In what reads like an instruction manual in shameless, muckraking, tabloid “journalism,” Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs describes in detail how “Fire and Fury” author Michael Wolff managed to manipulate his way into the White House so he could write his partly debunked and thoroughly sketchy hit piece on the White House.
Citing “interviews with multiple current and former Trump aides and advisers,” Jacobs provides an account of Wolff’s “embarrassing” exploitation of the “inexperienced” Trump White House.
First among Wolff’s various deceptive strategies was lying to Team Trump about the way he planned to frame the book, including presenting them with a fake title: “The Great Transition: The First 100 Days of the Trump Administration,” which he invented to make it appear as if he was going to approach the administration from a sympathetic angle.
Wolff’s first contact with the Trump administration, Jacobs reports, was with Trump himself. Trump phoned Wolff after the author’s appearance on CNN in which he pushed back on the critical media coverage of Trump:
Wolff told Trump during the call that he wanted to write a book on the president’s first 100 days in office. Many people want to write books about me, Trump replied — talk to my staff. Aides Kellyanne Conway and Hope Hicks listened to Wolff’s pitch in a West Wing meeting the next day, but were noncommittal.
Several aides said Hicks later informally endorsed talking with Wolff as long as they made “positive” comments for the book, which they said Wolff told them would counter the media’s unfair narrative.
Publicly, most of the blame for Wolff’s repeated invites has fallen on Steve Bannon, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders telling reporters that “close to 95%” of the interactions with the staff came at Bannon’s request. However, Jacobs notes that sources say other key aides, including Conway, also invited him at times. In total, he visited the White House “about 17 times,” according to one source.
During that time, Wolff managed to convince everyone that he had been authorized to talk to them by someone with authority. “Nearly everyone who spoke with Wolff thought someone else in the White House had approved their participation,” Jacobs writes.
Wolff allegedly conducted interviews with Jared Kushner, Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, then-Deputy Chief of Staff Katie Walsh, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Press Secretary Sean Spicer, Conway, and others. Jacobs reports that it wasn’t until August that Hicks, Kushner and others realized “that fellow aides who had spoken with Wolff, especially Bannon, may have provided damaging anecdotes about them.”