Author Michael Wolff admits to blending fact and fiction in his new book, “Fire and Fury: Inside The Trump White House.”
“If it rings true, it is true,” Wolff has argued.
No. It’s true only if it really is true.
It’s encouraging that many people are greeting the book with the skepticism it deserves, but too many Americans are giving it too much credibility. A recent Morning Consult/Politico poll found that while 13 percent of all registered voters found the book to be “very credible,” almost double that many liberals –24 percent – believed it was very credible. (Only 4 percent of conservatives found it very credible.) This is part of a years-long disturbing trend in which Americans are more likely to believe or disbelieve information based on ideology. It’s reminiscent of the Obama era, when more than three-quarters of Republicans either doubted or did not believe Barack Obama was born in the United States because of the bigoted birtherism conspiracy.
We began the Trump era lamenting the rise of fake news while the Washington Post tracked more than more than 2,000 lies told by President Trump, even as he persistently claimed the media were making up things about him. Well, by the end of 2017, about 46 percent of Americans had begun believing media were fabricating stories about Trump at least some of the time. That’s why an embrace of “Fire and Fury” by even a quarter of liberals is worrying.
Wolff tells readers he knows sources lied to him and that there are glaring contradictions.
From the book’s prologue:
“Many of the accounts of what has happened in the Trump White House are in conflict with one another; many, in Trumpian fashion, are baldly untrue. These conflicts, and that looseness with the truth, if not with reality itself, are an elemental thread of the book.”
An author openly admits “an elemental thread” of the story he has written has a “looseness” with truth, “if not reality itself,” and those who want to believe the worst about their political opponents read on as though that massive caveat means little, if anything at all.
During the Bush era, liberals gleefully spoke of “truthiness,” a term coined by comedian Stephen Colbert, to slam conservatives disdainful of an evidence-based reality. Now that Wolff has offered up a version of truthiness palatable to liberals, everyone needs to do a better job resisting the urge to play along.
It is not necessary to cling to partial truths and conspiracies to effectively stand against Trump. We’ve long noted that the blending of fact and fiction is just what Trump wants. Don’t let him have it.
We need less truthiness – and more truth.