Friday, January 05, 2018

Wolff Did What Every Other Reporter Is Too Cowardly to Do

Trump and Michael Wolff

Having been around politics for decades and also been authoring a blog and columns for over a decade as well, one of the games that is played all too often by members of the media and reporters is that of scratching each others backs.  From the politician's perspective, it helps keep coverage more favorable while for the reporter it keeps the doors and access open to the politicians they write about.  In the process, coverage of the unvarnished truth often gets lost in the process as reporters put continued access above their duty to the public to expose corruption, incompetence, sexual misdeeds, etc., etc.   In his new book, Fire & Fury, Michael Wolff threw this game of protecting future access out the window and laid bare what far to many reporters are afraid to do and in the process centered a spotlight on the foul cesspool that is the current occupant of the White House and his enablers and sycophants.  A piece in GQ lays out this premise and explains what so many journalist who play the access game are acting as if someone pissed in their Cheerios and assailing Wolff.  Here are excerpts: 
All of Wolff’s excerpts from Fire & Fury . . . . . it confirms what we have all always known to be true: that the president severely lacks the cognitive ability to do this job, and that he [Trump] is surrounded at all times by a cadre of enablers, dunces, and outright thieves. As much as I wanna discredit Wolff, he got receipts and, more important, he used them. Wolff got it all. Wolff nailed them.
And look how he did it. He did it by sleazily ingratiating himself with the White House, gaining access, hosting weird private dinners, and then taking full advantage of the administration's basic lack of knowledge about how reporting works. Some of the officials Wolff got on tape claim to be unaware that they were on the record. Wolff denies this, but he's very much up front in the book's intro about the fact that he was able to exploit the incredible "lack of experience" on display here. In other words, Wolff got his book by playing a bunch of naive dopes.
Thank God for that. Wolff has spent this week thoroughly exploiting Trump and his minions the same way they've exploited the cluelessness of others. And he pulled it off because, at long last, there was a reporter out there willing to toss decorum aside and burn bridges the same way Trump does.
Everyone around Donald Trump is too polite to Donald Trump. Democrats, foreign dignitaries, underlings… all of them. And the White House press is perhaps the worst offender. From the media pool playing along with Sarah Sanders during press conferences—conferences where Sanders openly lies and pisses on democracy—to access merchants like Maggie Haberman doling out Trump gossip like so many bread crumbs, too many reporters have been far too deferential to an administration that is brazenly racist, dysfunctional, and corrupt. And for what purpose? It’s clear to me that Haberman and the like aren’t saving up their chits for just the EXACT right time to bring this Administration down. No, the only end goal of their access is continued access, to preserve it indefinitely so that the copy spigot never gets shut off. They are abiding by traditional wink-wink understandings that have long existed between the government and the press covering it.
But Wolff didn’t do that. He did not engage in some endless bullshit access tango. No, Wolff actually USED his access, and extended zero courtesy to Trump on the process, and it’s going to pay off for him not just from a book sales standpoint, but from a real journalistic impact. I am utterly sick to death of hearing anonymous reports about people inside the White House “concerned” about the madman currently in charge of everything. These people don’t deserve the courtesy of discretion. They don’t deserve to dictate the terms of coverage to people. They deserve to be torched.

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