News & Politics

The Wolff Who Cried, 'Who, Moi?'

Michael Wolff of The Hollywood Reporter speaks at the Newseum in Washington, Wednesday, April 12, 2017, as he moderates a conversation with Counselor to President Donald Trump Kellyanne Conway during "The President and the Press: The First Amendment in the First 100 Days" forum. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

It’s been tough to escape all the hullabaloo, foofaraw, and general cacophony surrounding Michael Wolff’s purported Trump White House exposé Fire and Fury, but I’ve been agnostic about it. Sure, some of it sounds plausible, but that doesn’t mean it’s true. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. I don’t trust any of these people enough to know one way or the other, so mostly I don’t care. Wolff certainly isn’t getting any of my money for it.

All I know about the book is what I’ve picked up from people who’ve read it, and who choose to believe or disbelieve Wolff’s various claims based on their level of loathing for Donald Trump. As no-nonsense journalist Katy Tur put it to Wolff himself: “Congratulations on the book and congratulations on the president hating it.”

Wolff was the belle of the ball when he made scurrilous claims about Trump, who seems to be either Literally Hitler, Literally Mussolini, or Literally Stalin, depending on the time of day. But what happens when Wolff targets someone who’s more sympathetic? What do all his new friends do then?

He found out in a hurry when he made some not-so-subtle allegations about Trump and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley. In the book, Wolff wrote:

That’s as far as Wolff went with it in print. But then, in an interview with Bill Maher last week, Wolff claimed Trump is currently having an affair and there’s a clue in the book:

“You just have to read between the lines. Now that I’ve told you, when you hit that paragraph, you’ll say bingo.”

A lot of people are assuming “that paragraph” is the one about Haley.

Which takes us up to earlier today, when Wolff appeared on Morning Joe and was confronted directly by Mika Brzezinski. She could barely contain her rage as she called him out about the Haley claim. Wolff insisted that he’s never come out and accused Haley of anything, and Mika #literallycouldnoteven:

“You’re on the set of Morning Joe. We don’t B.S. here!”

[PAUSE FOR LAUGHTER]

Wolff wants to have it both ways here. He’s floating rumors and making a fortune from it, but then he insists he’s doing no such thing. “Oh, I never said that! Why is she denying something I never said?” It’s deeply disingenuous, which is pretty much Wolff’s brand.

This is quite a change in tone for Brzezinski, though. Just a few weeks ago she brushed off other inaccuracies in the book by telling Wolff, “The spirit of it was completely true.” That was different because… it just was.

That’s the problem with rejecting the very idea of objective truth. If an allegation confirms your biases, if it gives you that sense of righteousness you need to get through your day, then it must be right. If it doesn’t, then it’s wrong. Feelings over facts.

True, false, whatever. That’s not the point. How much does it enrage you? How much does it enrage people you don’t like? You have to balance out the two, and that’s how you decide whether or not to believe it.

So I’ll admit my own biases when I say I have a tough time believing Nikki Haley slept her way to the top. I have an even tougher time believing Michael Wolff didn’t imply she did. But nothing is tougher than taking Mika Brzezinski’s outrage seriously. I’d be embarrassed for her, if I thought it was worth the effort.

I’m just glad I never gave any credence to that stupid book in the first place. I don’t have to cringe every time somebody brings up stuff like this:

Ugh. At least those geniuses all proved they know how to read, as long as their lips are moving.

By the way, Wolff is already firing back at Brzezinski:

Delightful. Now I’ll just enjoy the show as these creeps all stab each other in the back and then cry for my sympathy. I hate them all and wish them nothing but misery. I hope all that money is worth their souls.