Last week, smut merchant and raconteur Michael Wolff floated an obnoxious rumor about US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. According to Wolff, Haley got her position because she was having an affair with Donald Trump.
.@MichaelWolffNYC on Trump and Nikki Haley: "She had become a particular focus of Trump's attention, and he of hers….The president had been spending a notable amount of private time with Haley on Air Force One, and was seen to be grooming her for a national political future."
— Carlos Lozada (@CarlosLozadaWP) January 5, 2018
What was so bizarre about the incident was not that Wolff’s story was as close to patently fictitious as you can get or that he was behaving like Central Casting had sent over a high-strung delusional gay guy to play the role of a gossip peddler trying to knock down the reputation of a strong and independent woman. No, what was certifiably strange was that many of the same people who’d spent the past couple of weeks breathlessly retelling stories from Wolff’s “Fire and Fury” were now incensed that the man was lying to damage an innocent person’s reputation. You can read about the whole incident in this superb post by… well, by me.
Wolff caught some flak over it but the reaction on the left was pretty “meh.” Sort of “she works for Trump so she deserves it.” So now he’s back at it. He was on this YouTube show…must admit I don’t know anything about it and lack the energy sufficient to care to find out… and he brought up the Nikki Haley slander.
Via The Washington Post:
Now the matter has boomeranged back to Wolff, who is showing why, perhaps, we might not want to place too much credence in the entire book. In an interview with theSkimm, Wolff was confronted with the fact that Haley was “distraught” about the whole thing. “Or she seems to me — I would say she seems to have embraced it,” responded Wolff. Asked to explain himself, Wolff continued, “Well, I don’t know. All she does is hammer on this fact. I mean, if I were being accused of something, and I am not accusing her of anything. She hasn’t tried to avoid this, let’s say,” responded Wolff.
I have to give Erik Wemple credit here. I’ve been critical of him at times but this is probably the first time in my life that anyone in the media has come to the defense of a conservative, of any kind, much less a conservative woman. And he does it with a vengeance.
Embraced it? In what reportorial universe is Wolff living? Here’s an idea for Wolff: Go straight to the Politico interview with Haley, and listen to her address this matter. “It is absolutely not true. It is highly offensive and it’s disgusting … It amazes me what people will do and the lies they will say for money and power,” said Haley, who rebutted the specifics of Wolff’s allegations. The “bigger issue,” said Haley, was that “if you speak your mind and you’re strong about it and you say what you believe, there is a small percentage of people that resent that and the way they deal with it is to try to throw arrows — lies or not — to diminish you.” While most men respect women, Haley said, there’s a “small group” who will “resent” women doing a righteous job.
Quite an embrace. If Wolff has genuinely concluded that Haley has really and truly “embraced” this rumor, then we must question other conclusions he has reached.
In the course of a brief video with theSkimm, Wolff piles on the self-owning remarks. Though he knows full well that he engaged in a cutesy multimedia innuendo campaign against Haley on Maher’s show, he somehow washes that moment away. “The book doesn’t accuse her, I didn’t accuse her. So, in effect, some other reporter accused her,” he says. Sure: Maybe that “reporter” was the cheeky fellow who told Maher’s audience, “You’ll know it. Now that I’ve told you, when you hit that paragraph, you’re going to say ‘Bingo.’”
Another approach for Wolff might have been to admit that his comments to Maher were ill-advised. Then again, he told the “Today” show that he’d written “millions” of words without writing a correction. We’re learning why.
“Literally, the book is the book,” he said, again ignoring the CliffsNotes he provided on HBO.
In an earlier, more polite time, this guy would be given a severe ass-whipping, tarred-and-feathered, and ridden from town on a rail. And that would only be possible if someone had tied Mr. Haley up and locked him in a cellar. Now slimeballs like this are celebrities and make millions of dollars. I hope Wemple’s column is not a one-off and actually signals that we are all realizing that this culture that glorifies the destruction of reputations and lives for sh**s and grins is not sustainable.