‘Fire and Fury’ appears to be the book the entire world is waiting for.
The book that claims Mr Donald Trump is unfit for office has shot to the top of Amazon’s and Barnes and Noble’s bestseller lists, helped by the US President’s threats of legal action against author Michael Wolff, reports STRAITIMES.
Fire And Fury: Inside The Trump White House was released four days ahead of schedule amid strong demand, thought it will only ship in two to four weeks, according to Amazon. Barnes and Noble said the book was “temporarily out of stock” on its website, reported CBS News.
An independent bookseller in Washington sold out of the book in less than 20 minutes, according to BuzzFeed, while book wholesale distributor Ingram Content Group was also out of stock.
Speaking on the Today show, Mr Wolff called the administration’s attempt to block the book “extraordinary” and dismissed the President’s criticisms of him out of hand.
“My credibility is being questioned by a man who has less credibility than perhaps anyone who has ever walked on Earth at this point,” Mr Wolff said, according to The New York Times.
In a tweet on Friday, Mr Trump said: “Michael Wolff is a total loser who made up stories in order to sell this really boring and untruthful book. He used Sloppy Steve Bannon, who cried when he got fired and begged for his job. Now Sloppy Steve has been dumped like a dog by almost everyone. Too bad!”
Mr Wolff countered by saying that he had absolutely spoken to the President and had done so after the inauguration.
“Whether he realised it was an interview or not, I don’t know, but it certainly was not off the record,” he said.
(President Trump has since denied speaking with Wolff anytime. He expressed this a tweet thus:
Wolff said that, cumulatively, he had spent about three hours with the President during the campaign and in the White House.
“What was I doing there if he didn’t want me to be there?” he asked.
Excerpts from Fire And Fury began to appear online earlier this week, leading to a break between Mr Trump and his one-time chief strategist, Mr Stephen Bannon, who is quoted in the book calling Mr Donald Trump Jr’s actions during the campaign “treasonous” and “unpatriotic” and insulting Ms Ivanka Trump.
The White House has characterised the book as a “complete fantasy” full of “tabloid gossip”, but it is not only the administration that has questioned Mr Wolff’s reporting. Some journalists have also expressed scepticism and pointed to past criticism of Mr Wolff’s work.
In 2004, The New Republic said the scenes in his columns “aren’t re-created so much as created – springing from Wolff’s imagination rather than from actual knowledge of events”.
Others have said that the book, while filled with new and lurid details, corroborates previous reporting about the Trump White House.
Mr Wolff chose to sidestep broader questions about his credibility on Today, claiming that he had written “millions” of words in his career and had never received a correction.
Instead, he kept his attention fixed on a president whose opposition to his book has only heightened its profile.
Asked how he felt about the President’s attempt to keep the book off shelves, Mr Wolff quipped, “Where do I send the box of chocolates?”
Here are six things about the 64-year-old Wolff:
1. Who is he?
Wolff is a regular columnist for USA Today, Vanity Fair, Hollywood Reporter, British GQ, New York Magazine and the Guardian, according to his Twitter profile.
Based in New York City, he is also the founder of Newser, a news aggregation website that was started in late 2007.
He was married to lawyer Alison Anthoine, but the couple began divorce proceedings in 2009. They have three children.
That year, he started dating freelance writer Victoria Floethe, 36. Floethe was formerly an intern at Vanity Fair, where Wolff was contributing editor.
2. What is his latest book about?
Fire And Fury: Inside The Trump White House has been touted as the “first tell-all of the Trump presidency” by CNN.
It was written after Wolff conducted 200 interviews and spent several months in the White House at the start of the Trump administration.
In the book, Trump is depicted as presiding over a chaotic White House, struggling to settle into his new reality and eagerly trying to maintain his normal golf habits.
The book’s publisher is Henry Holt & Company.
3. His other works
Wolff is the author of six other books, including a biography on media mogul Rupert Murdoch titled The Man Who Owns The News.
The book, published in 2009, was based on nine months of conversation with Murdoch.
In 1998, he wrote the bestseller Burn Rate, which tells the story of the rise and fall of the early search engine company he founded in the early 1990s.
4. He is no stranger to controversies
Wolff has ruffled a few feathers throughout his career. Just before The Man Who Owns the News was published, Murdoch reportedly took issue with parts of the book, where he was supposedly painted in an unflattering light.
In November 2016, Wolff said in an interview with the Digiday podcast that a significant part of a journalist’s job is to simply be “stenographers” by relaying what is said to the public and nothing more.
His critique, directed at journalists covering the US presidential election, received strong backlash online.
In February 2017, he criticised the media in an interview with CNN for “having a nervous breakdown” while covering Trump.
Already, Wolff has attracted comments that some quotes in his book were fabricated. For instance, he wrote that Thomas Barrack Jr, a billionaire friend of Trump’s, told a friend that Trump is “not only crazy, he’s stupid.”
But Barrack, speaking to The New York Times on Wednesday (Jan 3), denied ever saying such a thing.
5. His awards and accolades
Wolff has received two National Magazine Awards and four nominations, according to his profile on Newser.
One of the awards was for a series of columns he wrote while in the Persian Gulf at the start of the Iraq War in 2003.
The awards recognise excellence in the magazine industry in both print and digital mediums.
6. He was the editor of Adweek – briefly
Wolff left his post as editorial director of media trade magazine Adweek in October 2011, less than a year after his appointment was announced.
During his stint, he tried to gear the publication towards more consumer-facing media coverage, but the move was met with some doubts.
Sources: The New York Times, CNN, Adweek.com, Newser