Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/01/09/watch-wolff-on-trump-hes-a.html
Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/01/09/watch-wolff-on-trump-hes-a.html
Trump: “The only kind of people I want counting my money are little short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.”
Nope, not creepy at all
Fixed that for 'ya.
Nothing shocks me any more about tRump, he’s a virulent scumbag of the highest order along with his many toadies that follow him.
Also, wasn’t the ‘preamble’ to that, “Black guys counting my money! I hate it.”?
That section about fact-checking felt a bit weird. He became pretty defensive. I hope all this isn’t disproven later.
And yet certain Jews (Stephen Miller, Jared Kushner, some Chabadniks, Sheldon Adelson, ALPAC* types) continue to handwave away the dangers this casual anti-Semite and his right-wing populist supporters pose to other Jews and to democratic institutions. It’s a real kapo mentality.
[* you might know it as AIPAC, but they really place Likud before Israel]
I can understand why he would be defensive, it can be a way to discredit his job as a journalist.
But yes, I hope it’s not disproven too. You don’t even need to lie about Donald Trump to write a good book.
Wolf is a generally unreliable “journalist” (in scare quotes!), who’s been caught in falsehoods before.
And so far a handful of statements/quotes contained in the book have come into question. Like Trump not knowing who John Boehner is just after the election. A guy he mentioned repeatedly in multiple contexts. Met multiple times, And actually golfed with in the years before the election.
But I haven’t seen any of them out and out falsified or fingered as fabrication. Like for boehner, given the info about Trump’s mental state. It’s entirely possible he forgot boehner exists. Or it’s possible Wolfe’s source lied. And the fact that Wolfe didn’t bother to follow up or point out either possibility will tell you what kind of reporter he is. Everything pointed out so far is either a minor factual error. Or directly sourced or quoted from an on the record person. And Wolfe claims he has tapes.
So that’s were it stands Wolfe is sketchy. Some of the bits in the book are questionable. But so far it doesn’t look like Wolfe made anything up (which he normally does). It’s a very appropriate situation for Trump to find himself in.
Wolff doesn’t seem to be a Jayson Blair or a Stephen Glass type who completely fabricates people, events, and quotes. Rather, he seems sloppy in the sense that, if something is ambiguous, he’ll put it in anyway because he cares about tone more than content. He also has a history of being fast and loose with what’s on and off the record.
As I like to say, he’s one of those writers who are very good at getting to essential truths despite their disragard for the details of those pesky supporting facts.
He has a habit of creating very detailed quotes out of very brief to non existent notes. And writing profiles of people he’s only briefly met. Basically he’s a NY society gossip page columnist masquerading as something else.
He doesn’t neccisarily wholely fabricate things. As he repeatesnebulous claims, attributes them to nebulous sources. Or obscures what he’s actually claiming happened. But he’s definitely been caught essentially writing words for people, or crafting events out of rumour.
He’s also incredibly sloppy in that, as I mentioned above. He never follows up anything he’s told to see if it may be true. Or if there may be something more there. He lays out what he was told (in some cases what he claims he was told). And surrounds in in provisos so he can’t ever be accused of accepting something untrue. Claiming anything untrue. Because that’s not what he cares about. He cares about salacious gossip.
Yeah he’s always struck me as the sort of person who does not care about or believe in essential truth.
I’ll leave this here. Just ran across it and it does a very good job of outlining precisely what’s wrong with Wolfe as a “journalist”. What’s wrong with the book. And why there might be more wrong with the book.
It’s trash. Trash that tells us exactly what we want to hear.
It just so happens that so far a good lot of details are holding up in one way or another. Most of what he’s reporting has bee. Reported elsewhere, by better news orgs. Perhaps in less detail and from anonymous sources.
Considering Trump’s inability to read, it’s possible he knew who “Jon Baner” was; but who is this “John Boner” guy?
