Why Don’t More Journalists Do This?
I am almost halfway through Michael Wolff’s blockbuster book, “Fire & Fury,” and the first thing I will tell you is, it’s not that well-written. Of course, given that he was writing about a White House full of cronies, sycophants and lamebrains, how could he write it so it sounded well-written and literary. I mean, how do you write a literary book about people who have probably never written a literary tome in their lives. I would also add that many of the complaints about Michael Wolff’s past exploits as a journalist are actually somewhat legitimate. He has had credibility problems in the past and he tends to be pretty full of himself much of the time. However, perhaps a narcissist covering a narcissist makes practical sense. Either way, this book is a sterling example of something that journalists used to do, but rarely do anymore, and it is to their shame. He burned bridges and lost access and the result is beautiful.
Let’s just say, Michael Wolff’s stint covering the Trump White House is over. There is no way he will ever gain access to Donny again and he’ll likely never be able to speak to anyone in the Donny Administration. Good for him, because he should be proud of this work. This book is a disrupter, and if an Administration ever needed disruption, it’s the Trump White House. They are getting away with murder and now, they will be less likely to continue. This is the kind of thing ALL journalists covering the White House should be doing. They should be talking to everyone as often as they can and they should be challenging everyone working in the “People’s House” every chance they get. It’s depressing that Sarah Sanders lies daily to the White House press corps, but it’s more depressing that she is almost never called out. You see reporters rolling their eyes and bitching behind the scenes, but they never take on the Trump faithful the way this book does. The fact is, no matter how you feel about Wolff or his journalistic chops, the fact of the matter is, he nailed these bastards like no one else has. Why aren’t more reporters doing the same, and trying to get story after story from a White House that is easily the most incompetent and corrupt in history? Your job isn’t to wait around for Robert Mueller to do his thing; you need to uncover what you can, yourself.
For example, so far, Trump’s travels to his own properties have easily cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, and his kids, who are continuing to serve as executives in the Trump Organization, even as they claim positions as “public servants” in the White House, are using the Treasury as if its their own personal piggy bank. Where are the scads of stories about this phenomenon? For that matter, where are the volumes of stories about the fact that much of the taxpayer money used to transport Trump to his properties and then protect him there goes into Trump Organization coffers and into his and his kids’ pockets? Many reporters spend day after day in the White House; why are they not asking more questions, both on and off the record. How many white supremacists sign in to the White House visitors’ log on a daily basis? How many lobbyists are visiting the White House and walking out with promises of gobs of taxpayer money?
I mean, come on; we all know this kind of shit is happening, so where are the journalists whose job it is to give us the details about this? This is, after all, a journalist’s job. The journalist is supposed to confirm what is going on in government and then uncover the details. Wolff managed to do this by being an asshole and getting incompetent, ignorant and inexperienced morons to spill the beans about what was going on in the most incompetent White House in history. In other words, whether you like him or hate him — and there are many reasons to hate him — Wolff got the story and gave it to us in morbid detail. In a way, he actually beat Trump at his own game. Trump got “elected” by appealing to the worst in humanity and promising them things he will never be able to deliver, and Wolff for the story by speaking to people who didn’t understand they were on the record, or who were too naive to know why he was there. If Michael Wolff can do this shit, other journalists can, too. Imagine if 20–30 journalists were doing the same as he was? This regime would have been blown out of the water already, without having to wait for Mueller.
I don’t understand why more journalists won’t do this sort of thing. Wolff didn’t bullshit the Trump Administration to gain access to them; he simply exploited their naïveté to get whatever story there was. And now, thanks to this book, we have verified proof that the current White House is pure chaos and there is no actual leader in there. We have proof that Trump, as he has all his life, has surrounded himself with sycophants, without regard to being qualified for the position they’re in. We have proof that Trump is not prepared for the job. He didn’t want to win in the first place and he doesn’t want to actually BE “president” at all. More distressing is that we also have proof that Trump has no interest in learning the job and that he still really doesn’t understand what the job entails. We now have proof that the man with access to the nuclear codes is incompetent to even understand his status as the most powerful PUBLIC SERVANT in the world.
There are more than a few impeachable offenses in this book. Keep in mind, the “president” and Vice President can be impeached for almost anything; the term, “high crimes and misdemeanors” is virtually all-encompassing. Pillaging the Treasury for personal gain and violating the Emoluments Clause are indeed high crimes, but being incompetent is also certainly a “misdemeanor,” as is threatening to start a nuclear war on Twitter. And Wolff claims he has everything “on tape,” as it were. Now, others are calling on him to release the recordings, but I say, the fact that they exist is good enough. I don’t care how much the assholes in the White House claim “Fake News” because they are proven liars and prevaricators themselves. Besides; they have inadvertently proven that everything in the book is right through their lack of denials and expressions of regret. It will be more fun watching them deny what they said and later being proven wrong than to pre-emptively head them off. It will be more fun to watch them all contradict each other as they claim what they said is inaccurate and then pulling out the audio of what was actually said, after the fact. THAT is how journalism works. You tell the truth, knowing you can verify it and you let everyone else fight over it.
Like him or hate him, Michael Wolff committed some serious journalism with this book, and I sincerely wish more journalists would risk their access and even their reputations by asking tough, even impertinent, questions. Forget being “nice” and “respecting the office.” Reporters are supposed to be ruthless assholes; being nice and accommodating is not your job; it’s not how you get the real story. Besides, why would you “respect the office,” when Trump doesn’t? Your job as a reporter is to go in, guns blazing, and demand the truth. If Lord Donny throws your ass out of the White House, you’ll be replaced. In fact, you’ll know the legitimate journalistic outlets by the number of reporters who get thrown out of the White House.
If you are a journalist and you hear something as you travel around the White House, it is your job to find out every detail you can. If you hear that Donny watches TV 8–10 hours a day and screams at everyone, get that story, even if you have to fool an aide into giving it to you. You are NOT there to attend press conferences and take whatever bullshit they are willing to feed you at face value. You are NOT supposed to listen to what Sarah Sanders tells you and report that, verbatim. If what she says is bullshit — and most of it is — your job is to explain why it’s bullshit.
As a journalist, you are there to find out what is going on inside that building and beyond. Michael Wolff got the story — he got a ton of stories — and there is no reason why you can’t continue to uncover this Administration for the incompetent fuckwits we know they are. We depend on you journalists for the truth; go get it. If you lose access and they kick you out, well, that’s a story, too. Go for it.
Originally published at PCTC Blog.