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Why All The Ruckus?

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Hailey Dewegeli

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In an interview on The View with Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Sunny Hostin, Meghan McCain, and Greta Van Susteren, Mr. Wolff described the ease with which he had sometimes daily access to the West Wing of the White House, and the astonishing results from that experience in documenting the White House Staff’s feelings towards Donald Trump’s Presidency in his book, “Fire and Fury”. Wolff described sitting in the West Wing of the White House for hours, with the purpose of a planned meeting that never matched the original time; so he was invited to extend his visits to await his meeting scheduled for later in the day. This left Wolff with the opportunity to watch and listen to everything around him. And as people got used to his presence, they acknowledged him and would offer casual invitations to “Come on over, let’s have a chat”.

Wolff learned from the impressions given by people he encountered while hanging around the White House that they felt their President was a tense boss. Wolff was a ‘fly on the wall’ and even described the constant fear he had that someone would question his days sitting in the West Wing of the White House. Yet no one did. In The View interview, his impression is that anyone could walk into the White House playing a false persona. Wolff was probed on his credibility in The View interview, testing the truth behind the book. He was confronted by a list of people who denied the quotes he attributed to them. Wolff offered other members of the White House who did not question his truthfulness–a bit of a ‘he-said-she said-they-said’ standoff.

Once the revelations of the book became public, it could no longer be seen as a humorous and embarrassing reality for the White House. Instead, as The View pointed out, it clearly transfers into a national security issue. Wolff explained that the book dealt with the newly formed Trump administration. His main focus was Trump and those who surrounded him. Wolff relayed a story of an off the record dinner with Roger Ailes (now deceased) and Steve Bannon who was serving as White House Chief Strategist. After Ailes’ death, Wolff let Bannon know that the ‘off the record’ status died with Ailes. Bannon then gave his consent and told Wolff he could put their conversation on record. The Trump administration had been plagued with leaks; this anecdote further led people to question Wolff’s integrity as a journalist and the man who was okay with leaking the discussions from a private political dinner as well.

As a Publications student at Xavier, we were given 7 key principles of a moral/ethical code ethical points by which journalists practice their craft. Those are to be responsible, be fair, be honest, be accurate, be independent, minimize harm, and be accountable. When pushed in The View interview, it seemed that Wolff stretched the truth, instantly casting doubt on his moral code as a journalist. The issue, as a Saint for this book, is that Wolff lost the trust of most people because he acted like he was privy to information when he perhaps was not. Mrs. Hach, a theology teacher, tried to read the book and, in her own words, ‘had to put it down.’ She further observed that Wolff insinuated that he was ‘in the room”, yet he was not present in political meetings with Trump. Mrs. Hach had no trust in what Wolff seemed to offer. Who could tell when he stretched the truth about events that occurred or whether his sources may have exaggerated or downplayed a situation? As a journalist for Xavier’s Examiner, I myself have difficulty trusting this author. I understand how easy and tempting it is to trust sources or to exaggerate certain experiences due to a journalist’s personal and passionate bias. This is not what journalists are asked to do. Truth deserves to be heard—not hidden behind a curtain of half-truths or out and out lies. We need to read for truth; we need to be smart enough not to be deceived.

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