Ashes After “Fire and Fury”

by Briana Lao, Co-Editor in Chief of Content

“Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” was published on Jan. 5 by Michael Wolff, an author and journalist. Because the book faced backlash and President Donald Trump tried to stop the publication of the book altogether, the book was released four days earlier than its previously scheduled date, Jan. 9.

“[Publishing the book] is not inappropriate, there’s nothing wrong with it,” senior Jonathan Lee said. “From a completely neutral standpoint, I think there’s nothing wrong with it. In terms of whether or not defamation is a thing, I don’t think so, but he has really good lawyers and they might be able to make a case for defamation.”

Wolff claims to have written the book off of observations he made while in the White House, with permission of Trump. However, Trump has refuted all of Wolff’s claims, tweeting that he “authorized Zero access to White House” and the book is “full of lies, misrepresentations and sources that don’t exist.”

“As you read a book like that, you just have to consider, ‘Is the author biased in any way?’” AP Government teacher Linda Bowers said. “‘What’s his background? What are other people saying about it?’ But [with] this type of book, you have to use your own judgement.”

Following the publication of “Fire and Fury,” concerns over Trump’s mental ability to preside over the White House surfaced. On Jan. 13, Trump underwent a four-hour physical and mental examination, the results of which the White House physician said proved Trump to be in “excellent” health.

“Psych is a prerequisite to policy-making, so a [mental] analysis is at least warranted,” Lee said.

The timing and relevance of the book release is another question being raised.

“It’s not a book that is giving us a lot of information as voters and as citizens,” Bowers said. “This is a president who’s in his first year. I would’ve expected a book outlining what’s going on in the White House to have taken a little bit more research and time. Maybe at the end of a presidency, at the end of the first term, or something like that.”

However, others believe that the book allows citizens make their own judgements on the current inhabitants of the White House.

“I think this discourse that’s sprang about the book itself and the conversation of Trump is important,” Lee said. “I think it’s important for us to indict the culture and the political-social-economic implications that Trump is probably going to do with his own administration, through this book, [but] please make sure whatever decision you make is well-informed, try to be inclusive of everyone’s opinion, whatever background they come from.”

Because debates surrounding the book and its validity continue to be argued, readers are left with the responsibility of consuming media at their own discretion and forming their own opinions.

“It might be great information, it may be totally factual, but there’s no way to know for sure with so many different sides and so many different sources saying either or and giving their own opinions,” Bowers said. “You have to read it and use your own judgement as to whether or not you think it’s a reputable source or not. Listen to things in the future and [see] if anything comes out that disputes it, or anything comes out that confirms it. That’s all we can do at this point.”