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Opinion Michael Wolff should just apologize

Writer Michael Wolff in Madrid last week. (J.J. Guillen/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

Christian Fraser, a host with the BBC program “Beyond 100 Days,” has tweeted that Michael Wolff, author of “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” pulled out of a recent interview because of, well, let him explain it:

Contacted via email, Fraser told the Erik Wemple Blog that the explanation actually came from a PR individual who’s representing Wolff in the United Kingdom. “Unfortunately Michael Wolff is having to cancel interview this afternoon. Huge apologies but the tour has taken its toll and he needs to rest today. I hope we can resurrect this in the future,” wrote the PR individual in an email to a contact at the BBC.

According to Fraser, Wolff had appeared on host Andrew Marr’s BBC program ahead of the scheduled interview for “Beyond 100 Days.” In that session, Wolff:

  • Compared himself to Bob Woodward when he was challenged on whether the book was, as Marr put it, an “absolutely brilliant novelistic account or whether this was actually old-fashioned journalism because there are lots of quotation marks around things and I’m never sure whether you were actually there recording or whether you’re putting together pieces that took place after the event.” Wolff: “You’ve read Bob Woodward’s accounts? … There’s no difference here.”
  • Called Tony Blair, who has challenged his depiction in the book, a “complete liar.”
  • Almost copped to alleging that President Trump was having an affair with U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley — which Wolff managed to do on a January edition of HBO’s “Real Time” with Bill Maher, where he said he was “absolutely sure” of a current presidential affair and pointed the audience to a passage toward the end of “Fire and Fury.” People quickly found a passage seeded with suggestive language about Haley and Trump. Said Wolff to Marr, “There is no suggestion in the book of that. There was a suggestion made on a comedy show in the U.S. that I had suggested this. So I can put this to rest: I don’t know who the president is having an affair with. Do I believe the president is having an affair? It’s Donald Trump.” Marr objected that such language represented “innuendo,” not old-fashioned journalism. “Let’s talk innuendo, let’s follow that down,” said Wolff. “Here is a man whose career and life have been about pursuing women.” Then Marr noted that Wolff was merely making assumptions. And the guy who had just compared his work to that of Woodward ended with this defense: “I assume. I assume because this is Donald Trump and I think that’s an absolutely fair assumption,” said Wolff.For the Michael Wolff Scorekeepers out there, here’s a look at three key quotes he has made about Trump and marital fidelity:
    • On Maher’s show, Jan. 19: Wolff says he’s “absolutely sure” of something but couldn’t put it in the book. Asked if it’s an affair, Wolff responds, “It is.”
    • In an interview with theSkimm, Wolff scoffs at Haley’s outraged denial of an affair in a Politico interview: “I would say she seems to have embraced it,” said Wolff, who also said, “The book doesn’t accuse her, I didn’t accuse her. So, in effect, some other reporter accused her.”
    • In a recent interview with a Dutch TV host, Wolff was pressed repeatedly on his rumor-mongering, forcing him into this confession: “I do not know if the president is having an affair.” Wolff reportedly canceled other appointments with Dutch media following the tough-but-fair treatment.

Over the weekend, a sudden and inexplicable technical difficulty overcame Wolff as an Australian TV host was asking him about the Haley innuendo. And now, Wolff tells Marr, “I don’t know who the president is having an affair with.” Which is different from his Dutch-TV dodge: “I do not know if the president is having an affair.”

Wolff is putting nothing to rest. An apology to Trump, Haley and his readers just might.

Opinion writers Jonathan Capehart, Molly Roberts, Dana Milbank and Ruth Marcus discuss the potential fallout from Michael Wolff's book, "Fire and Fury." (Video: The Washington Post)

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