“Fire and Fury” by Michael Wolff incites fire and fury in the White House

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“Fire and Fury” by Michael Wolff incites fire and fury in the White House

Saanika Mahashetty

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Few books have received this much furor upon publication. Released four days in advance, on wait lists in bookstores and libraries, and a New York Times bestseller, the anticipation for Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, a tell-all about President Donald Trump’s White House, is remarkable.

Fire and Fury has sparked uproar since its release on January 5, 2018.  On January 4,  Trump’s attorney sent  a letter to Wolff and Wolff’s publisher accusing the author of “defamation by libel…false light invasion of privacy” and that they “immediately cease” publication of the book. In addition, fact-checking site PolitiFact said of the book that “Many details are simply wrong,” and that “by any standard of sound journalism it has big problems with transparency and sourcing.”

Such criticisms, however, have not stopped people from buying the book. According to Bloomberg, Wolff could make $7.4 million from hardcover sales of his book. Wolff has also continued to vehemently defend his writing, saying in a CNN interview that he “spent about three hours in one-on-one conversation with the President during the campaign, the transition and in the White House.” Bloomberg states that much of Wolff’s reporting corroborates news reports from other organizations.

The book begins several weeks before the election, when Trump’s campaign appeared to be close to failing. Wolff emphasizes how none of the members of Trump’s campaign had any faith in him. In fact, he wrote, “He was so unsure of his own campaign that he even refused to donate money to it. He billed himself as a billionaire throughout the campaign, but the best he could do was lend $10 million on the promise that he’d get it back when they raised more money.”

According to Wolff, even the Trump family was not too excited about Trump’s win: “When it was clear Donald was going to win, Donald Jr. looked as if he had seen a ghost, Melania had tears, not of joy and Trump went from befuddled to disbelieving to quite horrified.”

Later on in the book, Wolff details the distant relationship between Melania Trump and President Trump, particularly during the inauguration. Trump was apparently dissatisfied with the celebrations due to lack of celebrity attendance; he reportedly also argued repeatedly with his wife.

However, these are not even the most shocking of Wolff’s claims. Wolff claims that Trump’s eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her husband Jared Kushner struck a deal to make her the U.S. president. Ivanka supposedly accepted the position as a presidential adviser to get close to the presidency.

Claims such as these have led to the book’s continuing popularity. Over 1.7 million copies sold within less than a month of its release. The book’s publication, according to some, is an affirmation of the value of free speech, since it is clearly critical of the President.

“Trump as a president and his actions so far are all questionable, and I believe this book was an opinion which should be freely expressed,”  sophomore Dina Garmroudi said.  “I understand the message of the book; the book’s message is helping it gain more publicity.”

In a testament to the book’s reach, even students that have not read the book are still aware of its contents through the media uproar surrounding its publication. Freshman Sabrina Mei said, “I think this would be an interesting read. It would definitely provide some insight on our president’s interactions with others, and how members of the White House staff perceive him. This book has certainly sparked controversy and outrage among some people, but the immense amount of sales shows that the public is interested in these allegations.”

The popularity of this book signifies not only a new public interest in politics, but an interest in the president himself. A year after placing a controversial, wealthy businessman in the Oval Office, Americans are curious as to how the country will proceed through the rest of the term. Wolff’s book informs readers, the citizens and voters–on a slightly extreme and unverified scale–about what exactly goes on behind the doors of the White House.

Read an excerpt of Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House on the New York Magazine website here.

Featured image courtesy of Literary Hub. Additional reporting was contributed by Stella Ho.