MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski won scattered praise Thursday morning after she booted author Michael Wolff off "Morning Joe" for refusing to acknowledge his role in spreading the rumor that U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley is having an affair with President Trump.
Hold your applause.
Wolff’s penchant for factually challenged narratives and lurid innuendo was well-known long before the Haley episode. Brzezinski, “Morning Joe” co-host Joe Scarborough, and everyone else in media who made Wolff’s new book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, a top-trending news story simply didn’t care. They either overlooked the author’s history of fabulism or they dismissed it outright.
Many even excused the factual errors in Fire and Fury as they promoted it.
In reference to a particular anecdote that was shown to be inaccurate, Brzezinski said, “The spirit of it was completely true."
“Morning Joe” guest John Heilemann, a self-styled D.C. insider who managed somehow to remain oblivious to his work partner’s long and storied history of sexual misconduct, said of Fire and Fury that, “It does ring true to a lot of people who've reported closely on this White House, including me.”
Scarborough explicitly downplayed the book’s significant errors, reasoning that, "It's not a front-page story for the New York Times or the Washington Post. It's a much bigger picture."
"Criticism of Michael's book, though, is that he doesn't get everything exactly right. That's what happens when you interview 1,000 different people, and everybody comes from their own version," Scarborough added.
MSNBC’s Katy Tur said elsewhere, “Here's the thing about the book. I read it. A lot of the stuff did read as – did feel true."
There’s "a lot of it that reads true, that feels true,” she added.
Over at CNN historian Douglas Brinkley said of Wolff’s new work that, “Some of it may be hyperbole or exaggeration, but the overall portrait rings true to an awful lot of people."
CNN host Brian Stelter added, "There's disappointment about the errors that are in the text, but the book itself does hold up.”
As “Fake But Accurate” made its return to newsrooms eager to promote the book, Wolff himself became the toast of the town, the featured guest on programs like the “Today” show, “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” and “Real Time With Bill Maher.”
But now that he’s playing coy about whether he insinuated Haley is having an affair with the president, well, that’s a bridge too far for some.
It was okay when Wolff’s book only suggested the president was mentally insane. It was okay when it was found to contain multiple obvious falsehoods. Brzezinski could look past all that, apparently. Never mind Wolff’s history of slipshod and dishonest journalism. Trump must be resisted!
Brzezinski will likely have company in denouncing Wolff. Others will likely jump ship. But when that time comes, resist the urge to award kudos.
These people all knew what they were getting into with this author.