Michael Wolff has a sleazy record that journalists have criticized, even condemned. The fledgling Trump administration’s real mistake was letting this guy in the door of the White House.
Wolff is so bad, some journalists are coming out against him despite the fact that he has attacked the President and given his enemies an argument, albeit a false one, for executing the 25th Amendment.
Michael Wolff was hardly a household name before yesterday, but he has a long history of inflammatory writing about the media, politics, and other issues. Some people who have been burned by Wolff’s questionable tactics are now referring to him as “a total sleazebag,” but others in the media business are defending Wolff and his reporting.
The guy doesn’t care who he leaves in his wake.
“I wonder how many [White House] staff told Wolff things off the record that he then used on the record,” Bloomberg View columnist Joe Nocera tweeted Thursday. “He’s never much cared about burning sources. Can’t imagine that many of those quotes were meant for publication,” Politico reported.
Also from Politico, Steven Rattner, a journalist-turned-financier and former Obama auto czar, tweeted Thursday that “[Steve] Bannon may well have said all that stuff but let’s remember that Wolff is an unprincipled writer of fiction.”
Wolff has his defenders and you can read that on Politico.
Also from Politico: In a 2004 profile, The New Republic’s Michelle Cottle wrote that “the scenes in his columns aren’t recreated so much as created — springing from Wolff’s imagination rather than from actual knowledge of events.” Instead of conventional reporting, she wrote, Wolff “absorbs the atmosphere and gossip swirling around him at cocktail parties, on the street, and especially during those long lunches at Michael’s.”
The late New York Times media columnist David Carr wrote in a review of Wolff’s 2008 biography of Fox News mogul Rupert Murdoch, “The Man Who Owns the News,” that “historically one of the problems with Wolff’s omniscience is that while he may know all, he gets some of it wrong.”
Wolff is widely known, Politico wrote, to invent and not verify anything. New York Times investigative reporter Maggie Haberman tweeted that the book was “light in fact-checking and copy-editing.” Furthermore, Bannon reportedly was set to put out a statement disputing the quotes but it was “spiked” after President Trump went nuclear on his former chief strategist. The President did wait five hours.
Bannon’s aides told Bannon to issue a statement quickly but he didn’t. He needs to still issue a statement but he thinks apologies are a sign of weakness.
A Washington Post author, to his credit, pointed to the author’s lack of credibility.
WaPo wrote: Wolff has made his career lobbing critical bombs from the pages of prestigious magazines like New York and Vanity Fair.
He has also, as The Washington Post’s Paul Farhi wrote on Wednesday, been accused by critics of being “A provocateur and media polemicist, Wolff has a penchant for stirring up an argument and pushing the facts as far as they’ll go, and sometimes further than they can tolerate”
Fahri writes that Wolff has been accused of re-creating scenes out of whole cloth.
“He has been accused of not just re-creating scenes in his books and columns, but of creating them wholesale,” Fuhri said.
That’s not even true. I’m already bored. This book belongs on the rack with The National Enquirer.