There’s really only one thing you can learn for sure from yesterday’s media flogging of Bob Woodward’s new hatchet-job book on the Trump Administration: if you have a well-deserved reputation as an untrustworthy fabulist, just say a lot of nasty things about Donald Trump, and the media will immediately declare you to be a journalistic icon and unimpeachable source. And these days, they think everything is a reason to impeach somebody.
Pardon me if I don’t pollute my newsletter with some of the ridiculous tales in Woodward’s book, but we’ve already been down this rabbit hole twice already, and I’m sick of getting mud on my shoes. First we had Michael Wolff’s bundle of nonsense, then Omarosa’s, and now, Woodward’s. All three were filled with shocking accusations and quotes about Trump and his staffers. Well, the media claimed they were shocking, although I have a hard time thinking Trump is paranoid if he really did grouse, as the Woodward book claims, “Everybody’s trying to get me” (can anyone seriously argue that they’re not?); or that he got angry during a rehearsal for potential questioning by Robert Mueller and ranted, “This thing is a (bleep) hoax!” (I believe that would make most people like him more.) The rest might actually be shocking if it weren’t just the same-old/same-old easy confirmation of all the left’s favorite anti-Trump memes, with the people quoted denying that they ever said anything like that and the records of schedules, meeting notes, etc., contradicting the claims.
I won’t quote the nasty things Woodward claims Chief of Staff John Kelly said about President Trump, since you can see them on a continuous tape loop on MSNBC and CNN, but here’s Kelly’s response that won’t get nearly as much air time:
“The idea I ever called the President an idiot is not true. As I stated back in May and I still firmly stand behind: ‘I spend more time with the President than anyone else, and we have an incredibly candid and strong relationship. He always knows where I stand, and he and I both know this story is total BS. I’m committed to the President, his agenda, and our country. This is another pathetic attempt to smear people close to President Trump and distract from the administration’s many successes.”
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It also took only hours for others who were quoted as making insulting comments about Trump or his staff to deny that they ever said any such thing. For instance, Defense Secretary James “Maddog” Mattis said, “The contemptuous words about the President attributed to me in Woodward’s book were never uttered by me or in my presence...While I generally enjoy reading fiction, this is a uniquely Washington brand of literature, and his anonymous sources do not lend credibility.” Frankly, I find it hard to believe Mattis would ever say such things about his Commander-in-Chief, and impossible to believe that anyone would dare say such things in his presence.
As to how Woodward obtained these alleged direct quotes from inside private meetings attended only by people who would never talk to him in a million years, who can say? He claims they’re all deep sources who talked to him off the record, but I’d guess a Ouija board were more likely, even though for once, his subjects aren’t dead and unable to defend themselves. As a reminder of what I mean, Woodward’s questionable history includes infuriating the late John Belushi’s family and fans with his book “Wired,” which was described by one critic as taking incidents so far out of context that it was like reading a book about Michael Jordan that made you think he wasn’t a very good basketball player. Or his infamous “deathbed” quotes from former CIA Director William Casey, at a time when he was no longer able to communicate (Ronald Reagan wrote of that book that Woodward is "a liar and he lied about what Casey is supposed to have thought of me.” And unlike some people, I’m quoting something Reagan said BEFORE he died.)
I’m sure my skepticism of these grim fairy tales about the Trump White House will be dismissed by the media figures who gobble up anything that slams Trump like an ice cream sundae. They’ll say I’m skeptical of these allegations because I’m biased. No, they’re credulous of these allegations because they’re biased. I’m skeptical because that’s how everyone, especially professional journalists, should treat any shocking allegation from anyone who can’t verify his quotes or name his sources. And a background of hobnobbing with the DC deep state is hardly an indication of someone having any sources close to Trump.
I also have a couple of resources the anti-Trump media and muckraking book writers don’t have:
1. Trump will actually talk to me. I traveled with him during the 2016 campaign, watching him outwork exhausted aides half his age. I’ve had private meetings with him myself, to discuss a job in the Administration (I didn’t accept, but only because I wanted to do other things.) Since then, Trump has sat down for interviews with me. I found him articulate, well-informed, and very firm on what he wanted to accomplish. If he’s a raving idiot, an angry baby or a dementia victim who can’t string three words together, as claimed, he sure does a darn good job of hiding it in front of my TV cameras and at those live televised rallies where he speaks extemporaneously to thousands of people for an hour at a stretch.
2. I actually have some real sources on his staff, and I feel pretty sure that if it were that bad, I would have heard about it by now. One of my contacts in particular doesn’t suffer fools gladly and is perfectly capable of finding another job. I think if she ever gets tired enough of dealing with hostile, childish behavior in her workplace to leave, it won’t be because of such behavior from her boss but from the media covering him.