A Reporter in the Oval Office? What Could Go Wrong?

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Over lunch I read the Michael Wolff piece everyone is talking about, and the basic takeaway is the same as hundreds of other articles about Donald Trump: he’s a moron; he’s only barely functionally literate; he watches a ton of TV; he’s ignorant about almost everything; he never seriously listens to anyone; he has settled opinions on every subject; he’s moody as hell; and he cares about nothing but himself.

The rest is just details, and plenty of them are entertaining. But the most interesting part, I thought, was the editor’s note at the end:

Shortly after Trump’s inauguration, Wolff says, he was able to take up “something like a semi-permanent seat on a couch in the West Wing” — an idea encouraged by the president himself. Because no one was in a position to either officially approve or formally deny such access, Wolff became “more a constant interloper than an invited guest.” There were no ground rules placed on his access, and he was required to make no promises about how he would report on what he witnessed.

This sort of arrangement is fairly common in presidential campaigns. But it’s not common in presidential administrations. Not even slightly. I’m not at all sure it’s ever been done before.

But apparently Trump is such an insane narcissist that he couldn’t see any downside to this. He simply couldn’t conceive that unrestricted access would produce anything other than a glowing tribute to the most sensational first 100 days of any presidency ever. That’s despite the fact that he’s done this many times before and the results have never been favorable except in a “say anything you want as long as you spell my name right” kind of way.

There’s really no mystery about Trump. He’s exactly what he seems to be. The only reason we keep regurgitating stories like this one is because we can’t collectively believe it. No matter how many times we hear it, we just can’t believe that any human being outside a mental institution could be so delusional and oblivious. But Trump is.


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It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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