As Michael Wolff set the MAGA world on fire with quotes that he claims came from Steve Bannon in his new book, it is important that his history of sensational deceit is taken into consideration — especially since those close to the former White House chief strategist deny the accusations.
In Wolff’s upcoming book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” he claimed that Bannon said in an on-the-record interview that the meeting between members of the Trump campaign and Russians was “treasonous” and “unpatriotic.”
Bannon had reportedly been planning to refute the quotes, but backed off after Trump’s scorched earth statement against him.
“In the unreleased statement, Bannon would have called Trump Jr. a ‘patriot’ and say that he doesn’t believe that he committed treason, according to a description from those familiar with it,” the Hill reported.
While many may want to believe the claims as a means to attack both Bannon and our president, it is important to consider the source.
In his first bestseller “Burn Rate: How I Survived the Gold Rush Years on the Internet,” Wolff was accused of misquoting a dozen people for his sensational tale about his own failed Internet startup.
One of the subjects of the book, Net entrepreneur Isabel Maxwell, called her quotes and representations by Wolff “gratuitous and inaccurate.”
In response, Wolff claimed that the quotes came from notes that he took when he sat in on meetings.
“In any of the meetings where I was present, he never took notes,” she said, adding, “If he wasn’t Linda Tripping it, he was Stephen Glassing it,” Maxwell told the SF Gate in 1998, referring to a disgraced former New Republic journalist who had been exposed for fabricating entire stories during his time at the publication.
Wolff was also deemed a liar by hotshot book editor Judith Regan and New Republic columnist Andrew Sullivan while he was writing for New York Magazine.
After writing a profile about Regan for the magazine, she disputed nearly every paragraph contained within it. She later accused him of being obsessed with her while vowing to take him to court over his claims.
“Michael Wolff has been obsessed with me and my sex life for close to 30 years,” she told the New York Daily News in 2008. “I’m finally going to give him what he wants – he’s going to get [bleeped] by Judith Regan.”
After Regan was fired by HarpersCollins over her plan to publish O.J. Simpson’s book “If I Did It,” Wolff sent her a vaguely threatening email urging her to speak to him for his book on Rupert Murdoch titled “The Man Who Owns the News.”
“Once again, I beseech you: Talk to me,” Wolff wrote in an email to Regan. “Considering the dreadful things I write about you when you don’t talk to me, it really can’t get any worse by talking to me. … Come on, you know how this works. You’re now the News Corp. whipping girl – so at least put it back to them.”
After Regan refused to bow to his threat, he kept his word and referred to her in the book as a “nut,” “unemployable anywhere else” and “a reviled figure.” He goes on to claim that one of Murdoch’s lawyers had said she made “anti-Semitic remarks” — even though in his endnotes he acknowledges that News Corp. later apologized to Regan and admit that she never said those things.
“Michael Wolff had an obligation to prominently set the record straight,” Regan told the Daily News at the time. “He’s grossly irresponsible. I’m going to sue him personally, so he’ll have to spend his own money. He projects his own perverted view of the world on everyone else. He is consumed with hatred, vitriol and pathological envy.”
In the book, Wolff also claimed that Regan had gone on a date with former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes.
“It was a business dinner. [Wolff’s book is] laced with inaccuracies, and you can add this one to the list,” Ailes said at the time. Regan also disputed the claim, saying they had simply had dinner once to discuss business matters.
According to a report from the Washington Post, Wolff is “a provocateur and media polemicist, Wolff has a penchant for stirring up an argument and pushing the facts as far as they’ll go, and sometimes further than they can tolerate, according to his critics. He has been accused of not just re-creating scenes in his books and columns, but of creating them wholesale.”
The validity of his new book is already being questioned over claims that Trump did not know who John Boehner was, despite photos of the duo golfing together and him mentioning the former speaker in at least four campaign speeches and a tweet.
In a 2004 cover story for the New Republic, Michelle Cottle wrote that Wolff, “has a reputation for busting embargoes and burning sources by putting off-the-record comments on the record.”
“He is adroit at making the reader think that he has spent hours and days with his subject, when in fact he may have spent no time at all,” Cottle quoted an editor who had worked with him as saying.