by a cadre of enablers, dunces, and outright thieves. As much as I wanna discredit Wolff, he got receipts and, more important, he used them. Wolff got it all. Wolff nailed them.
And look how he did it. He did it by sleazily ingratiating himself with the White House, gaining access, hosting weird private dinners, and then taking full advantage of the administration's basic lack of knowledge about how reporting works. Some of the officials Wolff got on tape claim to be unaware that they were on the record. Wolff denies this, but he's very much up front in the book's intro about the fact that he was able to exploit the incredible "lack of experience" on display here. In other words, Wolff got his book by playing a bunch of naive dopes.
Thank God for that. Wolff has spent this week thoroughly exploiting Trump and his minions the same way they've exploited the cluelessness of others. And he pulled it off because, at long last, there was a reporter out there willing to toss decorum aside and burn bridges the same way Trump does.
The argument that it took a journalist who trashed the usual presidential coverage norms in order to expose a chief executive who trashed the usual norms is pretty solid, frankly. I'm still not buying Wolff's book. But I understand why people would, and I'm glad he went the regime when our more...credible...journalistic outfits are still playing Access Journalism Bingo.
The Emperor has no brains. Everyone can see that now. Trump is seething on Twitter and will continue to seethe for days, if not weeks. But he's been pantsed on the national stage, by the people he most dearly wants to buy respect from, and they know he's a joke.
Maybe this is where Trump starts to go down along with the ship, I don't know. But at least somebody took action, even if it was a fart-sniffing asshole like Wolff. Trump's exposed now, and the rest of the news outlets finally smell blood in the water, even though it's been red for months.
Here's CNN's Jake Tapper destroying Trump adviser slash neo-Nazi Stephen Miller for ten minutes. It's brutal. Miller gets decimated.
Maybe the Village is learning, or is at least now seeing the benefits of enlightened self-interest. I'll take that.