In spite of growing evidence that Michael Wolff’s explosive new book Fire and Fury should not be treated as the epitome of truthful and accurate reporting, Morning Joe co-host Joe Scarborough and Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson were still keeping the faith and treating it as the Holy Grail of recording the true story behind the internal workings of the Trump administration.
At one point early in the second hour of Friday’s Morning Joe, Robinson professed his conviction that “every page [of Wolff’s book] really rings true, doesn’t it Joe,” to which Scarborough replied: “It does. It really does.” Joe went on to note that “there’s so many things in the book [...] that we’ve said on this show over the past several years,” and “they’re just written out on the page, exactly how we said it.”
Oddly enough, earlier in the show’s broadcast, even Scarborough had admitted to the questionability of Fire and Fury’s anecdote that Trump didn’t know who former Speaker of the House John Boehner was (which does appear to be completely false). Regardless, this didn’t affect Joe’s certainty about the veracity of the rest of Wolff’s book, either today or yesterday morning.
The Boehner anecdote is not the only thing that has emerged to cast doubt on Wolff’s commitment to covering his subjects fairly, however. Both The Washington Post and The Washington Times have recently drawn attention to past reports suggesting a possible pattern of Wolff gravely and systematically misquoting his interviewees. If these past allegations are correct, then that does not reflect well on the truth value of Fire and Fury’s many quotes and supposedly verbatim reproduced conversations.
Moreover, New York Times White House Correspondent Maggie Haberman, not exactly a pro-Trump sycophant, has also called Wolff’s credibility into account. According to The Washington Examiner [emphasis mine]:
Maggie Haberman, White House correspondent for the New York Times, ripped author Michael Wolff on Friday for "getting basic details wrong" about President Trump's campaign and administration in the newly published book "Fire and Fury."
"I believe parts of it and then there are other parts that are factually wrong," she said on CNN. "I can see several places in the book that are wrong. So for instance, he inaccurately describes a report in the New York Times. He inaccurately characterizes a couple of incidents that took place early on in the administration. He gets basic details wrong."
Haberman said Wolff's "style" is to create a broad narrative in a story, but gets many of the details wrong.
Additionally, as reported today by NewsBusters, in an exclusive sit-down with Savannah Guthrie on Friday’s Today Show, Wolff admitted that when it came to getting his story, “I certainly said what was ever necessary to get the story.”
Unconcerned by any of these revelations, Scarborough used another segment on his Friday morning show to call for congressional Republicans to immediately issue an “ultimatum” to Trump threatening to impeach the President. As Joe explained, his stern warning was based on both details from Fire and Fury that he found so similar to past claims of his as well as several points from his own Washington Post op-ed yesterday:
KASIE HUNT: Joe, uh, David mentioned your piece in this morning's Washington Post, uh, which you titled, quote: “I asked Trump a blunt question: Do you read?” And you wrote, in part, quote: “We are a nation that spent the past 100 years inventing the modern age, winning World War I, defeating Hitler [...] winning World War II, and liberating half of Europe by beating the Soviets in the Cold War. But today we find ourselves dangerously adrift at home and disconnected from [...] allies abroad that made so many of those triumphs possible. The world wonders how the Untied States will survive Donald Trump. And I ask, what will finally move Republicans to deliver a non-negotiable ultimatum to this unstable president? Will they dare place their country’s interests above their own political fears? Or will they only move to end this American tragedy when there is nothing left to lose?” And, uh, Joe, I would posit to you that, uh, they're not gonna do this until their own political interests line up with what you say the country's interests are.
SCARBOROUGH: Yeah. And, you know, Gene Robinson, you wonder if they wait until the party is wiped out in 2018.
SCARBOROUGH: You wonder if they wait until 400,000 people are dead on the Korean peninsula, uh, including maybe 50,000 to 100,000 Americans.
ROBINSON: [with Joe] Americans.
SCARBOROUGH: You wonder exactly what's going to make Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan stop, stop fearing, uh, a segment of their base, uh, back home, or-
SCARBOROUGH: -a segment of their members. You just -- what exactly will it take? You have -- this is extraordinary. This has never happened in American history before. You have the national secur- -- for-, forget all of his staff members that are already, uh, have already pled guilty and are cooperating or are out on $10 million bail. You now have his current national security adviser, his secretary of state, uh, his treasury secretary, uh, Gary Cohn, uh, everybody around him saying that he's not fit to be President of the United States.
ROBINSON: [agreeing] Mm-hm.
SCARBOROUGH: I have been saying for some time now, for over a year, that you had people running his campaign who believe that he was in a state of pre-dementia. You have reports now that, that over the holiday weekend, he was in Mar-a-Lago, heavily made up, repeating himself, not recognizing people. Like, what is the triggering event?
ROBINSON: Yeah, I ha-.
SCARBOROUGH: Because, I've got to say, throughout most of history, the triggering event would have already occurred. What exactly will force Republicans, if not to remove him from office, to go there and say: Mr. President, you have two weeks?
SCARBOROUGH: You have two weeks to stop tweeting. You have two weeks to start acting responsibly. You have two weeks to start acting rationally. You have two weeks to stop threatening nuclear war. You have two weeks to begi-, to filling out these cabinet agencies. You have two weeks to beginning, begin acting like a sane and rational human being, or we will take the action that every Fortune 500 company, every college university, every public interest group, every high school football team would take. And we will move to get you out of office or recommend to the cabinet that you do that. Why can't the Republicans do that when so much is at stake?
Finally, Robinson was allowed to get a proper word in, making his own separate argument that Americans should vote for congressional candidates this November expressly on the basis of their support for impeaching Trump. The Post columnist framed the issue of removing Trump from office as a literal matter of life and death for planet Earth while simultaneously maintaining that his concern for Trump blowing up the world was not at all about “partisanship”:
ROBINSON: Well, [unintelligible], um -- that's, you know, the, the most important question before us right now. And, and the answer -- uh, I’ve, look, I’ve -- I despair that they will ever do that. Um, uh, I would, at this point, I wish they would just, um, uh, fulfill their constitutional responsibility. Congress can, uh, can constrain and restrain an out-of-control president in various ways. Congress has the, the power to investigate, uh, to, uh -- the power of oversight, the power of the purse, um, uh, and can do a lot of things, uh, to exert pressure on, on a president and try to keep him, uh, between the guardrails. But this congress won't do its job and won't do its duty. And I, I see no reason to expect that to change. I -- look, I think the duty of the American people is, in November, to elect a congress that will. And let's hope we get to November.
ROBINSON: Um, but, but to elect a congress that will, uh -- and this is not in terms of partisanship. They can be Democrats. They can be Republicans. They can be independents. Whatever they are, that they are, that they are patriots, that they, that they are willing to do what clearly is their job, their constitutional role right now in this extraordinary situation.
Morning Joe has been warning about Trump and Republicans destroying the world with nuclear weapons repeatedly over the past several months and has also called for Trump to be removed from office before, usually by referring to a need for action to be taken in accordance with the 25th Amendment.