A CNN anchor blasted author Michael Wolff on Saturday for "misrepresenting" himself at the outset of his project in order to gain access to the White House, citing emails in which Wolff allegedly promised to "humanize Donald Trump."
Wolff, the man behind the new tell-all book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, accused CNN of siding with the president when anchor Michael Smerconish questioned the methods he used to get inside the West Wing.
"You're doing the work of the White House to discredit this book. The White House wants to discredit this book," Wolff said in the contentious interview.
Smerconish said he had "legitimate" questions about Fire and Fury after seeing "the email trail" that enabled Wolff to make regular visits to the White House.
"'I like Donald Trump. Hey, I want to humanize Donald Trump. I'm the guy who can change perceptions. I'm the guy who can combat the liberal, negative media bias against him,'" Smerconish said, appearing to mimic what Wolff may have written in emails to White House communications director Hope Hicks.
Wolff shot back, saying the whole point of writing his book was "to change perceptions, which actually I might have succeeded in."
"When you said, 'I might be able to change perceptions of him,' you meant to the negative?" Smerconish asked.
"I mean, this is what a writer does," Wolff responded, chuckling at the question. "It would be of no value if I went into this, and I did not change perceptions."
Several high-profile journalists have questioned the accuracy of various accounts and passages contained in Wolff's book, while also accusing him of capitalizing on media criticism in order to curry favor with the president during his writing process.
"I know that when I write emails seeking interviews, my word choice is to say, 'I will treat the individual with dignity and respect,'" Smerconish said. "I never go so far as to say, 'Let me humanize,' 'You know I like the person.'"
"Read my book. That is all I have – that is my final word," Wolff responded.