When Fire and Fury author Michael Wolff appeared on The View Wednesday morning, the hosts were eager to heap praise on him for exposing President Donald Trump as a very unstable non-genius. But there was an exception, and it came from the show’s newest co-host, Meghan McCain.
“You know, Michael, your credibility is being questioned,” McCain said at the top of his second roundtable segment. As she began to quote Trump’s criticisms of the book, Wolff cut her off, saying, “Let’s remember who my credibility is being questioned by.”
But as McCain pointed out, it’s not just Trump calling his journalistic tactics into question.
She listed off The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman, Jonathan Martin and David Brooks, along with Tony Blair and Anna Wintour as those who have disputed parts of the book. She could have also added Stephen Colbert, who gave Wolff a pretty strong grilling earlier in the week and CNN’s Jake Tapper, who called both Trump and Wolff “unreliable narrators.”
“I regret mixing up Mike Berman and Mark Berman,” Wolff told her, acknowledging one of the frequently cited errors in the book. “The Berman brothers have my apologies,” he added, trying to make the conversation jokey.
But McCain wasn’t having it, telling Wolff that the book “hits a special place” for her because she had a similar experience when Game Change, John Heilemann and Mark Halperin’s book about her father’s failed 2008 campaign, was released.
Wolff defended himself, specifically against criticisms from the Times, by saying they are “apoplectic” because he “scooped” them. “We’re all journalists, and this is what we do,” he said.
“I’m not saying they’re not idiots for, honestly, letting you around and giving you that kind of access,” McCain said of Steve Bannon and Roger Ailes, who are quoted prolifically in the book, “because, quite frankly, if you had invited me to your house at any point before this book I would have said, ‘Hell no, of course not,’ I don’t go to journalists’ house and start dishing about anything private in the political circles I’m in.”
Asked if his infamous dinner party with Ailes and Bannon was “off-the-record,” Wolff admitted that is was, prompting McCain to say, “This is why people hate journalists, by the way, this is why I don’t believe in the concept of off-the-record.”
But, as Wolff explained, after Ailes died, he decided that the nature of his off-the-record comments died with him. As for Bannon’s comments at that dinner, he claimed that the now-former Breitbart chief gave him special permission to put them back on the record, because they now represented “history.”
McCain has had major problems with Wolff’s book from the moment excerpts started to appear across the media.
“Giving [Wolff] the kind of access, when he is shadowing the president, talking to the top staffers for 18 months, is not only unprecedented, but it is suicide and insanity,” she said on The View late last week. “The only thing I can come up with right now, is that Steve Bannon is trying to take Trump out from the inside.”