Let’s start with a short book review.
American author, Michael Wolff was given unprecedented access to the Trump White House. Sadly, he ended up writing a book that eschews journalism and plumps for polemic.
To be clear from the start, I was gunning for ’Fire and Fury’. I wanted to see Trump exposed as an imbecile. But having trawled through Wolff’s text, I’m left wondering if it’s possible that any human being - let alone a President - can be so truly awful. We’re all human - a mix of good and bad. Isn’t Trump the same?
At times entertaining, often cumbersome, ’Fire and Fury’ shows Wolff to be an average writer but for me, a shoddy journalist. Speaking of his privileged access, the author describes himself as “a fly on the wall.”
But he is a fly that chooses only to settle on faeces.
From a Trump perspective, it paints an unrelentingly negative picture. And therein lies the problem. Even if Wolff did find himself bombarded with chaos and conflict, he fails point-blank to explore any avenue that doesn’t suit his critical narrative. It’s like walking into a bar full of men and assuming it’s a gay bar… when it may actually be a strip club.
Wolff, his mind made up, downs tools and shifts his eyes away from the stage.
Even the most vehemently anti-Trump reader can only suspect the author has a personal agenda when there is quite literally nothing positive to report. Every chapter neatly ties in with a rigid polemic, and you have to conclude that Wolff is guilty of spouting as much spin as Team Trump. The President, apparently, has not even a shred of decency. And so ‘Fire and Fury’ comes across as bluster: it loses credibility and you find yourself switching off.
The author - unwittingly, but quite perfectly - ends up reflecting his subject. It’s a classic own goal.
This book, however, is just a symptom of a far greater malaise.
Let’s look for a moment at the American comedian and chat show host, Stephen Colbert. Like so many others, his scattergun approach fires bullets at pretty much anything that comes out of Trump’s mouth. I used to find it entertaining. But there comes a point when you surely have to throw the man a bone - or at the very least, be far more selective - and accurate - when going on the attack.
Last week, when discussing immigration at his recent bi-partisan meeting, Trump said his position would be “what the people in this room come up with.” These were simple words for consensus politics - and entirely reasonable. And yet this statement was skewered by Colbert as evidence that Trump had “a brain made of tofu - it absorbs whatever you throw at it.”
Kinda clever and funny, sure; but I seem to remember only last week Trump being labelled a dictator.
That said, I find Trump’s stance on refugees and border control abhorrent. To describe African nations and Haiti as “sh**hole countries” is bigoted and racist. Now that’s a monumental screw-up truly worth firing bullets at.
But is Trump always off-point? For me, his tweets are vindictive, crass and sometimes just dangerous. But how can we say they are not effective when - to take one example - North Korea has finally entered dialogue with the South?
“My button is bigger than your button” is unpresidential, you cry? Well, who’s to say a more considered and diplomatic approach would have led to better results?
So why not, even if we are politically opposed, give credit - if and when it’s due? Has he done nothing of merit? Can we not concede any territory? How about falling unemployment? Tax cuts? It appears not. The left has boxed itself into a corner - to give Trump a pat on the back for anything is impossible now that they have invested so much, ahem, fire and fury, against him.
Worse, they make stupid mistakes that may or may not be deliberate. Over the weekend, The Wall Street Journal reportedly misquoted the President suggesting he said, “I probably have a good relationship with Kim Jong Un of North Korea”. The audio recording clearly reveals him saying the far more hypothetical “I’d probably have a good relationship with Kim...”
All of which gives credence to Trump’s conviction of media bias.
Almost unbelievably, Trump is being proved right. The left-leaning media is twisted against him. For want of a counter-balance, it’s no wonder Fox News has become Trump’s mouthpiece.
The media focus is almost unerringly on an incredibly complex Russia-collusion investigation that is still in progress. Why can’t it wait, hold back and report on the actual news once Special Counsel Robert Mueller has delivered his final verdict?
Like the impatient child they accuse Trump of being, mainstream media outlets can’t restrain themselves from weighing in prematurely to flood the networks with damaging conjecture and speculation. It’s like slagging off the ailing striker who’s only been on the pitch a matter of minutes. They want to see him substituted - they want him off the field of play, NOW.
Thing is - and god knows we’ll never hear the end of it - Trump may yet be exonerated and go on to score the winning goal.