Entertaining Read: “How Michael Wolff Got Into the White House for His Tell-All Book”

The Great Transition — much like the Great Hunger or the Great Depression. Jennifer Jacobs, at Bloomberg:

Author Michael Wolff’s pitch to the White House to win cooperation for his book included a working title that signaled a sympathetic view, a counter-narrative to a slew of negative news stories early in Donald Trump’s presidency.

He called it “The Great Transition: The First 100 Days of the Trump Administration.” And in part due to that title, Wolff was able to exploit an inexperienced White House staff who mistakenly believed they could shape the book to the president’s liking.

Nearly everyone who spoke with Wolff thought someone else in the White House had approved their participation. And it appears that not a single person in a position of authority to halt cooperation with the book — including Trump himself — raised any red flags, despite Wolff’s well documented history. His previous work included a critical book on Trump confidant Rupert Murdoch, the Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. co-chairman…

Wolff’s entree began with Trump himself, who phoned the author in early February to compliment him on a CNN appearance in which Wolff criticized media coverage of the new president.

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.

It wasn’t until late August that alarm bells were raised in the White House — when Hicks, Jared Kushner and their allies realized that fellow aides who had spoken with Wolff, especially Bannon, may have provided damaging anecdotes about them…

Trump allies said they sought Hicks’s guidance on whether to speak with Wolff because they consider her to be the aide most familiar with Trump’s media preferences, having served as the White House director for strategic communications before moving into her current role as communications director. She previously was a top communications staffer for Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, and before that worked for the Trump Organization.

Hicks advised at least one Trump ally contacted by Wolff to cooperate with the author if he chose — and if he thought he could shape a positive narrative about the president.

In that regard, Hicks’s handling of Wolff’s book didn’t differ much from previous administrations. One official from former President Barack Obama’s White House said that his administration generally believed in engaging with authors, as long as they were serious journalists and not gadflies or partisan writers…

The concensus seems to be that Hicks is now being targeted by Trump defenders, possibly because she’s the only close Trump associate who hasn’t yet been implicated collaborating with Russia. But complaining that a twenty-something former fashion marketing assistant wasn’t up to the job of running media interference for the White House is like complaining about a diagnosis of Kaposi’s sarcoma — political ‘opportunist infections’ like Wolff indicate an administration with a seriously compromised immune system.

34 replies
  1. 1

    But she has great hair.

  2. 2
    debbie says:

    That initial title (probably bogus from Day 1) would have particularly appealed to Kellyann, shrewd communications expert that she is.

  3. 3
    Yarrow says:

    Hope needs a good lawyer. If she thinks Trump won’t toss her under the wheels of the nearest vehicle, she’s sadly mistaken. If she thinks he’s paying her legal bills again she is going to be very disappointed.

  4. 4
    debbie says:

    @Yarrow:

    If she thinks Trump won’t toss her under the wheels of the nearest vehicle

    I don’t know. She’s awfully cute…

  5. 5
    different-church-lady says:

    The idea that the most powerfull bullshitter on earth got out-bullshitted is just… delicious.

  6. 6
    Ruckus says:

    @different-church-lady:
    I wouldn’t use the word delicious given the context of your comment, but your point is great.

  7. 7
    Gravenstone says:

    @debbie: Not blonde, so not Trump’s ‘type’.

  8. 8
    Roger Moore says:

    But complaining that a twenty-something former fashion marketing assistant wasn’t up to the job of running media interference for the White House is like complaining about a diagnosis of Kaposi’s sarcoma — political ‘opportunist infections’ like Wolff indicate an administration with a seriously compromised immune system.

    I just want to quote this so I can observe it in all its beauty.

  9. 9
    Tim C. says:

    Easiest thing in the world to con a con-man. The kind of person who does that kind of thing is convinced they are the smartest person in the room in all situations. That means you play to that flattery and you can roll them. Every. Single. Time.

  10. 10
    different-church-lady says:

    @Roger Moore: The problem with enjoying that quote is it reminds us that a President like Trump indicates our nation has a seriously compromised immune system.

  11. 11
    Mnemosyne says:

    Wolff seems to be the old-fashioned kind of yellow journalist — the kind who doesn’t mind lying about himself or his motives to get the story.

    I would never want him sniffing around my life or the lives of people I admire, but I enjoy watching him attack my enemies.

  12. 12

    @Gravenstone: If Asians can go blonde, she can.

  13. 13
    dr. luba says:

    @Roger Moore: @Roger Moore: In that metaphor, is Trump AIDS, or is it Putin? I’m guessing the latter.

  14. 14
    Yutsano says:

    @Mnemosyne: This reminds me of the concept of the bee in the hive. It’s very hard to get in, but once you’re there you’re just something accepted like another part of the hive. The fact that NO ONE questioned his presence meant that he was either beneath their notice (considering the arrogance in the WH entirely possible) or was so ingrained right away he was just one of the clan. Either way it’s marvelous.

