[February 2018] Trump’s response to “Fire and Fury” supports book’s claims


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Kaela Dockray ’20

 

If I’ve learned nothing else from our president during his first year in office, at least I’ve gained a new appreciation of the importance of being accountable for my actions. Time and again, Trump has simply failed to do this. Rather than taking the blame, our president points fingers at his political opponents, his cabinet and now Michael Wolff, journalist and author of the scathing new tell-all, “Fire and Fury.”

 

While I cannot attest to the accuracy of Wolff’s book, I can conclude that Trump’s response has only made things far worse for him and his administration. Trump’s inability to recognize that his actions caused this publicity-storm only confirms many of the criticisms made about him in the book.

 

We all make mistakes. Yes, even you, Mr. President. While nobody is perfect, it seems that Trump believes he is the closest thing to it.  However, he was mistaken enough to grant unfettered access to the West Wing to a journalist who, for over six months, not only observed the inner-workings of the White House operation, but interviewed several White House officials, including Steve Bannon, Trump’s right-hand man. Trump allowed this to occur because presumably he expected nothing less than a glowing review about his first term in office.  BIG mistake.

Alas, Wolff did not pen the review Trump had envisioned. To the contrary, he wrote a raw and critical assessment on the Trump Administration, making it clear that our president is neither mentally stable nor equipped to fulfill the most powerful position in the world.

However, while the ugly picture that Wolff painted did not come as a surprise to the majority of Americans, it did to our leader. Trump reacted with fire and fury, seeking to undermine Wolff’s credibility.  He claimed he never granted  access to the administration’s highest levels, claimed that he never spoke to Wolff regarding the book, engaged in a Twitter tirade, and threatened to sue both Wolff and the book’s publisher (even though such suits run afoul of the First Amendment.)

Trump’s reaction only heightened the public’s intrigue. The publisher moved up the date of the book’s release by four days, and people immediately lined-up to purchase a book that the President did not want a single eye to see. It rose overnight from around 48,000 on Amazon to number one on the New York Times best seller list. Sales continue to soar, which led to Wolff thanking the president for the attention he’s brought to the book.

To be fair, it is unrealistic to expect an administration to simply ignore allegations of this magnitude. But it is reasonable to assume that the leader of the Free World would be somewhat measured in his response. After all, it is only a book, and every president in recent history has had their fair share of critics who write about them. But none have responded as this president has.

Although providing Wolff unrestricted access to the White House was a bad idea from the outset, almost any reaction would have been better than the route our president chose. Acknowledging that mistake and moving on would have been a more effective course. Yet, somehow our president missed the basic lesson of taking responsibility for mistakes, a principle that may have saved him from endless bad publicity in the aftermath of the book’s publication.

We all need to stand by our decisions. If “Fire and Fury” were filled with praise, it goes without saying that Trump would have bragged about his choice to invite Wolff into his lair. So, the question I am still left wondering is, why is our “fearless” leader so afraid of owning the consequences of his own doing when things don’t go as he had hoped?  But more importantly, if this is how he responds to a publication admittedly replete with some inaccuracies, how can we expect him to react in the face of legitimate crises?

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