Julian Assange
Credit: Newsonline/Flickr

As a writer and editor, I am appalled that WikiLeaks decided to publish Michael Wolff’s new book Fire and Fury. If you want to do the right thing, you’ll go buy it rather than stealing it from the WikiLeaks link. It isn’t a suppressed piece of government information of vital interest to the public. It’s a book that is for sale, and offering it to everyone for free is not Julian Assange’s decision to make. He’s a crook, and he should be prosecuted for doing this.

This is a way for Assange and his patrons to strike back at Wolff and send a message to any publisher who thinks they’ll make a lot of money selling tell-all books from inside TrumpWorld. But it’s also petty and basically pointless. Wolff’s book sales will be robust and adequate even with this sabotage, and now many more people will get a firsthand account of its contents than would have been the case otherwise. On the whole, I think this decision will do Trump more harm than good.

As for the quality of the book, I don’t think John Podhoretz is too far off:

Assessing individual scenes in the book can be difficult and it often comes down to whether or not you agree with Wolff’s judgment. Wolff’s main advantage over every other journalist is that he was there in the West Wing of the White House every day, immersed in the pulse and pace of the place, talking to people in real time before they’d come up with their stories and rationales and excuses to present to the outside world. If a lot of what he writes with authority is still mostly a matter of opinion, it’s still a very informed opinion.

It’s a better read because it doesn’t expend much energy with caveats and conditional statements, but it isn’t more credible for taking that kind of shortcut. In other words, it appears to be a mostly accurate appraisal and retelling of Trump’s first months in office, but one told with shoddy journalistic standards. Historians will find it unreliable, but the rest of us can probably rest easy that he’s captured the essence of what we need to know. You’ll probably want to read it for free, but that doesn’t mean you can’t buy the book, too, just to be a decent person who doesn’t reward WikiLeaks for their criminality.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at ProgressPond.com