Michael Wolff, the author of "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House." AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
"Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House" has set the political world ablaze.
It contains vivid, detailed, and embarrassing accounts of President Donald Trump and those around him.
But the book's author, Michael Wolff, says he can't be sure that all of it is true.
The author of the explosive new book about Donald Trump's presidency acknowledged in an author's note that he wasn't certain all of its content was true.
Michael Wolff, the author of "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House," included a note at the start that casts significant doubt on the reliability of the specifics contained in the rest of its pages.
Several of his sources, he says, were definitely lying to him, while some offered accounts that flatly contradicted those of others.
But some were nonetheless included in the vivid account of the West Wing's workings, in a process Wolff describes as "allowing the reader to judge" whether the sources' claims are true.
Donald Trump January 4 2018
Donald Trump, seen at a meeting in the White House the day after elements of Wolff's book began to be reported. AP
In other cases, the media columnist said, he did use his journalistic judgment and research to arrive at what he describes "a version of events I believe to be true."
Here is the relevant part of the note, from the 10th page of the book's prologue:
"Many of the accounts of what has happened in the Trump White House are in conflict with one another; many, in Trumpian fashion, are baldly untrue. These conflicts, and that looseness with the truth, if not with reality itself, are an elemental thread of the book.
"Sometimes I have let the players offer their versions, in turn allowing the reader to judge them. In other instances I have, through a consistency in the accounts and through sources I have come to trust, settled on a version of events I believe to be true."
The book itself, reviewed by Business Insider from a copy acquired prior to its Friday publication, is not always clear about what level of confidence the author has in any particular assertion.
Lengthy, private conversations are reported verbatim, as are difficult-to-ascertain details like what somebody was thinking or how the person felt.
Wolff attributes his book to "more than two hundred interviews" with people including Trump and "most members of his senior staff." According to the news website Axios, Wolff has dozens of hours of tapes to back up what he said.
Claims contained in the book have been widely reported by the media in the US and further afield.
They include assertions that Trump never wanted to be president, that all of his senior staff considered him an idiot, that he tried to lock the Secret Service out of his room, and that he ate at McDonald's to avoid being poisoned.
Business Insider rounded up some more of the most eye-catching claims in this article.
Trump, who sought to block publication of the book but was too late, tweeted Thursday that it was "full of lies, misrepresentations and sources that don't exist."
Donald J. Trump
I authorized Zero access to White House (actually turned him down many times) for author of phony book! I never spoke to him for book. Full of lies, misrepresentations and sources that don’t exist. Look at this guy’s past and watch what happens to him and Sloppy Steve!
9:52 PM - Jan 4, 2018
41,620 41,620 Replies 20,849 20,849 Retweets 84,221 84,221 likes
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The White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, described the book as "complete fantasy."
Asked to rebut specific points, she said: "I'm not going to waste my time or the country's time going page by page and talking about a book that is complete fantasy and just full of tabloid gossip."
Other people mentioned in the book have also disputed claims made about them.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who the book said warned Trump that he may be under surveillance from British spies, issued a statement describing the claim as "categorically absurd" and "simply untrue."
Anna Wintour, the longtime Vogue editor, also dismissed the claim that she lobbied Trump to be his ambassador to the UK as "laughably preposterous."
Other journalists have also urged caution. Some cited Wolff's track record — questions were raised about his 2008 book on Rupert Murdoch — and others compared his claims with their own knowledge of the Trump White House.
On Friday morning, Wolff responded to claims about the accuracy of his book in an interivew with NBC's "Today" show.
Host Savannah Guthrie asked him: "You stand by everything in the book? Nothing made up?"
He responded: "Absolutely everything in the book."
Shortly after, he expanded, saying: "I am certainly and absolutely, in every way, comfortable with everything I've reported in this book."
This isn't necessarily at odds with what he said in the author's note, as it allows for the possibility that he was told something untrue and repeated it without realising, or reached a wrong conclusion when presenting a version of contested events.
Until now, talk of Trump’s erratic behavior and alleged narcissism was common on social media, late-night talk shows and among political opponents. But Trump’s “fire and fury” comments about North Korea, a raucous rally in Arizona Tuesday and changing response to the violent protests in Charlottesville, Va., crossed a line for ‘some Republicans’ and brought the conversation into the mainstream, even among some supporters.
A POLL BY THE MEDIA AND TECHNOLOGY COMPANY MORNING CONSULT OVER THE WEEKEND SHOWED 55% OF RESPONDENTS SAID TRUMP WAS NOT STABLE.
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., a former constitutional law professor at American University, sponsored legislation in April that would set up an independent commission to determine if any president no longer has the physical or mental capacity to perform the duties of the office. The 25th Amendment to the constitution was ratified 50 years ago and calls for such a body but it was never set up.
The bill now has 28 co-sponsors and while more can’t be added until Congress goes back into session Sept. 5, Raskin says there’s been “a sudden spike after every acute episode” involving Trump’s behavior.
“We need every tool in the constitutional tool kit to be able to deal with the unfolding and accelerating crisis of presidential power in America today,” says Raskin.
Raskin notes the commission would also be in place if future presidents can no longer serve, but former New Hampshire Republican Sen. Gordon Humphrey urged the New Hampshire congressional delegation this month to support it because Trump is “impaired by a seriously sick psyche.”
Speculation about the president’s mental health has also spawned a cottage industry of psychiatrists and authors opining on his fitness for office.
Yale forensic psychiatrist Bandy Lee is consulting with Democratic members of Congress and other psychiatrists about setting up an expert panel to advise Congress about Trump’s mental health. Lee, who said she is speaking out because of Trump’s “dangerousness,” edited the upcoming book The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, to which 27 mental health professionals contributed.
