Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

It’s Worse Than a Crime . . .

The Corner

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by Victor Davis Hanson// National Review


I agree with most commentators that Michael Wolff’s sensational mythologies in Fire and Fury will be largely forgotten within three weeks — with one caveat (see below).


Wolff confirmed what most already knew about the Left’s abandonment of standards of journalistic integrity in order to “prove” that Trump is unfit (an “oppositional” Jim Rutenberg or Jorge Ramos had already warned us that “the norms of journalistic objectivity” in the case of Trump no longer necessarily entailed disinterested reporting [as opposed to the straight reporting, say, of Susan Rice’s post facto explanations for Benghazi or for the echo-chamber Iran Deal]), while Wolff’s most sensational charges that Trump can be gluttonous, naïve, and narcissistic were long ago either rumored or detectable within Trump’s own tweets.


Instead, the only point of interest in Fire and Fury is how someone like a Wolff in sheep’s clothing ever talked his way into the West Wing — sort of in the manner that an otherwise savvy General Stanley McChrystal once allowed the flamboyant, left-wing late Michael Hastings of Rolling Stone into his inner circle to sensationalize off-the-record venting about the Obama White House.


Three explanations are plausible (and not mutually exclusive): Some in the Trump West Wing (perhaps worried about post-Trump careers) wanted to establish their maverick fides and undermine their own president; or some wished to sandbag their own rivals in the administration; or some were simply so naïve, so egocentric, or so outright stupid to think that they could charm someone with Wolff’s record and flip him into writing a book that would make them look fairly good.


The first two Talleyrand-like “crimes” of disloyalty are what we expect from West Wing intrigue, but the third is unforgivable as a blunder.

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About Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno, and a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services. He is also the Wayne & Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History, Hillsdale College, where he teaches each fall semester courses in military history and classical culture.

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