The liberal website Axios has offered a pointed perspective on the provocative book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” that was released ahead of schedule on Friday due to “overwhelming demand” created by the promotion of controversial excerpts from the book.
Axios acknowledges that there are “definitely parts of Michael Wolff’s ‘Fire and Fury’ that are wrong, sloppy, or betray off-the-record confidence.” However, Axios contends that there are two things Wolff gets “absolutely right, even in the eyes of White House officials who think some of the book’s scenes are fiction.” Axios claims that Wolff’s “spot-on portrait of Trump as an emotionally erratic president” is correct, as is “the low opinion of him among some of those serving him.”
Such contentions are guaranteed to appeal to liberals and never-Trumpers who agree with the alleged contempt that some Trump aides have for him and his family. According to Axios’ Jonathan Swan, that includes people who are often seen declaring their loyalty to Trump.
Some of the sources quoted in “Fire and Fury” have denied making statements that were attributed to them, such as Katie Walsh, former deputy chief of staff, although others, such as former chief strategist Steve Bannon, have not disputed their comments.
Axios defends Wolff’s “liberties with off-the-record comments,” characterizing them as “ethically unacceptable to nearly all reporters,” a contention that is comical in the context of mainstream media reporting in the Trump era, which has suffered an epidemic of citing anonymous sources.
Axios claimed to have had “many of the same conversations with the same sources Wolff used,” although the website declined to “betray them, or put on the record what was off.” With their alleged insider insight, Axios contended that certain excerpts from the book “ring unambiguously true.”
Axios did Trump-haters the favor of excerpting many derogatory items from the book, listing them under several negative categories, including “how Trump processes (and resists) information,” “instinct over expertise,” “ill-preparedness” and “low regard by key aides.”
Trump was characterized as trusting “his own expertise — no matter how paltry or irrelevant — more than anyone else’s. What’s more, he had an extremely short attention span …”
Policymaking in the White House was described as flowing up. “It was a process of suggesting, in throw-it-against-the-wall style, what the president might want, and hoping he might then think that he had thought of this himself.”
The most scathing excerpts included in the Axios piece regarded the disparaging opinions of Trump purportedly offered by key aides.
“He spoke obliviously and happily, believing himself to be a perfect pitch raconteur and public performer, while everyone with him held their breath,” read one excerpt.
“If a wackadoo moment occurred on the occasions … when his remarks careened in no clear direction,” another excerpt read, “his staff had to go into intense method-acting response. It took absolute discipline not to acknowledge what everyone could see.”
Axios need not have bothered with publishing a litany of insulting excerpts from “Fire and Fury” to encourage sales of the controversial book. Following its release on Friday, the title quickly became a number one bestseller on Amazon.