I’ve been reading Wolff’s Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House off and on. It’s tough. It’s terribly written, this kind of gossipy gibbering, and the only thing keeping me going at all is the occasional deliciously vicious insider story that pops up at you. I think, though, that Jeff Sharlet has the right perspective on it.
A number of my fellow journalists are saying privately and publicly that Michael Wolff’s book is no big deal — “nothing we didn’t know already.” This makes me think of people who see some piece of modern art, a Jackson Pollack or an Ellsworth Kelly, and say, “I could do that.” Yeah, but did you?
Exactly. I know it’s a bad book, but why didn’t any of the excellent journalists who are sneering at it now write a better book first? Wolff is a hack and a bit sleazy, but if he’s saying what everyone already knew, at least he had the guts to actually go against the cozy insider culture that infects government and the media right now.
Which would you prefer: An asshole who relishes his access to power as an ornament with which to improve his status with other elites, or an asshole who betrays it? Wolff, who by many accounts will betray just about anybody, was the writer for the job of bringing us inside the administration that wants to screw everybody.
When you put it that way…I want the asshole that’s willing to write about the bad crap going down at the cost of getting kicked out of the White House press room. I want a newspaper publisher who is willing to go to press with the story that will cost them easy access to the spin the administration wants to give to everyone, and instead has to work to get the story.