It’s easy to miss some dramatic differences between the Trump years and the Biden years. Take, for example, the “tell-all books,” either written by journalists who are granted access to insiders or books written by the insiders themselves.
By this time in the Trump term — the summer of 2019 — we were 18 months into “tell-all season.” But no Biden insiders are writing a “tell-all book.” We’re not counting memoirs by the family — by Hunter Biden, or Hunter’s ex-wife, Kathleen, or the president’s sister, Valerie. We’re talking about hypernegative books.
There seem to be two books by journalists with some internal detail. Politico reporter Ben Schreckinger wrote “The Bidens,” which came out in September 2021, to almost zero TV attention.
In January, Chris Whipple came out with a book titled “The Fight of His Life: Inside Joe Biden’s White House.” But he wasn’t a hostile author. For example, he appeared on the PBS NewsHour and proclaimed Biden was hitting his stride: “I think he goes into his third year really with the wind at his back.”
It’s nothing like the huzzahs and the hootenanny in January 2018 for Michael Wolff’s first Trump tell-all, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.” Every trashy tale he told was treated as golden. On “Hardball,” host Chris Matthews touted all Wolff’s unproven gossip as superfactual. “We can argue around the edges, but the facts are like giant blocks of reality.”
But it wasn’t. Wolff claimed that Thomas Barrack Jr., a billionaire friend of Trump’s, told a friend that Trump is “not only crazy, he’s stupid.” Barrack denied he ever said it. Katie Walsh, a former White House adviser, also disputed a comment attributed to her by Wolff: dealing with Trump was “like trying to figure out what a child wants.”
On NBC’s “Today,” anchor Savannah Guthrie put Wolff on the air noting that he claimed “everyone around the president, senior advisers, family members, every single one of them questions his intelligence and fitness for office.” Wolff eagerly doubled down: “Let me put a marker in the sand here — 100% of the people around him!”
Including his family?
In August 2018, the media exploded again to promote a book by “insider” Omarosa, a former contestant of Trump’s on “The Apprentice” who became an adviser. In her book “Unhinged,” she claimed that a long-rumored tape of Trump using the N-word on the set of “The Apprentice” existed. She wrote that her hunt for the tape was the reason for her unceremonious firing in December 2017, but then admitted that she had never actually heard the alleged tape.
Omarosa spoke sweet nothings into media ears: “I was complicit with this White House deceiving this nation. They continue to deceive this nation (about) how mentally declined he is, how difficult it is for him to process complex information, how he is not engaged in some of the most important decisions that impact our country.” This was about Trump, not Biden.
In September 2018 came the Big Kahuna, Bob Woodward of The Washington Post, with “Fear.” Woodward quoted former chief of staff John Kelly calling Trump an “idiot” in “crazytown” and former Defense Secretary John Mattis saying Trump had the understanding of “a fifth or sixth-grader.” Both men denied those statements were real.
But don’t get picky. If you hate Trump, your credibility never buckles. Chris Matthews marveled over all these books, comparing them to the Bible. “At the risk of blasphemy, all these authors do have sort of a rhyming aspect to them like the synoptic gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke.”
Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org. To find out more about Tim Graham and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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