- A Fact-Checker’s Guide to Michael Wolff’s ‘Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House’
by Angie Drobnic Holan, http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/
Even books about Donald Trump seem to break norms: Trump hasn’t been in office a year, and already there’s a gossipy insider account that claims to show the real goings-on of the Trump White House. Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House portrays an infighting senior team at each other’s throats, and a president too narcissistic and distracted to be capable of governing.
Is it accurate? Many details are simply wrong. Whether the larger narrative is true is a different question. Here’s a list of the factual inaccuracies PolitiFact noted:
• Wolff said then-Speaker of the House John Boehner resigned in 2011; it was actually 2015.
• Wolff said Trump didn’t know who Boehner was in 2016 (“Who’s that?”), even though Trump tweeted about Boehner’s reputation for crying in 2015.
• Wolff said Wilbur Ross was Trump’s choice for labor secretary; it was actually commerce secretary.
• Wolff misspelled the name of Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen (not “Hillary Rosen”).
• There are many typos, as well as wrong word choices (“pubic” instead of public; a dream “differed” instead of deferred).
• Wolff reported that Washington Post reporter Mark Berman was at a Four Seasons breakfast when it was likely another person named Mike Berman.
• Wolff writes that the infamous Steele dossier, a private compendium of Trump’s history with Russia, suggested that Trump was being blackmailed by Russia. A more restrained interpretation of the dossier suggests Trump could be subject to blackmail, but not that he was the actual victim of it.
A bigger problem with Fire and Fury, however, is that by any standard of sound journalism it has big problems with transparency and sourcing.
The fly-on-the-wall, you-are-here atmosphere that pervades Fire and Fury will undoubtedly sell books. But like other books before it — the 2010 political book Game Change comes to mind — Fire and Fury hardly seems a move in the right direction for well-sourced, evidence-based journalism. Instead it’s a stew of mysteriously sourced dramatic scenes.