Investigative reporter David Cay Johnston joins Chris Riback to discuss President Trump’s first year in office and explain why It’s Even Worse Than You Think.
Washington Post: “The White House — and the politerati diaspora — has just barely stopped reeling from author Michael Wolff’s account of life in Trump’s West Wing, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, and now another life-in-the-White-House book is about to drop, this one from Kurtz.”
“Like the books that came before it, and almost certainly like the ones still to come, Kurtz’s book, Media Madness: Donald Trump, The Press, And The War Over The Truth, offers a portrait of a White House riven by chaos, with aides scrambling to respond to the president’s impulses and writing policy to fit his tweets.”
Bloomberg: “Author Michael Wolff’s pitch to the White House to win cooperation for his book included a working title that signaled a sympathetic view, a counter-narrative to a slew of negative news stories early in Donald Trump’s presidency. He called it The Great Transition: The First 100 Days of the Trump Administration. And in part due to that title, Wolff was able to exploit an inexperienced White House staff who mistakenly believed they could shape the book to the president’s liking.”
“Nearly everyone who spoke with Wolff thought someone else in the White House had approved their participation. And it appears that not a single person in a position of authority to halt cooperation with the book — including Trump himself — raised any red flags, despite Wolff’s well documented history.”
Bret Stephens: “Guess what? Donald Trump is a raving idiot. Every sentient person knows this, and if Michael Wolff is to be believed, so does most everyone in the White House. So why are we talking about Wolff’s book Fire and Fury as if it’s the news sensation of the decade?”
“The answer lies in that timeless definition of the word ‘gossip’: Hearing something you like about someone you don’t. Fire and Fury is catnip for everyone who detests this president… But gossip isn’t journalism. And Wolff’s book is Exhibit A in how not to damage Trump’s presidency, much less his chances of re-election.”
“The net result is that Fire and Fury has so thoroughly succeeded in lowering public expectations for Trump that it makes it that much easier for him to exceed them.”
The Wall Street Journal reports Wolff sold one million copies of his book in four days.
New York Post: “Confused readers are buying a military book in droves all because it has a title similar to Michael Wolff’s bombshell Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, according to a new report.”
Said Randall Hanson, the author of Fire and Fury: The Allied Bombing of Germany, 1942-1945: “It amused me and part of me thought, can people really be that dumb to be confusing these books?”
“The Canadian political science professor at the University of Toronto never imagined his book — exploring civilian perspectives on the Allied bombing of Germany during WWII — would make it to Amazon’s bestseller list ten years after he wrote it.”
Out next week: How Democracies Die by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt.
“Democracy no longer ends with a bang—in a revolution or military coup—but with a whimper: the slow, steady weakening of critical institutions, such as the judiciary and the press, and the gradual erosion of long-standing political norms. The good news is that there are several exit ramps on the road to authoritarianism. The bad news is that, by electing Trump, we have already passed the first one.”
Former Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka wrote in The Hill that he was instructed to cooperate with Fire and Fury author Michael Wolff while working at the White House, but ultimately declined because he had a “gut feeling” the book would be biased against Trump.
Although Gorka did not say who told him to cooperate, Wolff has said that multiple high-level White House officials – including Steve Bannon, Sean Spicer and Kellyanne Conway – helped him get interviews.
“Fire and Fury, the controversial Trump White House tell-all by Michael Wolff, may very well be the first book to achieve best-seller status by virtue of viral Twitter screenshot,” BuzzFeed News reports.
“More than that, Fire and Fury is, in many ways, the first real book of the post-truth hyperpartisan social media era: an incendiary piece of factually debatable content that’s perfectly engineered for virality and, depending on your side, a confirmation of every politically motivated suspicion.”