Speed Reads

Quotable: Time machine edition

A year ago, Fire and Fury's Michael Wolff said the news media was being too hard on Trump

Over the weekend, Michael Wolff said his new book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House might help end the Trump presidency and if he "left anything out, it's probably stuff that was even more damning." What he left in paints a president universally seen by those around him as a dotard unfit to be president. On Sunday, CNN's Brian Stelter argued that Trump's mental fitness, now a global story, is a legitimate question for the media to pursue. He also posted an interview with Wolff from Feb. 5, 2017, when Wolff had just started reporting the book now roiling the Trump White House.

A year ago, Wolff said Trump was winning his war against a hysterical media. When Trump is outrageous, he said, journalists "go into a fit of apoplexy, and what we set up is as we try to go after his credibility, our credibility becomes equally a problem."

Stelter asked him if it was "appropriate to be writing these pieces that are attempting to maybe go easy on them in order to gain access," and Wolff rejected the premise. "I'm going to them and saying 'What do you think? What do you believe? Tell me, this is what we want to know, what's going on here?'" he said. Media defenders like Stelter border on cutting "quite a ridiculous figure," he added. "Very clearly, at the center of this, is this new grail that we have: How are we going to take this guy down?"

The Trump presidency is "actually a great story, which is why I am, like all of us, spending every day on it," but people are missing "a very interesting distinction," Wolff said. "We spend time on this story because it's so interesting; everybody else, however, is saying we spend time on this story because it's so appalling. So where is the reality there?" A year later, he seems to have found his answer.