Diary, Politics

Trump Got Wolffed

No Comments 5 January 2018

Trump Got Wolffed

This week in Trumpland.  As excerpts of Wolff’s book Fire and Fury appeared in New York Magazine, the White House released a statement than I republish below.  Bannon calling the Trump family meeting with Russians as “treasonous” in my mind has raised the stakes considerable for Trump. It is truly getting interesting and I suspect that the chance of him not serving out a full term (which at this point I still is more likley) has clearly increased.

From press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders:

Statement from the President of the United States

Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind. Steve was a staffer who worked for me after I had already won the nomination by defeating seventeen candidates, often described as the most talented field ever assembled in the Republican party.
Now that he is on his own, Steve is learning that winning isn’t as easy as I make it look. Steve had very little to do with our historic victory, which was delivered by the forgotten men and women of this country. Yet Steve had everything to do with the loss of a Senate seat in Alabama held for more than thirty years by Republicans. Steve doesn’t represent my base—he’s only in it for himself.
Steve pretends to be at war with the media, which he calls the opposition party, yet he spent his time at the White House leaking false information to the media to make himself seem far more important than he was. It is the only thing he does well. Steve was rarely in a one-on-one meeting with me and only pretends to have had influence to fool a few people with no access and no clue, whom he helped write phony books.
We have many great Republican members of Congress and candidates who are very supportive of the Make America Great Again agenda. Like me, they love the United States of America and are helping to finally take our country back and build it up, rather than simply seeking to burn it all down.


Here is a great background piece how ‘Trump got Wollffed’.


Trump Got Wolffed: The president should have known better. Michael Wolff does not mess around.

By JACK SHAFER January 04, 2018 (Politico)

President Donald Trump could have saved himself a lot of grief if he—or one of his people—had read Michael Wolff’s 2008 book, The Man Who Owns the News: Inside the Secret World of Rupert Murdoch, before permitting the writer seemingly unfettered access to the White House and his underling Steve Bannon.

I’m not the only one to arrive at that observation. On Twitter today, Roger Ailes biographer Gabriel Sherman wrote, “One of the baffling things about Trumpworld giving access to Wolff: all they needed to do was call Murdoch and he would have said don’t cooperate b/c Wolff had written nasty book on him. And Jared/Trump speak to Murdoch all the time!”


Six minutes later, Wolff tweeted back at Sherman, “I kept waiting for that call to be made.”

Why wasn’t the call made as Wolff began collecting string for Fire and Fury, his new book about the Trump White House? The simple answer is that Wolff appears to have mastered a journalistic skill that allows him to suck up one moment and then, when seated at the keyboard, to spit out.

This technique was fully displayed in his Murdoch book, which both accepts the media tyrant on his own terms and demolishes him (as I noted in my review). That book grew out of Wolff’s sympathetic and sometimes flattering account of Murdoch’s takeover of the Wall Street Journal in the September 2007 Vanity Fair. Perhaps confusing Wolff’s positive take with an offer of eternal supplication, Murdoch gave the writer an all-access pass to his operation. How all-access was it? In the book’s acknowledgments, Wolff wrote, “None of this would have been possible without the singular cooperation of this book’s subject, who not only was (mostly) a patient and convivial interviewee but opened every door I asked him to open.” Wolff also extended thanks to Murdoch business executives and family members for honoring the old man’s request that they cooperate.

Murdoch’s high regard for his Boswell ended as soon as the book was finished. A few weeks before its official release, the mogul lacerated Wolff and his publisher for the book’s alleged inaccuracies. “It contains some extremely damaging misstatements of fact which I will be happy to point out to you if we could meet. Otherwise I will have no option other than to speak to Random House,” Murdoch emailed Wolff.

Why on Earth did Murdoch open the door to his life to Wolff? He had, after all, established a firm reputation as an unmerciful and often cruel journalistic narrator. Murdoch’s family and executives wondered the same when Murdoch instructed them to talk to Wolff. “Everybody said, ‘Why did he do this?’ No one seems to know,” Wolff told the New York Times.

Wolff appears to have juked the Trumpies with a similar move. They foolishly interpreted several of Wolff’s generous-to-Trump pieces (most notably a conversation with candidate Trump and a post-victory interview with Steve Bannon, both for the Hollywood Reporter) as a kind of declaration of solidarity. Yes, the Wolff pieces were generous; they were not fawning. A work of journalism need not incorporate the give and take of an Oxford Union debate. As long as a piece conveys intelligence or insight—and Wolff’s Trump work has—there is no automatic shame in transcribing the words of newsmakers. If Wolff was guilty of anything, it was of extending to victorious Republicans the time-honored opportunity of having their say, something Barack Obama and company enjoyed repeatedly following the 2008 election without any mass freak-out.

