The net result is that “Fire and Fury” has so thoroughly succeeded in lowering public expectations for Trump that it makes it that much easier for him to exceed them. If the White House were smart it would tweet photos of Trump reading Dean Acheson’s “Present at the Creation” looking deeply engrossed. That should inspire a half-dozen Washington Times columns on how the press used to think Reagan and Eisenhower were boobs, too.
That’s not all the damage Wolff has done. The president often misuses the term “fake news,” typically by treating every media mistake as evidence of willful and systematic mendacity. This may be enough to bamboozle his ardent supporters, even if the rest of us understand the distinction.
In “Fire and Fury,” however, Trump really does have something resembling fake news. The book is replete with casual errors of fact. Invidious stories are unsourced or unverifiable or, on close inspection, simply nonsensical. It was written with white-hot venom. The book’s only truly credible voice, if credible is the right word, is the peerlessly self-serving Steve Bannon.