In the final dash to Election Day, Trump needed a Lee Atwater type — a street fighter. But once in the White House, Bannon’s role was less clear and the president chafed at claims that Bannon controlled his administration’s agenda.
.. They care about what the president and his administration can do for them. They support Trump because he articulated and, increasingly, is enacting an agenda they believe will improve their lives and secure the future peace and prosperity of the country.
.. They will still make the case to voters for economic policies that expand the middle class, for pro-citizen immigration policy and for a foreign policy that is circumspect about foreign military engagement.
.. Mr. Wolff is known in New York and Hollywood for his withering takedowns of popular public figures; he was only ever going to write one kind of book... “Fire and Fury” is a typical piece of “access journalism,”.. Mr. Wolff takes the genre to another level, and perhaps a lower level. If he has employed objective criteria for deciding what to include or exclude, it’s not clear what those criteria are. By the looks of it, he included any story, so long as it was juicy.
.. “Many of the accounts of what has happened in the Trump White House,” Mr. Wolff writes, “are in conflict with one another; many, in Trumpian fashion, are baldly untrue. Those conflicts, and that looseness with the truth, if not with reality itself, are an elemental thread of the book. Sometimes I have let the players offer their versions, in turn allowing the reader to judge them. In other instances I have, through a consistency in accounts and through sources I have come to trust, settled on a version of events I believe to be true.”.. what to do when two sources make contradictory claims. A responsible reporter, or one more scrupulous than Mr. Wolff, would seek out corroborating evidence or do more research. Mr. Wolff simply “settles” on his preferred version... Mr. Wolff often writes as if he were the omniscient narrator of a novel... “Sessions was certainly not going to risk his job over the silly Russia business, with its growing collection of slapstick Trump figures. God knows what those characters were up to—nothing good, everybody assumed. Best to have nothing to do with it.”.. It seems unlikely that Mr. Wolff interviewed Mr. Sessions, and unlikelier still that the attorney general told him any such thing about his own thoughts on recusal. How does Mr. Wolff know then?.. Reporters, especially though not exclusively political reporters, are more interested in the meaning of facts than in the facts themselves. They’re concerned with interpretation rather than accuracy, with “narrative” rather than detail, with explaining rather than disclosing, with who’s happy or angry about a story rather than whether it’s true, with what’s likely to happen next week or next year rather than with what happened yesterday.
First, people who go into the White House to have a meeting with President Trump usually leave pleasantly surprised. They find that Trump is not the raving madman they expected from his tweetstorms or the media coverage. They generally say that he is affable, if repetitive. He runs a normal, good meeting and seems well-informed enough to get by.
Second, people who work in the Trump administration have wildly divergent views about their boss. Some think he is a deranged child, as Michael Wolff reported. But some think he is merely a distraction they can work around. Some think he is strange, but not impossible. Some genuinely admire Trump. Many filter out his crazy stuff and pretend it doesn’t exist.
.. Third, the White House is getting more professional. Imagine if Trump didn’t tweet. The craziness of the past weeks would be out of the way, and we’d see a White House that is briskly pursuing its goals
.. there are two White Houses. There’s the Potemkin White House, which we tend to focus on: Trump berserk in front of the TV, the lawyers working the Russian investigation and the press operation.
Then there is the Invisible White House that you never hear about, which is getting more effective at managing around the distracted boss.
.. The anti-Trump movement suffers from insularity. Most of the people who detest Trump don’t know anybody who works with him or supports him.
.. gets viewers addicted to daily doses of righteous contempt and delicious vindication.
.. The movement also suffers from lowbrowism. Fox News pioneered modern lowbrowism... “For Wolff’s book, the truth seems almost a secondary concern to what really matters: engagement.”.. In every war, nations come to resemble their enemies, so I suppose it’s normal that the anti-Trump movement would come to resemble the pro-Trump movement.. It’s a struggle over what rules we’re going to play by after Trump. Are we all going to descend permanently into the Trump standard of acceptable behavior?.. There’s a hierarchy of excellence in every sphere. There’s a huge difference between William F. Buckley and Sean Hannity, between the reporters at this newspaper and a rumor-spreader. Part of this struggle is to maintain those distinctions, not to contribute to their evisceration.
The problem is that Wolff’s approach is too well-matched to his material. As Andrew Prokop explains on Vox, Wolff’s writing is a rehashing of gossip. What the Times’s and Washington Post’s White House teams have been doing through painstaking reporting—producing stories in which the account of every absurd incident in the life of the Trump Administration is based on conversations with several different sources—Wolff accomplishes by absorbing the ambient noise, the self-aggrandizing statements, the overheard (or surreptitiously recorded) conversations, and reshaping them as a narrative all his own. This tone, more than the substance, is what gives the book the flavor of a peek behind the curtain
.. Wolff’s book seems to occupy a middle ground: between the writing of White House newspaper reporters, who exercise preternatural restraint when writing about the Administration, and the late-night comedians, who offer a sense of release from that restraint because they are not held to journalistic standards of veracity. That middle ground, where there is neither restraint nor accuracy, shouldn’t exist. That “Fire and Fury” can occupy so much of the public-conversation space degrades our sense of reality further, while creating the illusion of affirming it.