Michael Wolff Says Researching Fire and Fury Was “Alarming in Every Way”
Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House writer Michael Wolff told Stephen Colbert on Monday night that he’s surprised by how much of a splash his book has made in the past week. That baffled the Late Show host: “You describe the president as mentally unstable, unfit for the office,” he pointed out. “Basically kind of gibbering to his cheeseburger when he goes to bed. He’s got the launch codes. Why wouldn’t that cause a splash?”
Wolff’s reply? “Because I thought we knew this!”
In truth, Wolff’s book does paint a picture many readers are probably already familiar with: an incompetent, child-like president; warring factions within the White House; an overarching belief among those who surround Donald Trump that he’s unfit for office. But the details have been juicy enough to make the book an overnight success—even earning Wolff a personal bashing from the president, which, of course, only served to move up the book’s publication date and, probably, encouraged more people to buy it. But getting those details, Wolff admits, required a lot of judgment calls—because apparently everyone in the White House has their own contradictory story.
“Everybody is lying in their own particular way because that’s what you do in the Trump White House,” Wolff said. “They would kill each other. You have these two sides who would be each other’s assassins if they could be. So, therefore, how do you get the truth out of one side telling you one thing, one side telling you the other?”
For Wolff, the answer was to collect stories from as many people as possible about a particular event and then to use his judgment. Still, he insisted, “You should believe all of it. That’s the alarming thing—that this is all true.”
As for why the writer won’t release the recordings that he reportedly collected to corroborate his work—which has been criticized for alleged inaccuracies? As far as Wolff’s concerned, that’s not his job. “If you want to turn to a recording, these people are nothing but recorded,” Wolff pointed out. “They’re on television all of the time. I’m offering something different. I’m offering—and this was totally mystifying to the people in the White House—I’m offering a book.”
When Colbert asked Wolff to name the most surprising discovery he made that people haven’t been talking about, Wolff noted that most staffers in the White House have their own press secretaries. He said the administration is made up of “different White Houses with these little staffs going out, talking to the press all day long.” Because of that, Wolff said, it’s not hard to see where all the leaks in this administration came from.
“I was the sort of, ‘Come to me and tell me how horrible you feel about working here,’” Wolff said. “I was the guy.” How did that feel? As Wolff put it, “alarming in every way.”
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Laura BradleyLaura Bradley is a Hollywood writer for VanityFair.com. She was formerly an editorial assistant at Slate and lives in Brooklyn.