Nikki Haley, Michael Wolff and the Liar's Paradox

So, Nikki Haley has been hit by scandal-monger Michael Wolff. According to Wolff, Nikki Haley got her job because she had an affair with Donald Trump.

This isn’t the first time Haley has been the subject of this. Back when she was running for governor a louche, oleaginous slob who runs a political blog in South Carolina claimed he’d carried on a torrid affair with her. One look at the pictures of the two made it clear that if it were true that Haley was visually impaired and probably bereft of a sense of touch. And it certainly wasn’t the cretin’s bank book that attracted her.

I can’t imagine there haven’t been other similar rumors about her because that is one way that people go about cutting down a successful woman. As an aside, the main practitioners of this have, in my experience, been other women, but that is a different story.

Now, just last week Michael Wolff had a book titled Fire and Fury published. In the preface, Wolff has this to say about his book:

“Many of the accounts of what has happened in the Trump White House are in conflict with one another; many, in Trumpian fashion, are baldly untrue. These conflicts, and that looseness with the truth, if not with reality itself, are an elemental thread of the book.

“Sometimes I have let the players offer their versions, in turn allowing the reader to judge them. In other instances I have, through a consistency in the accounts and through sources I have come to trust, settled on a version of events I believe to be true.”

For a couple of weeks, Wolff’s revelations dominated network and cable news. Nevermind that a lot of people said the events he described didn’t happen. Nevermind, that in some cases, it was physically impossible for them to happen. The stories were still told and discussed as if they were true.

This brings us to the Liar’s Paradox. Michael Wolff has made a career as a liar. Often his lies are amusing and harmless. Sometimes they are damaging and hurtful. As Wolff makes clear in his own preface, the truth and veracity of a statement are totally dependent upon whether he thinks it is truthful. And by “truthful” I’m pretty sure he means salacious enough to get him attention and money.

If you were flogging Wolff’s stories about the inner workings of the Trump administration this presents a dilemma. You’ve already acceded to Wolff’s standard of believing what he believes to be truthful is, in fact, truthful, and the Haley story meets that standard. More to the point, if you truly believe what he is saying about Haley is a malicious lie, then how do you, with any confidence, believe anything in his book?

Of course, that is a rhetorical question. It is very easy to do both if you are willing to tell any lie that will perhaps damage Trump, or his inner circle, or his administration, because the end justifies the means, and you will fluff Wolff’s book. At the same time, you’ll recognize the Haley story for the egregious lie that it is and be offended. And because the undergirding principle is a dislike of Trump and not a respect for truth, it won’t bother you a bit.