  15. 15
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Yutsano:

    Nobody at the asylum suspected that Nellie Bly was faking insanity, either. 😄

  16. 16
    Yarrow says:

    @debbie: Trump’s a narcissist. He’ll save no one. The only possible exception is Ivanka, but even that is highly doubtful.

  17. 17
    Yarrow says:

    According to the CNN chyron, John Kelly called Trump “uninformed” about the wall. Also, Bannon “slipped up” at the closed-door hearing.

  18. 18
    J.A.F. Rusty Shackleford says:

    Hey, remember when Barack Obama had to fire Desiree Rogers because 2 people decided to sneak into a White House party and the Secret Service dropped the ball? Those were the days.

  19. 19
    TriassicSands says:

    Supposedly, Trump got a perfect score on the cognitive part of his exam. That supports what I’ve long felt to be the case — Trump’s problem isn’t dementia but just plain old stupidity and profound ignorance. He’s an idiot. And since he’s always claiming to the best in the world at one thing or another, I’m willing to grant him the title of “The King of Stupidity.” Yes, Donald, you are the world’s dumbest dumbass.

  20. 20
    Yarrow says:

    LOL. Sanjay Gupta called Trump’s diet “pretty atrocious.”

  21. 21
    Fair Economist says:

    @TriassicSands:

    Supposedly, Trump got a perfect score on the cognitive part of his exam.

    You have no idea how easy the exam is. There are probably people institutionalized for dementia who could ace it.

  22. 22
    Mezz says:

    @J.A.F. Rusty Shackleford: Holy Sweet Gadzooks. I had forgotten about that. Things like that are enough to drive a person berserk. I think that’s why, at least myself, I enjoy the disasters that befall these nincompoops. It’s an obvious tragedy of infinite variety that they take down good and innocent and law-abidingpeople with them. (For that, let us agree that they enjoy the lowest bowels in hell.)

    Second: Aside from all of the really disgusting and creepy Hicks-Trump-Lewandowski stuff, it’s good to see that her petard is being sharpened. I’m most excited for her time with the Special Counsel. Congress is small potatoes.

    One thing that is particularly enjoyable in all of this, from my professional standpoint, is enjoying seeing people who don’t know their ass from their elbow run into people who are simply quietly competent and dedicated to their jobs.

    Men and women proficient in their vocations will be the downfall of this cabal, and the heroes of a grateful nation.

  23. 23
  24. 24
    Barry says:

    @TriassicSands: “Supposedly, Trump got a perfect score on the cognitive part of his exam.”

    That just means that (a) the exam was on the order of ‘which way is up?’, and/or (b) that doctor was lying.

  25. 25
    Steeplejack (phone) says:

    @Mezz:

    A petard is a small bomb. Sharp­en­ing not recommended.

  26. 26
    different-church-lady says:

    @TriassicSands: Obviously they didn’t ask him which one the elbow was.

  27. 27
    Anne Laurie says:

    @dr. luba:

    In that metaphor, is Trump AIDS, or is it Putin?

    The fact that enough Americans were willing to vote for Trump — or at least *not* willing to vote against the GOP’s candidate — seems like our political T-cells were sadly depleted.

    Putin is just another opportunistic infection, potentially a fatal one.

  28. 28
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Yutsano:

    This reminds me of the concept of the bee in the hive.

    I think it’s technically ‘the wasp / other intruder in the hive’. Predators / parasites that succeed in breaching the hive walls are ignored by the worker bees, because the hivemind isn’t oriented to threats from inside.

    In this analogy, Wolff is just a parasite, but Putin’s haxxor armies are predators.

  29. 29
    Roger Moore says:

    @Anne Laurie:

    Putin is just another opportunistic infection, potentially a fatal one.

    Putin is sufficiently alien that he really ought to be picked up by some part of the innate immune system, like a macrophage or mast cell; T-cells really shouldn’t need to enter into it.

  30. 30
    fuckwit says:

    @Tim C.: it’s true. you can’t cheat an honest man.

  31. 31
    kindness says:

    Good health related metaphore at the end there. Accurate. Nice.

  32. 32
    Roger Moore says:

    @fuckwit:

    you can’t cheat an honest man.

    Sure you can; you just have to do it very differently from the way you cheat a dishonest one. What an honest person won’t do is make themselves complicit in your cheating them.

  33. 33
    different-church-lady says:

    @Roger Moore: At that point it’s not called cheating: it’s called stealing.

  34. 34
    Zinsky says:

    Well, I hope having this jackass in the White House puts to rest forever, the whimsical notion that a businessman has some magical ability to run the U.S. Government more effectively than say, a Constitutional Law professor like Barack Obama.

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