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Trump Expose Fire and Fury Becomes a Best-Seller Amid a Firestorm of Furious Controversy

Michael+Wolff%27s+Fire+and+Fury+became+the+number+one+selling+book+on+Amazon+upon+its+release.
Michael Wolff's Fire and Fury became the number one selling book on Amazon upon its release.

Michael Wolff's Fire and Fury became the number one selling book on Amazon upon its release.

Michael Wolff's Fire and Fury became the number one selling book on Amazon upon its release.

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The recent release of Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, a controversial tell-all book by Michael Wolff, has caused an enormous stir in the media and Trump administration. Some people see the book as an entertaining story, and some believe it to be a relatively accurate account of the current White House. Others, though, are outraged and are calling it false and libelous.

Fire and Fury was set to be released on Tuesday, Jan. 9; however, as public clamor grew for the book’s release, The Guardian and New York Magazine published excerpts on Wednesday, Jan. 3. There was immediate and severe backlash from Trump and his administration, piquing the media and public’s interest in the upcoming book.

The following day, Jan. 4, Trump’s personal lawyer Charles Harder sent a cease-and-desist letter to Wolff and his publisher Henry Holt and Company demanding that the book not be published or distributed. The letter claimed that the book was defamatory, libelous, an invasion of privacy, and an interference with contractual relations. Harder’s letter claimed that communications between Steve Bannon (Trump’s former chief strategist and senior counselor) and Wolff supposedly violated a non-disclosure agreement Bannon had with Trump.

But instead of halting publication, the release date was moved up to Friday, Jan. 5 to take advantage of the growing publicity and interest surrounding the book which Wolff attributed to Trump’s attacks against the book. Wolff says Trump’s attempt to prevent the book’s publication boosted sales and validated his account of the president. Wolff even went as far as thanking the president on Twitter. The CEO of Macmillan, the publisher’s parent company, also asserted, “We have never seen a book sell at this rate here at Macmillan.”

The book has proven to be a bestseller, reaching No. 1 on Amazon’s best-selling books chart. It also was ranked first place for both print hardcover sales and combined print and e-book sales on the New York Times list. Interestingly, a decade-old book with a similar title, Fire and Fury: The Allied Bombing of Germany, 1942-1945, has seen a spike in sales as well. This is because eager online customers are mistakenly purchasing the World War II book instead of Wolff’s Fire and Fury.

The first explosive excerpts to grab the media’s attention were concerning Steve Bannon. Bannon was quoted as calling Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower in June 2016 as “treasonous” and “unpatriotic.” He stated, “They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV.” Reportedly, Bannon also believed Jared Kushner (Trump’s son-in-law) to be involved in some “greasy” business that could expose him to money laundering charges.

Fire and Fury is filled with bizarre and salacious accounts of the president and his habits. For instance, according to the book, Trump said that “one of the things that made life worth living” was getting “friends’ wives into bed.” Additionally, it is alleged that Trump has a penchant for being in bed by 6:30 pm “with a cheeseburger, watching his three screens and making phone calls.”

Comedians and late-night hosts, such as Stephen Colbert and Trevor Noah, have been taking advantage of this comedic gold. Noah joked during an episode of The Daily Show, “I wonder if sometimes Trump falls asleep before he eats the cheeseburger and then he gets to wake up with it on his chest and is just like, ‘Oh boy! You waited for me!’” Trump purportedly has a longtime fear of being poisoned, justifying his love for McDonald’s and other fast food because “nobody knew he was coming and the food was safely premade.”

The book also declares that the Trump family was shocked when Donald Trump won the presidency. On election night, Donald Jr. is described as looking “as if he had seen a ghost” and now First Lady Melania Trump as being “in tears – and not of joy.” Trump himself was “befuddled” and “disbelieving.” Overall, Fire and Fury depicts the president as erratic, unintelligent, and at times even childlike. It also alludes to his questionable mental state.

Naturally, these controversial claims have provoked a response from Trump. Following the publication of the first excerpts, Trump was quick to fire back at his former partner Steve Bannon by stating, “Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.”

Trump tried to further discredit Bannon and Wolff with a January 5 tweet: “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.”

In response to doubts about his mental health and stability, Trump tweeted on January 6, “Throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart … I went from VERY successful businessman, to top T.V. Star to President of the United States (on my first try). I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius … and a very stable genius at that!”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has dismissed the book as “trash” and “complete fantasy and full of tabloid gossip.” Trump also asserted that he did not authorize any access to the White House for Wolff, nor did he ever speak to him for the book.

Many Americans are wondering if Michael Wolff’s book is credible, or in fact mere “trash.” Wolff is a New York columnist who has worked in the media industry for decades. He is long known to be controversial, quite gossipy, and unafraid to take on prominent figures. However, the editor’s note in Fire and Fury states that Wolff conducted 200 interviews over the course of 18 months to write his book.

Wolff also claims that he had a three hour conversation with the president. Gregory Korte of USA Today explains how Wolff obtained his fly-on-the-wall access by writing, “Armed with a blue ‘appointment’ badge from the Secret Service… he walked into the West Wing and, he says, took up semi-permanent residence on a couch in the lobby, where he could see the daily interactions of top players in the Trump White House. … The White House now says that it was Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, who signed off on most of Wolff’s access.”

At least some of the book seems to be proven true. Most notably, Bannon never denied any of the quotes attributed to him. Nevertheless, Wolff’s sourcing is dubious at times. Typos and other inaccuracies have been found in Fire and Fury. Wolff acknowledges that the staffers he interviewed often provided differentiating stories, writing in the book’s introduction, “Many of the accounts of what has happened in the Trump White House are in conflict with one another; many, in Trumpian fashion, are baldly untrue.”

Vox’s Andrew Prokop provides perhaps the best advice for potential readers of Fire and Fury: “If the quotations directly quote people telling him things and identify them, they are probably accurate. (That doesn’t necessarily mean what these sources are saying is accurate, but the quotes themselves are probably right.) … As the sourcing grows hazier, you should probably add grains of salt accordingly.”

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Trump Expose Fire and Fury Becomes a Best-Seller Amid a Firestorm of Furious Controversy