Which underscores what has been, for me, the most revelatory aspect of Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury, and the conversation it sparked: Here was Trump being made to face the full brunt of reality-TV access. For all the book’s political accusations, there’s a lot more depicting Trump as increasingly unhinged or pathetic. There’s the anecdote that he and his wife Melania don’t share a bed, and the speculation about the state of his sex life. There’s an image in the book of him eating cheeseburgers alone in bed that offers readers the chance to judge both his loneliness and his weight—not unlike what happens to reality stars.
Fire and Fury was just one convenient occasion around which to organize the glee some derive from referring to the president in a tone that resembles Real Housewives–esque gossip. When Trump fired Rex Tillerson, it brought up the chance for observers to speculate that he did so because Tillerson once reportedly called him “a fucking moron.” And just a couple of months ago, there was a widely circulated photo of Trump’s hair caught in an unflattering breeze, which led to a slew of internet jokes; Vogue pointed out that the attention must have stung Trump, since he remained uncharacteristically silent on the subject. And, more recently, who could forget Stormy Daniels’s claims of Trump asking to be spanked with a Forbes issue that bore his face on the cover?
The personal shaming has been mounting for more than a year now. Consider Trump defending his own mental capacity, providing any critic with the evergreen taunt of “stable genius.” And during the 2016 campaign, Trump interrupted a debate to defend the size of his hands—a topic that had bizarrely come into the spotlight at the time.