After Wolff caught hell from journalistic corners for the stenographic quality of his Trump stories (Glenn Greenwald, Charles P. Pierce, Jeff Jarvis, Mathew Ingram and others), he basked in the heat like a sauna. The greater the criticism from the press, he had to know, the greater likelihood the Trumpies would embrace him. In a November Q&A with Digiday, Wolff fed additional bait into the trap by denouncing media coverage of Trump and endorsing his stenographic interview style as a useful journalistic technique. In a post-inauguration Newsweek piece titled “Why the Media Keeps Losing to Donald Trump,” he expanded on his early themes to describe the Trump gang as superior to the press. In a February appearance on CNN’s Reliable Sources, Wolff admitted to “sucking up a bit to get access” to the White House, but found validation in this approach when his material was “retailed through the media chain” by other journalists.

That Murdoch got suckered by Wolff says volumes about Murdoch’s naiveté. But the fact that Trump got suckered by Wolff a decade after his frequent telephone companion Murdoch got suckered says even more. Did Trump never ask Murdoch about Wolff? (If that’s the case, Murdoch would have very good reason to have called Trump a “fucking idiot,” as Wolff reports.) How can it be that Murdoch never volunteered to Trump in one of their phone calls that Wolff would smile in his face but ultimately stab him? Wolff’s penetration of the White House presents two equally damning conclusions about Trump—that’s he’s too much of an egoist to care who might be loitering around the White House, gathering string on him, and that he’s too incurious about the world to spot a potential danger to his presidency.

If ever there were a man who deserved to get Wolffed, it’s Donald Trump.

******

Wolff lists me in the acknowledgments section of his book. The only thing I did for him was gossip over lunch. Send lunch invitations to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). My email alerts are gluten free, my Twitter feed craves the paleo diet, and my RSS feed doesn’t order an entrée until it has consumed three martinis.


Postscript Jan 10, 2018

Bannon imploded

Bannon called Trump fiiring the FBI director the biggest mistake in American political history. It will be interesting to hear what he will call his biggest mistake. Talking to Wolff. Speaking of treason.  Now Bannon lost even Breitbart as his key platform. Yes, the Senate majority leader is enjoying every minute of this.

NYT reports: Stephen K. Bannon is stepping down from his post as executive chairman of Breitbart News, the company announced Tuesday.

Mr. Bannon’s departure, which was forced by a onetime financial patron, Rebekah Mercer, comes as Mr. Bannon remained unable to quell the furor over remarks attributed to him in a new book in which he questions President Trump’s mental fitness and disparages his elder son, Donald Trump Jr.

Mr. Bannon and Breitbart will work together on a smooth transition, a statement from the company’s chief executive, Larry Solov, said.

In the statement, Mr. Bannon added that he was “proud of what the Breitbart team has accomplished in so short a period of time in building out a world-class news platform.”

Mr. Bannon’s departure from the website is the latest ignominious turn in a career that was once one of the most promising and improbable in modern American politics.

Though he was virtually unknown outside of his work at Breitbart, Mr. Bannon was named chief executive of the Trump campaign two and a half months before Election Day. And he helped instill the discipline and focus that allowed Mr. Trump to narrowly prevail in the three Midwestern states that gave him victory in the Electoral College.


He accompanied Mr. Trump to the White House and became his chief strategist. With an office in the West Wing and a direct line to the Oval Office — he reported to no one but the president initially — he seemed well positioned to wreak havoc on the political institutions and leaders he railed against as too corrupt and self-serving.

But after repeated clashing with Ivanka Trump, the president’s elder daughter, and Jared Kushner, her husband and Mr. Trump’s senior adviser, Mr. Bannon was pushed out after less than eight months with the administration.

No one has been more closely identified with the Breitbart website or had more to do with emboldening its defiant editorial spirit than Mr. Bannon did after its namesake, Andrew Breitbart, died of a heart attack in 2012. In Washington, Mr. Bannon works and lives part time in a townhouse nicknamed the Breitbart Embassy.

Once outside the administration and free to pursue his political enemies, Mr. Bannon set out on an audacious mission to challenge Republican incumbents he deemed insufficiently loyal to Mr. Trump’s agenda. He vowed to replace Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, and started backing far-right candidates, some with questionable backgrounds and losing track records at the polls.

His full-throated, unfailing support of Roy S. Moore in Alabama even after allegations surfaced that the former judge preyed on women as young as 14, ended in an embarrassing setback: Democrats took the Senate seat for the first time in a generation.

 

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Peter

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