On Wednesday, Meghan McCain cornered author Michael Wolff on The View, eliciting his admission that he used at least one lengthy conversation that was off the record in his book, “Fire and Fury,” which attacked President Trump and his family. She also bluntly confronted him about all the people he quoted in his book that have denied remarks attributed to him.
McCain began: “Michael, your credibility is being questioned. Trump says the book is full of lies.”
Wolff sniffed, throwing down his puny gauntlet: “Let’s remember who my credibility is being questioned by.”
McCain ran right over him:
New York Times Maggie Haberman, New York Times John Martin, David Brooks, CNN’s Alyson Camerota, Tony Blair, Tom Barrack, Kate Walsh, Anna Wintour, all denying quotes. Washington Post reporter Mark Berman was in the Four Seasons the same time as Ivanka Trump. You admitted to mixing up Mike with Mark Berman. “Trump needed the Constitution explained to him.” His advisors say Nunberg has fabricated stories in the past; this goes on and on. The age of the White House communications director; there are lots of factual errors in here. So what I want to know from you is, what do you say to the people –
Wolff, trying to cut his losses: “I regret mixing up Mike Berman and Mark Berman. The Berman brothers have my apology.”
McCain pointed out that she was personally offended by Wolff’s methods, as the book “Game Change,” which revolved around her father, Senator John McCain, had quoted disgruntled staffers the same way Wolff’s book had. She continued:
So I’m curious: When you talk about staff, you didn’t talk to his Cabinet; did you ever interview Jared and Ivanka? And how can I trust some of these quotes, when again, Tony Blair, Tom Barrack, Kate Walsh, Anna Wintour, all these people are denying these quotes and stories attributed to them?
Wolff: “I think that you have to look at, also, the other people who are not denying –“
McCain, cutting through: “Steve Bannon.”
Wolff: “– and actually, the great number of people, and there were, initially, there was people questioned. It begins with a dinner with Roger Ailes and Steve Bannon.”
McCain, seizing the moment: “Was that off the record?”
Wolff: “And people were — that’s a good question. But people questioned this. And they said, ‘How could I know this?’ And there is no ‘I’ in this book. I don’t appear in this book for a very specific reason: It’s not about me; it’s about other people’s impressions of Donald Trump.”
So anyway, this dinner was questioned, and then it came out because somebody who was at this dinner pointed out, “Oh, this dinner was actually at my house,” which is, that’s how I know exactly what happened there. So when you write a book like this, and this is a particular kind of book, I mean, The New York Times is going into some sort of apoplexy about this; probably because I kind of scooped them; we’re all journalists, and this is what we do.
But I want to say there’s room, there’s room. Daily reporters do a specific job; book writers do a specific job. My goal was not to give the explosive things that happened every day in this administration and therefore make you forget what happens the day before, but to give this longer view to put some context, to put everyone actually to put everyone in the seat that I sat on in the West Wing, to see that this administration from that point of view, to see the forest for the trees.
McCain determinedly reiterated her prior question:
I’m not saying that they aren’t idiots for honestly letting you around and giving you that kind of access because, quite frankly, had you invited me to your house at any point before this book, I would have said, ‘hell no, of course not.’ I don’t go to [a] journalist’s house and start dishing about anything private in the political circles I’m in. I’m just confused, were you friends with Steve Bannon and Roger Ailes beforehand and you were like, “Come to my to house for an off-the-record dinner” and then you reported on it, or was it on the record?
Wolff parried: “Fair question, and I’ll tell you what happened. This was actually an off-the-record dinner, but two things happened.”
McCain: “This is why people hate journalists, by the way. That’s why I don’t believe in the concept of off-the-record, this right here.”
Wolff admitted that Ailes’ remarks were, indeed, off the record, but since he was already dead, it didn’t matter. Then he alleged that Bannon encouraged him to use the off-the-record conversation: “With Roger Ailes’ death it seemed to me that that was, ‘off-the-record’ died with the death of the source. That’s number one. Still, Steve Bannon understood that it was off-the-record. Not long after Roger died, Steve said to me, ‘You’re going to put that on the record, aren’t you? You’re going to use that, that was history.’ So I took it. “
Watch McCain and Wolff below: