Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, an unflattering portrait of the current U.S. president, was released today and is already a #1 Amazon best seller. The book’s success seems to have benefited from pre-release hype (New York Magazine, The New Yorker, NYT, Reuters, the Gaurdian, Breitbart) and the president’s criticism of the author (WP, Fox (the article seems to switch to a different subject half way through) and a primary contributor to the book, former strategist, Steve Bannon (Breitbart, The New Yorker). If coverage of the pre-released highlights is any indication, the contents of the book will likely reinforce the suspicions of those already critical of the president, and of those critical of those critical of the president. In other words, I doubt we will see any converts.
For those nostalgic for the more ‘normal’ indiscretions of the Bush-Obama years, it’s sobering to remember that the NYT has not always been the useful foil to the administration it portrays itself as now. In an article released this week, James Risen recalls his efforts to expose domestic surveillance in the U.S. and how the Bush and Obama administrations sought to send him to jail for it (The Intercept, DN!) while the Times did little to stand in their way. While Trump tried to ban Wolff’s book, it was only a feeble effort at censorship and no one took it seriously. How odd to think that democracy in America may be marked by the nation’s right to elect a narcissistic idiot to the highest office in the land, the press’s right to mock him, and the president’s right to respond only with fire and fury, signifying nothing.