Psychiatrist Allen Frances, meanwhile, who conceived of the diagnostic definition of narcissistic personality disorder, is coming out next month with his own book, Twilight of American Sanity: A Psychiatrist Analyzes the Age of Trump.
“Narcissistic personality disorder describes a debilitating need to project grandiosity so as to fight the inner feelings of low self-worth,” says Lee, who works internationally on predictors and prevention of violence. “In extreme forms, narcissistic personality disorder is one of the disorders most associated with violence and is sometimes considered to be on the same spectrum as antisocial personality disorder, or sociopathy.”
Trump is prima facie mentally ill. It doesn't take a psychiatrist to make that diagnosis. It is obvious on its face.
4:28 PM - Aug 20, 2017
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FRANCES SAYS HE DOESN’T THINK TRUMP HAS NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER BECAUSE IT HASN’T CAUSED HIM DISTRESS AND IMPAIRMENT. BESIDES, HE SAYS, IT’S VOTERS WHO SHOULD HAVE THE FINAL WORD.
“He’s not going to be defeated by a bunch of mental health workers saying he’s crazy,” says Frances. “The way to defeat him is political.”
Unlike all the emphatic people who were “grieving openly about the terrible loss of life and threat of racism” after Charlottesville, “narcissists care more about being right or promoting a point of view,” says psychiatrist Judith Orloff, author of The Empath’s Survival Guide, which includes a chapter on narcissism.
“If a narcissist is forced to comply with a belief they don’t really have, they will go through the motions of ‘saying the right thing’ but then retract their statement when they have a change,” says Orloff. “Narcissists aren’t open to being told what to do and they will rebel against that.”
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After Trump’s declaration a week before Charlottesville that military action by North Korea would be met with “fire and fury like the world has never seen,” Lee and four other psychiatrists who contributed to her book wrote a letter to all members of Congress.
“It no longer takes a psychiatrist to recognize the alarming patterns of impulsive, reckless, and narcissistic behavior — regardless of diagnosis — that, in the person of President Trump, put the world at risk,” read the letter to Congress. “We now find ourselves in a clear and present danger, especially concerning North Korea and the president’s command of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.”
ony Schwartz, who co-authored Trump’s 1987 book Art of the Deal but then became one of the president’s sharpest critics, had stopped speaking publicly about him in recent months but appeared on MSNBC Sunday and discussed Trump’s narcissism and impulsivity. Schwartz, who runs a human resources consulting firm called the Energy Project, also contributed to Lee’s book. He tweeted Sunday that Trump is “prima facie mentally ill,” noting that one doesn’t need to be a psychiatrist to see it.
Schwartz says he decided to talk about Trump again because of North Korea and Charlottesville.
“I am deeply worried that Trump’s deep deficits and his resulting lack of self—regulation and judgment puts our country and the world at risk of obliteration,” he says.
These may be scary — crazy, even — times, but many psychiatrists including Orloff refuse to comment directly about the president. Some say it’s unethical and unfair to those with mental illness to do anything close to rendering a clinical opinion on a public official’s mental health. The White House seems to agree.
“With all the ‘medical opinions’ out there it’s as if doctors have left their practices due to the Obamacare disaster and are now attempting careers in TV,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement. “This is nothing more than another absurd attempt to attack the President. It did not work during the campaign, and it will not work now. “
THE GOLDWATER RULE
Even so, a leading mental health association is loosening restrictions on some of its members. The American Psychoanalytic Association last month gave members permission to discuss Trump’s mental health publicly without concern for what’s called the Goldwater rule. The psychoanalytic association has psychiatrist members, but also includes psychologists and other types of mental health counselors.
During the 1964 presidential campaign, the magazine Fact published the results of a survey about questions surrounding Republican Sen. Barry Goldwater’s mental health. After losing the race in a historic landslide, Goldwater sued the magazine and won a libel suit, an extremely difficult accomplishment for a public figure. Since then, psychiatrists have generally steered clear of analyzing the mental health of public officials.
“If one has questions about an individual’s public behavior or capacity to govern, it’s incredibly problematic to conflate with a mental illness,” says psychiatrist and Harvard Medical School professor Rebecca Brendel.
DEMOCRATS CONTINUE TO QUESTION TRUMP’S FITNESS FOR OFFICE
Brendel is a consultant to the ethics committee of the American Psychiatric Association, which authored the Goldwater ethics rule. It says psychiatrist members of the American Psychiatric Association shouldn’t offer a “professional opinion” about someone in the public eye … “unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement.”
Doing so when it’s about an individual a psychiatrist hasn’t treated diverges from established treatment methods, which include “careful study of medical history and first-hand examination of the patient,” wrote psychiatrist and APA President Maria Oquendo.
Mental illness and physical illness “are not clearly so separate,” says Brendel, who asserts that a medical assessment is required to make sure any apparent psychiatric symptoms aren’t caused by medical problems.
Lee, who is no longer a member of the psychiatric association, says she respects the Goldwater rule but disagrees with what she says was an “expansion” of the rule issued in March that said a psychiatrist compromises “both the integrity of the psychiatrist and the profession” by offering any public opinions or comments about public officials.
She isn’t making a diagnosis and agrees that doing so “from afar is not only unethical, but impossible.” “I only mention words and behaviors in relation to the president that point to his dangerousness,” says Lee. source
Sources for this article include: SrhNews.com
StevieRay Hansen Investigative Reporter for SrhNews.com and HNewsWire.com
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