Media Is Cool With Fake but Accurate 'Fire and Fury'

January 9, 2018

Broad swaths of the media and critics of President Donald Trump are embracing Michael Wolff's new book, even in the face of the book's readily apparent errors.

Fire and Fury: Inside Trump's White House, Wolff's account of the inner goings-on at Trump's White House, blew up Washington last week with its depiction of the president as an in-over-his-head man-child whose top aides all consider him dangerously unfit for office.

However, the book has been hit for numerous inaccuracies, such as claiming senior policy adviser Stephen Miller "knew little" about policy or Trump didn't know who John Boehner was; complaints of misquoting, hazy sourcing, and typos; as well as its strong reliance on ex-White House strategist Steve Bannon as a source.

Wolff himself wrote in the foreword that he "settled on a version of events I believed to be true," pointing to the fact his sources sometimes conflicted within what he described as a uniquely deceitful administration. The New York Times review of the book called it "liberal catnip."

Yet, often dismissing the errors in the work, figures across the media have said the book "rings true" with what they already know, or that it comes close to telling the story of the Trump administration.

"Here's the thing about the book," MSNBC host Katy Tur said. "I read it. A lot of the stuff did read as—did feel true."

She added the book was "compelling," and there's "a lot of it that reads true, that feels true."

"Some of it may be hyperbole or exaggeration, but the overall portrait rings true to an awful lot of people," historian Douglas Brinkley said on CNN.

"There's disappointment about the errors that are in the text, but the book itself does hold up," CNN media correspondent Brian Stelter said.

"The lack of fact-checking, the inaccuracies, do call into question the integrity of this whole project, and I think that's a shame, because in general, he gets the picture right," Trump biographer Michael D'Antonio said.

"It does ring true to a lot of people who've reported closely on this White House, including me," author John Heilemann said.

"Morning Joe" co-host Mika Brzezinski said of one anecdote in the story that was inaccurate: "The spirit of it was completely true."

Fellow "Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough brushed off what he called insignificant errors, cautioning, "It's not a front-page story for the New York Times or the Washington Post. It's a much bigger picture."

"Criticism of Michael's book, though, is that he doesn't get everything exactly right. That's what happens when you interview 1,000 different people, and everybody comes from their own version," Scarborough said while Wolff sat next to him.

"As entertaining as it is, I don't know how much of this book is accurate and how much is exaggerated, but in a way, that's what makes it a perfect scandal for this White House," "Daily Show" host Trevor Noah said.

While interviewing Wolff Monday night, CBS late-night host Stephen Colbert acknowledged he was "deeply conflicted" when he read the book, saying he enjoyed it as a comedian and would love for it all to be true, but he didn't want to believe it as a citizen.

"You should believe all of it," Wolff said. "That's the alarming thing, that this is all true."

Wolff's most eyebrow-raising remark about the book came in his interview with Tur where he told her, "Read the book. If it makes sense to you, if it rings true, it is true."