Michael Wolff of The Hollywood Reporter made a stop on CNN's Reliable Sources this morning to scold Washington, DC reporters for being too mean to Donald Trump. Wolff had some special advice for host Brian Stelter, who has done a respectable job of holding media accountable for how they're covering this president without tilting toward one side or the other.
Michael Wolff is a reliable fluffer for Donald Trump and has been from the beginning, so you should assume what he says here is as surrogate for Trump on the cable network Trump criticizes most. Never mind that even high-profile Republican consultants are sounding the alarms.
Instead, Wolff is convinced the media is "at war with Trump," pointing to Twitter to prove it. Even when Stelter tried to suggest the real war is with "lying and falsehoods," Wolff would have no part of it.
"At the center of this is this new grail that we have is, how are we going to take this guy down," he claimed.
Stelter then read this passage from Wolff's latest scold against media in Newsweek.
The media strategy is to show Trump to be an inept and craven sociopath. The Trump strategy is to show that media people are hopeless prigs out of touch with the nation (e.g., CNN’s media correspondent, Brian Stelter, who turns to the camera every Sunday morning and delivers a pious sermon about Trump’s perfidiousness) and nursing personal grudges.
"Do you feel that my style is wrong or my substance is wrong?," asked Stelter.
Wolff then told the one media critic who has, for the most part, been even-handed with the media that while he means no disrespect, "I think you can border on being sort of quite a ridiculous figure."
Because it's all about appearances. Wolff continued his scold, telling Stelter the media shouldn't be the story but Stelter makes them the story. I'm sure Trump's constant excoriation of media outlets has nothing to do with that.
Continuing the scold, Wolff claimed, "The New York Times front page looks like it's 1938 in Germany every day," which brought laughter and a correction from Stelter.
Compare and contrast that exchange with Stelter's later interview of Roger Simon, who is retiring as head political reporter at Politico. Simon had far more pointed criticisms of Trump and the coverage he has received.
STELTER: Do you think it's the job of journalists to be stopping the president? Is that what you're saying?
SIMON: I don't mean they ought to hit him over the head with a bottle. They ought to do what some of them are now doing which is checking the truth. Dividing the truth from fiction, pointing out how ridiculous some of his -- almost all of his statements are. Overall, his personality is just that of a big baby.
STELTER: You would have been saying the coverage is not tough enough, not critical enough.
SIMON: I don't think it has been. I think it's getting there if we don't grow bored. It's only three weeks in.
SIMON: I'm already a little bored with this. How long is this story going to last? Forever, quite possibly. Monica Lewinsky lasted every day for more than a year. I guess this one will too.
I really think we haven't examined fully -- after the Nixon era we all promised we were going to take harder look at the personalities of these men and women who wanted to be president. How hard a look did we really take at Donald Trump besides the usual personality profile?
How much did we really print about the guy, know about the guy, find out about the guy?
I'm willing to say had we done all of it, the result still might have been the same.
Let's keep in mind his opponent got two million more votes than he did. You can hardly ask Hillary Clinton to do better than that.
We're locked in a terrible system that produces presidents that the public does not want.
Roger Simon is absolutely right. Trump got a free ride all the way through the election with lots of free coverage and little close scrutiny. Now he's under the microscope because everything he does affects all of us as citizens. Imagine if they had done that before we all had to suffer the consequences.
As for Michael Wolff, might I suggest he go back to The Hollywood Reporter and cover celebrity marriages and divorces instead of politics? He's clueless.