Michael Wolff, embraced by the #resistance for his questionably-sourced book Fire and Fury, which documented the tumultuous first year of the Trump administration, has proved yet again that he’s actually just as craven as the man at the center of his “reporting.”
On Thursday morning, Morning Joe host Mika Brzezinski tossed Wolff off her MSNBC show after he denied having pushed rumors that President Trump is having an affair with UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, a lie he has shamelessly pushed in the wake of his book release. Wolff first insinuated as much on Real Time with Bill Maher last month. In an interview with Maher, Wolff said Trump was having an affair right now, but that he didn’t have enough information about it to put it in his book.
“You just have to read between the lines,” Wolff said. “Now that I’ve told you, when you hit that paragraph, you’ll say bingo.”
And, as Megan Garber outlined in The Atlantic Thursday morning, America’s private eyes began searching for that paragraph and decided: He was talking about Haley. He had to be.
Haley was forced to publicly deny the speculation, but Wolff couldn’t let it go. On Wednesday, he told TheSkimm that Haley had “embraced” the rumor. And then, one day later on Morning Joe, Wolff denied ever having propagated the lie at all.
“I didn’t go after her,” Wolff said, when he was asked about having pushed the rumors about the affair, “and secondly, what I certainly … meant was I found it puzzling that she would deny something she was not accused of.”
Asked if he regretted having inferred Haley was having an affair, Wolff denied ever having done so — despite having done so — saying, “I didn’t infer anything about Nikki Haley. What I inferred was that … many of the people around the president believe he is still involved with various women.”
Brzezinski wasn’t having it.
“I’m going to go as far as to say you might be having a fun time playing a little game dancing around this, but you’re slurring a woman. It’s disgraceful,” Brzezinski said.
Wolff continued to protest his innocence, saying, “[Haley] has been accused of nothing. She has decided to deny what she’s not been accused of. Certainly I didn’t accuse her of this.”
Brzezinski asked if he was kidding, adding, “You’re on the set of ‘Morning Joe,’ we don’t BS here,” which is not true, but mostly beside the point, and then she kicked him off as he stammered.
“If you don’t get it, if you don’t get what we’re talking about, I’m sorry, this is awkward, you’re here on the set with us, but we’re done,” she said. “Michael Wolff, thank you, we’re gonna go to break now.”
Wolff, charmer that he is, decided to take to Twitter, claiming he was forced to say what he said by Brzezinski and then she kicked him off anyway.
“My bad,” Wolff tweeted, “the President is right about Mika.”
Trump has used his platform to say a number of nasty things about Bzezinski, calling her “low I.Q. Crazy Mika” and saying she was “bleeding badly from a face-lift” in a series of tweets last June.
Wolff went on like this for a while, continuing to argue that Haley is denying an affair she was never accused of, even though she was definitely accused of it.
Also, can someone tell Wolff how to thread his tweets?
Wolff also claimed that Brzezinski and her co-host and husband Joe Scarborough are eager gossips and began retweeting people defending him.
Brzezinski didn’t have much to say following the ordeal. Her only comments so far have come on Twitter, where she retweeted CBS News correspondent Bianna Golodryga saying “personally attacking fellow journalists is not ok,” and complimenting Brzezinski as “fair and respected,” adding, “Thank you.”
The important thing, beyond the juicy drama of early morning MSNBC talk news, is that it’s an important reminder that Wolff has a lot in common with the president he writes about: flexible ethics and an insatiable desire for attention.
There are materially bad things happening in the world, and some people who are engaged in revealing the bad things Trump and those around him are doing are mostly interested for their own gain. Wolff is one of those people, and him and others like him have outsized influence in the public sphere. His book revealed some new information but when the media spotlight began to fade, he was more than willing to engage in rumor and innuendo. This cheap, tawdry, wild-eyed approach reinforces the smears Trump levels daily against the news media, who are mostly obsessed with accuracy and toiling in obscurity.
You don’t have to listen to him or have him on your television show.