The recent release of Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury”—a tell-all account of the inner workings of President Donald Trump’s administration— recently sparked discussion on Oklahoma Christian University’s campus.
Publisher Henry Holt and Company began distributing copies of Fire and Fury to customers ahead of schedule Jan. 5, ignoring a cease-and-desist letter sent by lawyers representing Trump. Over one million hard and e-text copies have since sold worldwide, with many retailers reporting widespread shortages of the $30 hard-copy edition.
Best of Books in Edmond said they sold out of the book quickly and received numerous calls regarding its availability on its release date.
Wolff—a journalist by trade who claims to have interviewed over 200 Washington elites and gained inside access to the Trump administration—portrays Trump in a negative light throughout the book.
According to an anonymous source interviewed by Wolff, Trump once said sleeping with his friend’s wives made “life worth living.” Another source said Trump was “horrified” after learning he won the election, because he expected defeat. In several public statements made via Twitter, Trump denied the authenticity of these claims and questioned the credibility of Wolff.
Sophomore Turner Smith said he has followed the media coverage of “Fire and Fury” closely over the past couple of weeks. According to Smith, it would be easier to believe Wolff’s claims had he more carefully cited his sources.
“There are a lot of times where he recounts the story, but really does not tell how he got it,” Smith said. “It leaves you wondering, ‘Was he there? Did Trump tell him? Did Ivanka tell him? Did a staffer tell him?’ I would not be surprised if most of it were true, but I take it with a grain of salt.”
Political Science and History Professor James Crowder said he was skeptical of the book’s accuracy and the motives of Wolff. He said he believed the book was written to make money, not to tell an accurate story of Trump’s first year in the White House.
“One thing [Wolff] said was he interviewed 200 people and 100 percent of them said Trump was unfit for office,” Crowder said. “I do not think you can ever get 200 people to agree on anything.”
A common criticism of “Fire and Fury” from both sides of the political spectrum has been its abundance of spelling, factual and grammatical errors. Politifact discovered several dates of public officials entering and leaving office were incorrect, and words such as “public” were misspelled.
“From a business standpoint, I understand why they pushed for an early release, because it was getting so much press,” Smith said. “But from a credibility sense, you want a refined piece to be out there. When you have things like spelling errors and lack of sources, it makes your work look unprofessional.”
Despite these errors, Wolff defended his book’s authenticity in an interview with the “Today” show, saying he had proof to back up the claims he put forth.
“I work like every journalist works, so I have recordings and notes,” Wolff said. “I am absolutely, in every way, comfortable with everything I’ve reported in this book.”
Trump made history earlier this month when he became the first sitting president to threaten legal action against a publisher of a book. According to online legal resource Nolo.com, Trump’s chances of winning a case against the publisher would be exceptionally difficult. Trump and his legal team would have to prove the claims are false and injurious, and the defendant acted with actual malice.
“I think Trump forgot he’s now a public figure, and you can hardly ever prove libel as a public figure,” Crowder said.