Michael Wolff, the type of man who wears very colorful pocket squares as his “thing,” has been on a nonstop media tour since the release of his White House tell-all Fire and Fury. Wolff knows how to gin up attention, and on Jan. 19 he giddily shared a “tidbit” on Real Time with Bill Maher that didn’t make his book: Donald Trump is having an affair right now.
One little thing: Wolff added that he hadn’t technically nailed this conclusion down in what we call a “factual” way for the book. And in a delightfully awkward interview with theSkimm released Wednesday, he dug in further with a string of half-baked defenses for the ages:
Well, I just didn’t say who. I didn’t have enough enough proof to say who this was with. And I didn’t say that.
He is technically correct on this point. Wolff told Maher only that Trump is sleeping around, that his mistress is in the White House, and that readers should look toward the end of Fire and Fury for clues. By Wolff’s estimation, he told theSkimm, this is merely laying out facts for readers to interpret:
All I can say is: the book is the book—if it’s in there, if you see it, if it’s not in there....I can’t account for the way other people have read this book.
Ah, the book is the book. Of course. Wolff feels no remorse for “raising questions” about Trump:
This is a man who has spent the entirety of his life pursuing women—every day, possibly every hour of every day. I think it seems, on the basis of that history—self-confessed, by the way—that it would be unlikely that that behavior would have stopped just because he went into the White House.
What Wolff is trying to take credit for is exposing Trump’s history of womanizing. It’s not his fault that the internet followed his advice and then identified UN Ambassador Nikki Haley as the woman in question. (Haley was so besieged that she felt the need to deny the “disgusting” charge publicly.) Why would anyone think he was going after her specifically, just because she was the only possible person it could be when you followed the trail Wolff set out on Maher’s show? Besides, he told theSkimm, Haley was kind of into it (emphasis mine):
I would say [Haley] seems to have embraced it....All she does is hammer on this fact. I mean, if I were being accused of something—and I’m not accusing her of anything...I mean, she hasn’t tried to avoid this, let’s say. The book doesn’t accuse her. I didn’t accuse her. So, in effect, some other reporter accused her.
Here and elsewhere, theSkimm’s cofounders, Carly Zakin and Danielle Eisberg, pressed Wolff on whether he understood his reasoning. Didn’t he see how such rumor-mongering could be interpreted at a time when women were speaking out about sexual harassment in the workplace?
I don’t understand how anything would be interpreted. Literally, the book is the book.
Literally. And unfortunately for the rest of us, Wolff is Wolff.
Watch Wolff’s full interview with theSkimm below: