Last month, author Michael Wolff nearly ruined the good thing he had going by insinuating, absent any evidence, that Nikki Haley was having an affair with President Trump. At the Washington Post, Erik Wemple points out Wolff has finally backed off that claim:
After several minutes of interrogation about a central drama surrounding his new book, Michael Wolff said this: “I will just clean this up. . . . I do not know if the president is having an affair.” Those comments came in an interview Thursday with Twan Huys of the Dutch TV show “College Tour.”…
The “College Tour” interview, however, which hasn’t yet aired, appeared to discomfit the author. Again and again, Huys pushed Wolff to reconcile how his multimedia stunt — using the book and the Maher interview to cook up an allegation — could be reconciled with journalism class. Asked if he regretted his remark on Maher’s show, Wolff said, “I did not make any remark. I only said that I believe the president, in all likelihood, is involved with someone. And that reflects the gossip in the White House and whether true or not, I don’t know, which is why it is not in the book.”
An audience member stated that “implying” that a woman is having an affair wounds her reputation. To which Wolff replied, “Let me say this as directly as I can. Let’s go right through anybody’s thick skull. I did not — I do not know who Donald Trump is having an affair with, okay?”
Wolff is once again acting as if he isn’t the person who started this rumor, but he suggested it was true on Real Time with Bill Maher [NSFW language warning]:
After that interview, people immediately went to the book and concluded Trump was having an affair with Nikki Haley. Haley denied that in every way possible at the time, not only saying it didn’t happen but adding that the claims Wolff makes about her time alone with Trump were provably false.
Wolff’s insinuation offended nearly everyone, including women on the left who saw it as an attack on a successful woman tantamount to claiming she’s slept her way to the top. Even the NY Times had an opinion piece trashing Wolff over the claim.
When he was confronted with Haley’s denial by interviewers at theSkimm Wolff doubled down. “She seems to me — I would say she seems to have embraced it,” he said. He continued, “All she does is hammer on this fact. I mean, if I were being accused of something, and I am not accusing her of anything. She hasn’t tried to avoid this, let’s say.” This obviously doesn’t make any sense at all. Denying a charge is not embracing it. But Wolff seemed angry at being challenged.
All of this reached a boiling point earlier this month when Wolff came on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, probably expecting another breezy interview that would help him sell books. Instead, he was taken to task over his insinuation. Wolff tried, once again, to play it off as if he hadn’t accused anyone of anything. But host Mika Brzezinki wasn’t having it and kicked him off the show:
Wolff responded by…attacking another woman who had disagreed with him:
My bad, the President is right about Mika.
— Michael Wolff (@MichaelWolffNYC) February 1, 2018
So now, nearly a month later, it seems Wolff is finally admitting he doesn’t have anything to back up the insinuation he made on Real Time. Of course, he probably assumes most people in the US won’t see this appearance on Dutch TV, so there’s no telling if this change of heart will carry over when he resumes interviews on American TV.