“Fire and Fury” author Michael Wolff has cast himself as a Beltway outsider, a man who showed up at the White House determined to portray President Trump free of the norms set by the Washington establishment. Strange that such a renegade would care so much about how Beltway types view him.
In an essay/extended whine in the Hollywood Reporter, Wolff writes:
One recent evening, I heard CNN’s Jake Tapper taking aim at my perceived deviations from journalistic form, saying that if the Trump White House was not going to uphold standards, then “we” had to. Who, I wondered, was “we”? That is, what did I have in common, other than the subject of Trump, with Jake Tapper? Tapper is a television news personality who works for a top-down organization ever self-conscious about its complex agendas. I’m a writer who works entirely on my own.
So little appreciation from Wolff for CNN, whose nonstop coverage of “Fire and Fury” in early January turned the book into a national obsession.
And so little appreciation for Maggie Haberman, the New York Times White House reporter who has delivered scoop after scoop about the Trump presidency. Wolffe writes, “‘What is looking like unhinged chaos is actually him in a place of comfort,’ tweeted Maggie Haberman of the Times. Haberman, who likes to assert a stubborn ownership of the Trump story, implies something approximating presidential strategy and point of view.” Wolff knows better, of course. Witness his critique of an article by Michael S. Schmidt and Haberman detailing how Trump in June 2017 had ordered the firing of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, though the president ended up scrapping the plan. The piece set off an uproar of condemnation and confirmation, as other media outlets found the same set of facts. Wolff writes:
Earlier this year, The New York Times broke a story about how, in June, Trump tried to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller. True enough — except that the Times story implied the culmination of a decision-making process and certain calculated intent. In fact, for most of June, Trump, in wounded-beast fashion, demanded every day that Mueller be fired. The difference, not at all fine, is between being in control and out of control, between a plan, however wicked, and a meltdown.
So there: Michael Wolff has the real scoop on Trump and Mueller.
Things get even better as Wolff’s whine continues. “And then there is the money. Donald Trump, for the media, is the golden goose,” writes Wolff, insisting that media outlets will be scrambling once Trump vacates the White House. The Erik Wemple Blog has asked the author whether Trump has served as a golden goose for himself, and how much he has made from “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. “Yes. Quite a bit,” he responded.
Another gripe from Wolff relates to artistry. “Very few people in the Washington journalism bureaucracy are good writers — few would even consider their primary function to be writers, or good writing itself to be a valuable end (that was journalism of a different era). They are researchers, investigators, forensic specialists, data accountants, policy wonks, issue advocates, digital entrepreneurs, ambitious news executives, would-be politicians themselves and media superstars, but they are not writers — language dies in their hands,” writes Wolff.
Okay, let’s just give Wolff what he appears to want. Wolff, you are a belletristic genius; you are a maverick with the courage to defy the norms of the ossified legacy media; you are the best; you know more about White House scoops than the authors of those scoops; you never should have canceled all those stops on your “Fire and Fury” speaking tour because people needed to hear your wisdom; and your account of the Trump White House is far more valuable than the reporting of establishment Beltway press types, with their worthless stories on how Trump derided “shithole” countries, how Trump managed the release of a statement regarding a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting involving Russians, how Trump wears a bathrobe, how Trump’s first health and human services secretary fleeced taxpayers, how Trump’s first EPA administrator is fleecing taxpayers, how Trump’s first national security adviser lied his way out of office, how Trump’s third national security adviser came into office with ethics issues; how Trump’s staff secretary departed after domestic abuse allegations, how Trump has clashed with his lawyers, how Trump’s former communications director admitted to telling “white lies” for the president, how Trump’s now-former VA boss improperly accepted Wimbledon tickets, how Trump is reportedly considering the dismissal of Rod J. Rosenstein. And thousands of others.