Michael Wolff, the author of the best-selling novel: “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House”, speaking at The University of Toronto, shared his opinions on modern-day journalism, independent writing, and the character of President Trump.
The first few minutes of the event set a clear precedent for Wolff’s impending comments on journalism and Trump’s America. Having been introduced by Peter Loewen, the Director of the School of Public Policy and Governance, as someone, “unmatched in the world of political journalism”, Peter Loewen, Wolff very quickly made clear that he did not think of himself as a journalist.
He said, “the thing that distinguishes me from most journalists today… I don’t work for anyone”. The implication here is one that clearly targets the legacy media and big corporate media figures who not only hold clear biases in favor of their stakeholders but are also held to a strict agenda.
Michael Wolf: “There are only a handful of us, independent journalists left”
In speaking of independent journalism, Wolff said there are, “only a handful of us left”, and he said this “distinguishes me from the people who call themselves journalists”. It seemed very interesting how clearly Wolff drew the line between himself and journalists. Even later saying he never once spoke to the White House Press Corps unless to exchange pleasantries.
Yet again, Michael Wolff talked about the importance of independence in his success, saying “I got to do this book because I don’t work for anybody.” It brings to question whether corporate media is at all capable of standing up against the Trump administration.
Earlier this year, when Ksenija Pavlovic broke the White House’s ban against live streaming, she said she did this because she prioritizes free press, but also because she is not held back by corporate interests or stakeholders. A publication or journalist’s independence appears parallel with their capacity and willingness to stand up against the administration.
Michael Wolff certainly did not hold back on his criticisms of President Trump. He started by saying that Trump “did not have the skillset” for the job, especially as someone with no political experience.
He further criticized Trump’s lack of a “loyal” staff. Comparing him to other presidents who have generally entered their White House with a close group of people they have worked with for years, the quick turnover in the Trump administration certainly stands out in contrast.
He also generally did not think highly of President Trump and/or his intelligence. Wolff said that not only is Trump “an idiot”, but that “he’s a different kind of idiot because he’s the President of the United States.” According to Wolff, “idiocy should be trivial,” but with Trump, “you can’t forget about him”. To add salt to the wound, he quoted Steve Bannon’s description of Trump, who apparently, had called him, a “warm-hearted monkey.”