He probably isn’t, but he gets at them despite that. Like you I wish the blockbuster book had been written by someone more reputable, but someone more reputable doesn’t have Wolff’s peculiar talent of getting into places where he’s not supposed to be and being allowed to listen in on the conversations there.
I’ll still stick to he doesn’t. I think he carefully crafts tautologies and Barnum statements. So that he sounds like he’s pointing out some grand truth. But also so that he can never be disproven, never be accused of falsehood. And so that you can’t exactly peg down his actual point of view enough to argue with him. Malcolm Gladwell does a very similar thing, and I find him similarly frustrating.
That said I don’t think any other kind of writer was gonna be invited this (purportedly) deep into Trumps White House. Its very appropriate actually. I don’t think we should exactly laud Wolfe, the work he’s produced doesn’t seem exactly high minded, or even valid. And getting lauded has long seemed to be his goal.
But better journalists will tease out a lot from what he claims he was told. Especially if Trump keeps pushing enough to get the actual records and tapes out.
ETA: I fixed the link in my previous post. For some damn reason on mobile my copy pastes kept getting replaced with either parts or non-sequitors. The first time I tried to dump the link it was something about bigfoot.
I think he’s had one thing that was definitely shown to be wrong, and that was that when he listed a group of people he saw at a restaurant or something, he listed like… Mark [lastname], journalist for [newspaper] rather than, as it was, Mark [same lastname], who was a lobbyist for [thing]. Given how salacious the book supposedly is and the fact that it’s been out for a little bit now, it’s kind of impressive that it’s the only outright fabrication, which is totally understandable (write down Mark [lastname], editor goes “the writer for [newspaper]?”, Wolff goes “yeah, that sounds right”,) we’ve hit yet, considering Wolff’s reputation.
Well that’s why I pointed out the Boehner thing. That’s the sort of thing that’s unlikely to be true. Unless something very specific happened, And Wolfe never bothered to look into that possibility. If it’s not true. Wolfe has already deployed his defense. Roger Ailes told him that, And a 3rd party was present. And he was just reporting what Ailes said.
So to quote myself.
He crafts things very carefully so that he can always be in the clear. Makes statements that are vague enough that you can’t be sure if he’s claiming something literally happened. Or if a source claimed it did. Contradicts himself. Describes things in a way that is simultaneously negative and positive. And so forth.
It’s like a horoscope.
I’m not saying his overall gist isn’t true. Or that many of the anecdotes related weren’t told to him as true. Just that it’s bad reporting. If it’s even reporting at all.
And he’s not really telling us anything we haven’t heard before. He could have but he doesn’t appear to have dug any further than accepting what sources told him at face value.
From what I’ve read, this is a gossipy hack book that probably shouldn’t be a significant part of the historical record. But it’s also probably as close as you could get to having real journalism beat this White Outhouse at its own PR game. Arguably, Wolff is what Maggie Haberman would be if – like Turmp – she wasn’t slowed down by boring old ethical scruples.
I don’t think this is a good thing, and I’d like for decent journalism to remain in existence. But it’s become clear that a lot of the electorate are slack-jawed dum-dums who will simply never hear any message that’s not packaged as moronic, oversimplified bellowing. If Turmp is the only politician willing to speak that language (since he can do no other), then they’re never going to hear any reason not to vote for him.
His defenders point to his son-in-law as proof he’s not antisemitic, but having a Jewish son-in-law doesn’t mean you can’t also believe the old stereotypes.
Now, maybe he’s never heard of Blood Libel (as incurious as he is), but there’s plenty of evidence he believes all the “wealthy, manipulative” stereotypes, and I’ll bet he thinks of those myths in a good way: “Hey, they got all the money, I want in on their schemes!”
Poe’s law is about being unable to distinguish satire from honestly held opinion. Is there some similar law for not being able to distinguish a joke from a deadly serious question?
(I’m on the side of this being a totally valid, real life question)
I’d tend to agree, but (as always with people like this), it probably doesn’t take much to bring out the other side of that coin.