On Friday Jan. 5, I, along with millions of Americans, bought the already infamous tell-all book on the White House, Fire & Fury written by Michael Wolff. To be honest, the top reason for me buying the book was more so to annoy 45 with the expected high selling numbers than it was to actually read the book in its entirety. To me, as to others I imagine, I found that the most groundbreaking topics and stories in the book happened to be the passages sent out to the media.
I wasn’t disappointed by the book, the on-the-record quotes from top officials of the Trump administration made the stories and words even more compelling. The breaking stories and tweets that at the time the media and most of the world found crazy, were just as crazy for White House staff. It was incredibly interesting and a little more settling to see that the feelings I had when 45 delivered a new tweet, were shared by his closest of staff. Those parts of the book, the insights, the things we would not have known if it were not for the access Michael Wolff was given, made the book a page turner.
Yet, the credibility of Michael Wolff’s journalistic style, has been a cause of concern for those opposed to the book and even while reading it, was in the front of my mind. Wolff has been accused in the past of twisting words in on-the-record quotes and extending his own opinion and bias further than what it may be. In the book as well, readers will come across loads of simple grammatical errors that will question the intensity of the review of the book. He has been compared to a “gossip columnist” rather than a real journalist by his opponents, which shows in the page-turning aspect of his work. Yet through all his controversies, the LA Times stated Wolff’s style perfectly, “all the while making bold claims that, whether embraced or rejected, were impossible to ignore.” No matter the faults that this book and author may have, the reason people gravitate towards this book and 45 tried to stop it, is the unbelievable access given to a journalist from the White House. Whether it’s all true doesn’t matter as long as most of it is, which it seems to be.
There were two things that struck me most from the book. One was the extraordinary access Michael Wolff was given for months in the West Wing, where he had his own office and full access security clearance. No matter the possible inconsistent accounts given in the book or exaggerated quotes, the truth is Wolff should never have been given this kind of access before. It is much more interesting to realize the worst political decision that could be made for this White House is to allow a journalist all the access, it shows the rookie mistake made by the staff whose job it is to protect 45. You have to wonder while reading it how much trust and loyalty the White House staff have for 45. It is quite disturbing and concerning how much infighting is in the White House and how much distaste there is for their boss, the President.
One aspect of the book focuses on the idea that Trump may not have ever wanted to be President. The thought process, Wolff explains, is that Trump thought losing would be better as he wouldn’t have to worry about the intensity of the office and rather escalate his family’s name and fame further across the world. During election night, Wolff exclaims that Trump looked like a ghost when the votes came in. This part of the book was the most interesting insight for me. If this were to be true, this concept that Trump may not have wanted to be President would hurt the Russian investigation, theoretically. As the Russia investigation heats up, with new reports indicating that not only as Mueller interviewed top personnel of the government including Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Director of CIA Mike Pompeo, but that an interview is due to take place between the special prosecutor and Trump, it looks as if the topic of collusion and obstruction of justice is closing in on the President. There’s indication that Trump could be charged, or at least further members of the campaign, transition, administration, and family due to collusion. Yet, if Wolff is so insistent through his reporting that Trump indeed did not want to be President, why would he individually try to collude with Russia? There is more to the investigation behind the scenes that we in the public aren’t aware of, but the book, if it should all be seen as truth, was right on this topic I struggle to understand the complex nature of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
There is a lot in Michael Wolff’s best selling book that we may never know for certain if it is true or not. But one thing is for sure, buying this book will get on the President of the United States’ nerves. Is there a better reason to buy it?
Graphic by Caroline Polich